Of all the roadblocks en route to completing the LumberYard redevelopment project, a vote from its condo association will not be among them.
The leadership group for the most-talked-about building in town voted 51-2 Wednesday to amend its master deed and bylaws, authorizing the Ingerman Group to complete the project.
The vote was a legal necessity, as the scope of the project had been altered from its original design as a luxe commuter village.
In addition to completing the fit-out on unfinished units left when Costanza Builders abandoned the job, Ingerman will erect a five-story, 100-unit apartment building within which the company plans to relocate its corporate headquarters.
Collingswood Mayor James Maley said the vote was a clear message that the people most intimately affected by the project supported the path outlined by borough leadership for its completion.
“We needed a two-thirds vote to approve, so that’s always difficult to do,” Maley said, calling the near-unanimous verdict “pretty overwhelming.
“I think it addresses any concern people beyond the LumberYard have that [residents] don’t like it,” he said.
LumberYard resident Harry Carman was among those voting in the affirmative Wednesday evening. What clinched it for him, Carman said, is that Ingerman has a stake in the project that Costanza didn’t.
“Somebody who’s willing to commit millions of dollars to building their own facility in town is going to be a good neighbor,” he said.
“It makes perfect sense.”
Carman said that although the build-out wasn’t the original intention for the site, he believes the apartment building will pay dividends for Collingswood in the long-term.
“Even though I have reservations about a whole lot of other things he did, you can’t hold the mayor responsible for the downturn of the economy,” Carman said.
Maley said that construction on the back building of the LumberYard will begin by the end of 2012, and that “Ingerman will be in on the site plan probably by November,” with construction of the apartment complex to begin by Spring 2013.
The remaining opposition to the project, a group of petitioners led by Collingswood resident Joseph Dinella, was unreachable for comment Thursday evening.**
The outcome of their protest hinges on a declaratory judgment sought by the borough, which Maley said is due October 2. If the court rules as he expects, it will effectively render their claim moot.
“It speaks to the rest of Collingswood that the people who are living there, the people who are most directly affected, they voted resoundingly in favor of it,” Maley said.
**UPDATE: 9:22 a.m. Fri. 9/22 - Collingswood Patch received the following statement from the Lumberyard petitioners in an e-mail Friday morning:
The Lumberyard Condominium Association, beneficiaries of $25,000,000 in Collingswood taxpayer monies for market-rate housing, have acted to protect their personal financial decisions at the Lumberyard project.
The Petitioners assert that the decision to prioritize private corporations and property owners at select locations over education—the $240,000 plus in forgone school tax revenue this year from the Lumberyard could provide each high school student with the use of an iPad throughout the school year or allow for the introduction of four more Advanced Placement courses - is a
decision that must be made by a majority of the voters and not the direct beneficiaries of any action or just the three Commissioners.
For the complete rundown of Collingswood Patch coverage of the LumberYard redevelopment project, visit our LumberYard news topic page.