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Commissioners OK Ingerman PILOT Grant, LumberYard Build

As residents air concerns about the build-out for 90 minutes, the mayor defends the project prior to a unanimous vote.

Familiar concerns were echoed among the 60 or so residents who turned out at the Wednesday night special meeting of the Collingswood borough commissioners to discuss the next phase of the LumberYard project.

They wondered aloud whether the project would unsustainably spike parking demands, introduce an undesirable element by inviting more apartment renters to town or create an eyesore that would dominate the downtown skyline.

After all the talk was through, however, the borough leadership approved the pair of ordinances on its docket. One greenlit , and another gave its builders, the , a 25-year PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) deal.

At the outset of the meeting, Mayor James Maley attempted to head off some objections, which he said were “flat-out dead-wrong, false, not true.”

“At least if we’re going to disagree we can disagree over the same facts,” Maley said.

Maley said that although the Ingerman Group is known for its work in low-income housing projects, the LumberYard project “is not a low-income housing project,” and that the borough had been in talks with the builder to locate its offices to Collingswood prior to its involvement with the LumberYard.

Maley also said that constructing the new building does not represent a change of course in the borough philosophy regarding apartments. Rather, he said the project has been intended as a means to increase the Collingswood tax base.

“The only way you get more retail is to have more rooftops that are oriented to that avenue,” he said. “Residential on that downtown is a way to help keep the vibrancy.

“We’ve never had an initiative to discourage apartment buildings; we’ve run out of space to build them,” he said.

Ingerman will pay 80 percent of the taxes owed on the property in the first two years of the PILOT agreement, 85 percent three years in, and an additional 3 percent annually by year 10. At some point, Maley said, those revenues would be shared with the Collingswood school district.

“The reduction in the tax payment is to incentivize a development,” he said. “This is a $15 million investment.”

Maley said that any elementary-school-aged children who moved into the apartment complex would attend , which has typically small classes, and that “the high school has the room” to accommodate any additional children who would attend as a result of renting an apartment in the new building.

“It won’t increase your taxes,” Maley said. “If you have 20 kids who come from there and they’re at all different grade levels, it’s not going to increase your costs.”

“It’s a double-edged sword,” Maley said. “It’s also a reason why you wouldn’t move in there with kids.”

Still, even after 90 minutes of dialogue, some critics of the plan couldn’t be convinced.

Resident Joe DiNella vowed that he would be leading a pair of petitions to repeal both measures on the docket for the Commissioners

“This is sick,” DiNella said. “Density doesn’t solve problems. Twenty-five-year tax abatements don’t solve problems.”

