Settlement may end delays at ERA South project

20 April 2014 22 views No Comment

Dear Residents:

Please see below the article on April 17, 2014 in the Suburbanite entitled: Settlement may end delays at ERA South project-City will recoup legal fees in deal with development group”

I am pleased that City officials will receive $550,000 to cover legal fees after this settlement as both Bill Bailey and I worked very hard in making this happen.

Regards,

Mayor Frank Huttle III

Settlement may end delays at ERA South project in Englewood

APRIL 17, 2014 LAST UPDATED: THURSDAY, APRIL 17, 2014, 12:31 AM
BY STEPHANIE NODA
STAFF WRITER
NORTHERN VALLEY SUBURBANITE
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City will recoup legal fees in deal with development group

ENGLEWOOD – An apartment complex, office space and new retail space south of Route 4 that was stalled for five years may begin construction after a settlement agreement was reached between city officials and ERA South developers.

The city council approved an amendment to a 2011 settlement agreement during the April 8 meeting relating to a 2009 lawsuit. ERA South developers – S. Hekemian Group and MDK Development LLC – filed the suit against the city over a disagreement with affordable housing.

The Fair Housing Center of New Jersey filed an appeal in the Superior Court of New Jersey against “ERA South, LLC vs. City of Englewood, et al.” in 2012, arguing that the city did not submit an affordable housing plan to the state.

While city officials, ERA South developers, and the Fair Housing Center of New Jersey agreed to the amendment, a judge still needs to approve the deal, said City Attorney Bill Bailey.

Officials will receive $550,000 to cover legal fees after settling the five-year lawsuit with S. Hekemian Group and MDK Development LLC.

ERA South developers plan to construct 195 apartments, 40,000 to 200,000-square-feet of office space, and a small retail area.

Council President Lynne Algrant said the “relief is palpable” that the settlement was coming to a conclusion. She thanked Bailey and Mayor Frank Huttle III for their “tireless work” over the last five year.

“It’s a settlement that we can all agree is advantageous,” said Algrant.

Ward 3 Councilman Eugene Skurnick said he was “extremely pleased” about the settlement and looked forward to the revenue the city will gain as a result of the development in the south of Route 4, which was stalled during the long settlement process.

“We can’t continue as a financially vibrant city where expenses are going up and income is going down,” said Skurnick.

Ward 2 Councilman Michael Cohen said the ERA South development was one of the major projects that will impact the city’s revenue stream in the long term, referencing Liberty School, a building purchased from the Englewood Board of Education that is now used to house city recreation program, and Lincoln School, which officials plan to redevelop.

“It was an exhaustive process that took far longer then it ever should,” said Cohen. “I’m happy it was concluded in a manner with circumstances that are relatively favorable to the city.”

ERA South developers – S. Hekemian Group and MDK Development LLC – filed a lawsuit against the city in 2009 in order to build 1,065 apartments south of Route 4. The suit argued that developers should build housing in south of Route 4 since the city did not send an affordable housing plan with the state. Officials were supposed to submit an affordable housing plan at the end of 2008, said Bailey.

The creation of 1,065 apartments did not include plans for affordable housing. Developers also plan to build 40,000 to 200,000-square-feet of office space as part of the agreement, a hotel, and a small retail space, said Bailey.

City officials and developers of ERA South settled this two-year old lawsuit in 2011, agreeing to 195 apartments.

In 2012, the Fair Housing Center of New Jersey appealed the judge’s approval of the settlement on the basis that Englewood did not have enough affordable housing, said Bailey.

As part of the amendment to the settlement, ERA South developers have agreed to build 15 affordable housing units within the 195 units.

Under guidelines set by the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH), a residence receives an “affordable housing” designation for a 30-year period. Once 30 years has passed, the house is eligible to go back on the market, said Bailey.

In order to meet affordable housing demands as part of the agreement, officials will designate 64 units – most of which are located in the First Ward’s Westmoor Gardens – that are at the end of its 30-year period as affordable housing for another 30 years.

Officials can also make use of 16 affordable housing credits going forward, said Bailey. During a prior round of COAH certification, the city had 16 affordable housing units over the needed amount, said Bailey. Officials are now able to use credits from these units to meet their current COAH requirements.

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– See more at: http://www.northjersey.com/news/settlement-may-end-delays-at-era-south-project-1.998049#sthash.gbYrCalq.d

www.northjersey.com

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