Redevelopment plan calls for apartments

8 May 2014 151 views No Comment

Dear Residents:

Please see the May 8, 2014 article in the Suburbanite entitled: “Redevelopment plan calls for apartments: Would transform Lincoln School, firehouse into mixed use complex”

I am delighted that this long awaitied plan has been approved by the City Council as it will increase services for the community as well as enhance revneue.


Mayor Frank Huttle III

Englewood council taps firm to redevelop school, firehouse lots

MAY 8, 2014 LAST UPDATED: THURSDAY, MAY 8, 2014, 12:32 AM
ENGLEWOOD – A 186 unit apartment complex will replace a long-vacant school and a 90-year-old firehouse in order to create a “live and work” community envisioned in the master plan.

Council members approved the Englewood Builders Urban Renewal Company LLC to redevelop Lincoln School and the William Street firehouse during the April 29 council meeting.

The redeveloper will pay the city $7,905,000, contingent on how many units are approved, at the project’s closing time.

The mixed-use redevelopment plan calls for a five-story, 107,401 square-foot complex with one- and two-bedroom apartments and retail on the ground floor.

The redevelopment is within boundaries of the Armory Street Renewal Area. That area, created in 1987, includes West Palisade Avenue, Bennett Road, West Englewood Avenue, William Street, Humphrey Street and North Van Brunt Street.

Heralding the long-awaited development plan, Mayor Frank Huttle III believes it will “create a genesis” for more economic recovery in the downtown district.

“We’re at a crossroads,” said Huttle, about the first large-scale project in the city since 2008. “We have to enhance revenues and we have to increase services. We need to deliver what the community needs are.”

There is a renewed interest by people young and old to live and work in cities “large and small,” according to the city’s 2014 master plan. Creating mixed-use space on the Lincoln School property was suggested in the plan as a way of complementing the Palisade Avenue downtown and adjacent neighborhood.

This is not the first time city officials tried to redevelop the school. In 2011, council members rejected two proposals for redeveloping the Lincoln School property. Huttle said the proposals failed for “being too broad” at the time.

“Real estate was in the midst of the recession, banks were not lending, and real estate values were at the bottom,” said Huttle. “The then-council attempted to sell this property that would have yielded less than 2.5 million, which I strongly opposed.”

City officials purchased Lincoln School and Liberty School, now used by the Recreation Department, for $11.5 million in 2008. Since then, Lincoln School has sat vacant for six years.

Ward 4 Councilman Wayne Hamer, who abstained from the vote, said he supported redeveloping Lincoln School, but had misgivings because the plan did not include affordable housing.

“It’s very important to me that our existing housing stock be upgraded,” said Hamer “This would provide an opportunity and it still can be a way to upgrade our existing housing stock of units within the city.”

Huttle said the Lincoln School redevelopment is part of “a fabric of housing projects” to address all of Englewood’s needs. Affordable housing required by a recent settlement agreement with Route 4 developers ERA South will address Hamer’s concerns, said Huttle.

ERA South developers – S. Hekemian Group and MDK Development LLC – will build 15 affordable housing units in an upcoming 195 unit apartment complex near Route 4. City officials will also re-designate 64 affordable housing units for another 30 years.

Huttle also plans to work with the Housing Authority to construct 160 senior housing units and 12 units for those with special needs in the vicinity of the downtown.

While, city officials OK’d redeveloping the area, Englewood Builders still need to appear before the Planning Board for approval within the next 120 days, according to the agreement.

If the Planning Board approves a site plan with less than 186 units, $42,500 will be subtracted from the $7.9 million purchase price for each apartment that isn’t built. The redeveloper can also terminate the agreement if the approved plan calls for less than 170 units.

Before work commences on the site, however, officials need to complete the new Jack Drakeford Firehouse on South Van Brunt Street. The new fire house will replace the old William Street location, located next to Lincoln School.

Officials will bid the firehouse project in May and hope to complete construction on the new South Van Brunt Street location in September 2015, said City Manager Tim Dacey.

The redeveloper and city administration will also have to remove contaminated soil under the firehouse before the two buildings are knocked down.

City officials will either conduct remediation or reimburse the developer for remediation work on the firehouse, according to the redevelopment agreement. Officials have already approved a $250,000 bond ordinance to pay for remediation work for various contaminated spots around the city.


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