Matt Skoufalos (Editor) July 26, 2012 at 04:03 PM
John, Ingerman is paying 80% of the fully taxable amount for the space for the first three years of the project; a figure of $1400 per unit was quoted.
Concerned Citizen July 26, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Interestingly, there will be at least one additional project built, at the old Russell Cast Stone which will beat the pants off of the Ingerman project. It will be a green development with many units with garages and adequate and convenient surface parking. It is also closer to the PATCO and you have an better developer. Understand that if the PILOT amounts are correct, the town gets the bulk of the money and the county gets some. The schools get nothing without a separate agreement with the town. This extra money is probably necessary to pay for the the bonds/losses that the town incurred from the failed development. I suspect that is why 25 years in necessary. My question is where are the Ingerman employees going to park?
Matt Skoufalos (Editor) July 26, 2012 at 04:35 PM
The plans for the building include canopied parking spaces around the first-level offices, but mostly the development plan is calling for cyclical parking schedules; i.e., thinking that daytime employees and apartment tenants will be gone by the time the dinner crowd rolls in, and so they could occupy the same spaces.
Gary B July 26, 2012 at 04:36 PM
I was told that Ingerman will occupy "95%" of the street level store front as to what has been zoned commercial space. Obviously retail shops and other businesses are not part of Ingerman's plans. I understand they need an office and a demo unit to work out of and promote the project, but again the number of 95% seems to be out of line and does nothing to promote and expand our downtown.
Jasomm July 26, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Last I heard, the plan was for 51 single-bedroom apartments. No mention of what they estimate the rents to be, or why the Boro agreed to ONLY single-bedroom units. Sounds like they are desperate to just put ANYTHING in that lot to say its done. When I looked at the lease-buy options at the Lumberyard Im pretty sure the 2-bedroom "Cherry" Unit was $2000/mo, and no HOA fees. Im hoping the unfinished Phase III section will have similar units for long term renting (not lease-buy) when they complete it. $1800-$2000 is a fair price depending on the sq-ft and finishes. Id be in favor of another floor or two added to the plan if it meant they were building a mixture of floor-plans, a balance range of price points ($1000-$2200 for 1-3 bedrooms), and address the parking concerns.
Jasomm July 26, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Matt: I read that before too, but was confused... Does that mean that the Ingerman and other office/retail employees will have parking spots during the day, and then the apartment tenants AND dining crowd will take the spots after they leave?
Jasomm July 26, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Im guess they mean Haddon AND Powell are the street(S) level frontage... 100' on Haddon, 200' on Powell. the 5% remaining would be one 15' wide store front, which is a typical.... If im interpreting this right.
Matt Skoufalos (Editor) July 26, 2012 at 05:29 PM
The borough did not agree to only one-bedroom units. Maley said last night that the first building will have 10 one-BR apts and 21 two-BR apts; the second building will have 42 one-BR apts, 28 two-BR apts, and three three-bedroom apts.
Jasomm July 26, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Right on! thanks for the clarification... Could you clarify where buildings 1 and 2 will be? Do those correspond to the former lumberyard Phases III and IV? or are they both in the Phase IV (corner of Powell and Haddon) lot?
Matt Skoufalos (Editor) July 26, 2012 at 06:29 PM
I think they are both Phases III and IV, Jason.
Concerned Citizen July 26, 2012 at 06:45 PM
That is done all the time based upon parking demands. I assume that someone did a parking demand study which should have been presented in connection with any development submission. Is there an online presentation anywhere of this new phase?
Matt Skoufalos (Editor) July 26, 2012 at 07:12 PM
@Jason - that's how I interpreted those comments from the Planning Board meeting. @Tom - If you find one, let me know. I think you can request hard copies from Holly Mannel at Borough Hall.
Gary B July 26, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Jasomm, given those measurements you cite, that sounds in par. Through my own fault I've been led to believe that the street level frontage was to be predominantly for retail and other such businesses.
Hugger July 27, 2012 at 12:40 PM
Why is it that so many people jump to conculsions before hearing all the facts. Those of us that live in the Lumberyard love the "way of life". I would much rather live in a vibrant town with parking issues than a bunch of boarded up store fronts. Regarding the section "8" comments. How can you judge a person without meeting them? Wow, I wish I had that qualification in my personal tool kit but I don't. Is the general population of Collingswood so against the economic value the Lumberyard residents bring to the town that they allow themselves to be lead by the blind? To the best of my knowledge we pay our bills and taxes. And I haven't witnessed any prostitution, drug dealing or chop shops located in the Lumberyard. This is a great project with no more growing issues than any other multi-million dollar project. Grow up and give it a break!
Gary B July 27, 2012 at 01:14 PM
My email notification went off for this? Not impressed. Internet ranting: tiresome.
I Love Collingswood July 27, 2012 at 06:37 PM
