City Council unanimously approved a resolution calling for a redevelopment agreement for the former Dan’s Dockside Marina and Restaurant on the 900 block of Palen Avenue that has been abandoned since 2008 at its meeting Thursday night in city hall.
It also approved a bond ordinance allowing the city to borrow $2.6 million to purchase and redevelop the property.
The city set aside $1.2 million for replacement of bulkheads due to current flooding issues, the replacement of two 12,000-gallon tanks and one 8,000-gallon tank, and remediation.
The other $1.4 million is set aside to purchase the property, although the city has expressed no interest in long-term ownership of the property.
The property will be redeveloped by a group led by Thomas and Beverly Gill, who are set to take ownership in August.
The Gills previously owned the property from 1997-2000, and were the only people who have expressed interest in redeveloping the property.
The Gills will be responsible for any costs that exceed $200,000, and will shoulder the burden of three story building that will house a restaurant, common space and residential units.
The life of the bond is seven years, and it must be repaid in full. There are no tax abatements and no Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) associated with the project.
City officials say they have projections on what the value of the property will be once work is complete, but didn’t release those figures because they aren’t definitive.
The city said two separate sets of environmental testing conducted by separate entities concluded it would cost $200,000 to cleanup the area.
No Green Acres funding is currently available and the property doesn’t qualify for any grants related to Superstorm Sandy because it wasn’t operable at the time of the storm.
According to the administration, it began discussions with the Gills concerning this property in 2012, but the couple was unable to gain financing. They were denied by three lenders and the Small Business Administration.
The arrangement is made possible by the New Jersey Redevelopment and Housing Law, which allows a governing body to engage in the redevelopment of a piece of land when it is clear conditions are not likely to be improved solely through the efforts of a private group.
Members of the public and members of council supported the project.
“It’s important to beautify our entry way,” Council President Anthony Wilson said. “This is just one more jewel in our crown. I’m completely behind this project.”
“We were looking at this for eight years before we were able to get someone who’s interested in the project,” Council Vice President Michael Allegretto said. “This is the right thing to do.”
“This project is in the public’s eye more than any other,” Councilman Michael DeVlieger said. “There were plenty of opportunities for other developers to get involved and no one was interested. The Gills are credible. I think this is a worthy investment.”
“I’ve known Tom since we were on the Ecumenical Council together,” Councilman Peter Guinosso said. “This has to happen. We have a foot in the door.”
“I’m thankful that someone who works in the neighborhood has taken an interest in this,” Councilman Antwan McClellan said. “You don’t want to go to an outside developer on this. This is a great thing.”
“You can’t have a top notch town with all these ratables and parts of it look bad,” Councilman Keith Hartzell said. “A lot of times, when you see a town turned around, it’s because the public and private sectors are working together like this. The Gills are phenomenal business people and everything they’ve worked on has been successful.”
“I’ve known Tom close to 50 years and we both remember when this was a thriving area,” Councilman Scott Ping said. “This is something the city needs to see come back to life.”