RE: “We’ve never had an initiative to discourage apartment buildings; we’ve run out of space to build them,” he said. What about all those incentives to decrease the number of multifamily units years back?? And isn't there a moratoriam on new multifamily? Technically they are not "apartment buildings" but still, this comment left me confused.
Shirley July 27, 2012 at 09:37 PM
Maley said that any elementary-school-aged children who moved into the apartment complex would attend Garfield School, which has typically small classes, and that “the high school has the room” to accommodate any additional children who would attend as a result of renting an apartment in the new building. “It won’t increase your taxes,” Maley said. “If you have 20 kids who come from there and they’re at all different grade levels, it’s not going to increase your costs.” “It’s a double-edged sword,” Maley said. “It’s also a reason why you wouldn’t move in there with kids.” Maybe it’s the heat but I don’t understand Maley’s statements. The children of apartment renters in the new building would attend Garfield School which has room to accommodate them. According to Maley, this won’t increase our (Colls residents’) taxes. Maley goes on to say “It’s also a reason why you wouldn’t move in there with kids.” I assume this ‘you’ means the potential renters and why wouldn’t they want to move in to the new building with kids? What am I missing?
Collingswoodnative July 27, 2012 at 11:50 PM
I appreciate that you are living in the Lumberyard. What I see happening is that you bought your unit as a 'luxury condo'. Now the project has hit the skids and the mayor and his two hacks want to finish it out as something close HUD apartments. I would think the owners of the condos would be up in arms about this.
Pat Kelly July 29, 2012 at 12:14 PM
It is very interesting to me how many people post on things that are not factually true. Condo fees are $250/month. That includes trash removal, snow removal, landscaping and care, maintenance of common areas and hallways (including electricity, air conditioning and housekeeping). Very reasonable to me, especially since some people pay upwards of $25/week just to have their lawns maintained.
Pat Kelly July 29, 2012 at 12:18 PM
People use Powell Lane and North Atlantic as a cut-thru. Many times they walk their dogs and allow them to defacate on the sidewalks in front of people's units. Many times they don't even clean up after them. Kids walk down the street and leave soda cans and bottles on people's front steps. I agree 100% with "One road town". The problem is not the Lumberyard.
One road town July 29, 2012 at 12:26 PM
Pat, the $250 fee you cite is a different figure than what Kurt at the Lumber Yard office that is on the premise stated. I got $328 figure directly from him.
Pat Kelly July 29, 2012 at 01:06 PM
I know what I pay for condo fees, regardless of what anyone "quotes".
One road town July 29, 2012 at 01:18 PM
Congratulations...?...
Matt Skoufalos (Editor) July 29, 2012 at 04:44 PM
I'd be excited if we never used the phrase "lib-tard" here again, actually. You can make as many of the points you want condemning your political opponents without being hateful to disabled people. Thanks.
Matt Skoufalos (Editor) July 29, 2012 at 04:48 PM
At the meeting and in his previous comments at the Planning Board meeting earlier this month, Maley explained that the multi-family unit reclamations was meant to cut down on absentee landlords and "reduce the stress" that quads and triplexes were having on other neighborhoods. I believe his position is that Collingswood doesn't hate apartment renters, just that the borough doesn't want multi-family units that are not kept up properly to become the eyesore house on the block.
Matt Skoufalos (Editor) July 29, 2012 at 04:56 PM
That could have been clearer on my part, Shirley. Maley was saying that the apartment complex is really intended as a commuter village, and that people moving in there with kids are not the ideal intended renters despite the belief that they would not put any undue pressure on the school system.
collingswood resident July 29, 2012 at 05:15 PM
One Road Town: There is no On site lumberyard office and no one named Kurt works or lives here. Pat is right. We also live in the lumberyard and our monthly fee is $250 as stated. What I find amusing it that people like to comment and share wrong information but don't attend the meetings. It was shameful that from the whole town of Collingswood only 60 people showed up. Lots of information was provided at that meeting but some didn't share all that they heard and twisted information around and the majority of the down didn't even bother to show up.
One road town July 31, 2012 at 12:57 AM
Collingswood Resident and Pat Kelly: What I find 'amusing' and 'interesting' is that any topic of the Lumber Yard out comes the attitude from internet donkeys like yourself. There seemingly can never be an exchange of simple info anymore. I took the time of finding out if DMJ's claim of "$500" condo fee was true and as it turned 'Curt' stated that they were indeed not that, but the stated fee of $328. Maybe your right that it's a different fee, but your attitude sure is not in par. I was merely following up, which obviously went over the both of your heads. Obviously I need to restate, again: I have no agenda, pro or con toward the Lumber Yard. It's an interesting topic for the ENTIRE townspeople. Why is the concept of social media and local forums so hard for people to grasp?
david g July 31, 2012 at 03:20 AM
The on sitee office has been closed for over two years. The Lumberyard sales are all handled by Mainstreet Realty. Since they are paying the condo fees I would think they would know what they are paying. Social media is a great tool for all the townspeople and buyers when the info posted is accurate. Not used for name calling.
Gary B August 01, 2012 at 04:12 AM
Thanks david g, for your insightful reiteration.

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