Hackensack, NJ- On Friday, April 14, the City of Hackensack was informed that it has been selected to receive an ‘Achievement in Planning’ award from New Jersey Planning Officials and will formally receive the honor on May 3. Every year, New Jersey Planning Officials recognizes projects both large and small, that reflect good sense in planning, dedicated individuals whose planning efforts result in an enhanced quality of life, agencies on every level of government generating model approaches to planning, and organizations and initiatives that promote the ideals of sound planning.
“This award is recognition that the ‘Rehabilitation Plan’ is working,” stated Mayor Mike Melfi. “We are currently at the defining moment of the ‘Plan’, and I am pleased to report that redevelopment is moving forward in Hackensack.”
‘The City of Hackensack Rehabilitation Plan for the Main Street Area’ encompasses 163 acres on 39 city blocks and 389 individual properties. It provides a clear vision to transform the existing downtown area. The goal of the plan is to strengthen and enhance the City’s existing assets while providing opportunities for new mixed-use urban development that will encourage the realization of an authentic downtown environment, which will once again become the cultural and economic heart of Bergen County.
“We have put a lot of time, energy, and focus into creating the ‘Rehabilitation Plan’, and I am sure New Jersey Planning Officials noticed this in our submitted materials,” said City Manager Stephen LoIacono. “It is the attention to detail that communicates the City’s strong commitment to transform the downtown area of Hackensack into a walkable, livable, and sustainable urban environment, guaranteeing that no stone has been left unturned in our plans. This is why the plan will be successful in restoring Hackensack to a ‘City in Motion’.
New Jersey Planning Officials is a non-profit organization that provides educational services, support and information to municipal planning boards, zoning boards of adjustment and elected officials. The organization was formed by, and is still led by, citizen planners and local volunteer residents appointed by governing bodies to serve on planning boards and zoning boards of adjustment. New Jersey Planning Officials is an affiliate of the New Jersey Association of planning and Zoning Administrators.
CONTACT: Ryan Cangialosi (551) 427-1496
by Myles Ma
HACKENSACK – Plans are in place for a 222-unit apartment building to rise on a State Street block currently defined by trash-strewn gravel lots and a vacant Chase Bank.
The City Council on March 19 officially named Meridia Metro Urban Renewal the developer of the apartments.
The apartment will have 86 one-bedroom units and 136 two-bedroom units on five floors over parking. Construction should start in June and finish in January 2015.
The project is expected to cost an estimated $19.2 million.
The Council also adopted a payment in lieu of taxes program that will pay Hackensack $1,200 per apartment, for a total of $266,400 per year. Alternatively, Meridia could pay the city 2 percent of the total cost of the development, depending on which is greater.
The PILOT program will last 30 years. City officials, in a press release, said the earnings from the PILOT would exceed what the $80,000 it collects annually from the site now, and demonstrate its commitment to the project.
The project represents the first tangible sign of progress in the Main Street Rehabilitation Plan, which seeks to overhaul Hackensack’s downtown by encouraging mixed-use development. Adopted in June, the plan calls for an easier building approval process and two-way traffic on Main Street.
by Hannan Adely
(HACKENSACK) - The City Council is taking steps to approve parking and financial agreements to make it easier for a North Jersey developer to build a 222-unit apartment building downtown.
The council introduced ordinances on Tuesday night to designate Meridia Metro Urban Renewal as the redeveloper of a portion of State Street and to allow a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement and parking lease for the project, to be called Meridia State. City officials say the incentives are needed to make it viable and to pave the way for the first development in a part of downtown that the council has marked for rehabilitation.
Meridia, a subsidiary of Capodagli Property Co. of Pequannock, plans to construct a six-story building including a ground-floor garage with 141 spots and five floors of one- and two-bedroom apartments. The project, between Warren and Bergen streets, will cost an estimated $19.2 million.
One ordinance would name Meridia as the redeveloper for 90 days, during which the company and city can negotiate a redevelopment agreement.
The council is also weighing a change to the city’s code to allow the leasing of municipal parking lots and garages, and to approve one such agreement with Meridia. Under the agreement, the developer would lease 120 non-assigned parking spaces in the Atlantic Street Parking Garage for its residents at a cost of $64,800 annually for the first five years, with increases in years to follow.
Another proposed ordinance would offer a 30-year tax abatement on the State Street property.
For the first six years, the developer would pay either $1,200 per unit for a total of $266,400, or 2 percent of the total project cost, whichever is greater.
The payment would increase incrementally over the remaining years of the agreement.
In Years 7 to 11, the developer would pay the greatest among those two options and a third option — 20 percent of the property taxes that otherwise would have to be paid. In subsequent years, the third option would grow to 40 percent, then 60 percent, then 80 percent in the final eight years.
If the City Council approves the tax abatement agreement, as expected, it will go to the state Department of Community Affairs for final authorization.
The city now gets less than $80,000 in taxes for the properties in the State Street redevelopment area, said City Manager Stephen Lo Iacono. All the properties have been bought by Meridia, which is preparing to build soon.
On its application, the developer estimates that construction could start in June if approvals are in place by then, and would run until January 2015.
Meridia would be the first project to break ground since the city adopted its Downtown Rehabilitation Plan in June. The plan eased zoning, parking and other restrictions in a 39-block area known as the Main Street corridor to make it easier for developers to build downtown.
Last month, the council designated part of State Street as an “area in need of redevelopment” to allow a mixed-use project with up to 230 residential units.
Council members said they were willing to offer incentives and to compromise on taxes in a bid to transform the run-down block.
“We want to spark redevelopment,” Mayor Michael Melfi said. “This person is willing to take a chance and develop in this area.”
Councilwoman Karen Sasso said she hoped it would build momentum for all of the city’s Main Street corridor.
“Once this gets built and completed,” she said, “I think more people will come in here over time and look to make an investment in the community.”
Hackensack, NJ- The Hackensack City Council voted unanimously earlier tonight to adopt the Hackensack Parking Study, developed in consultation with Bier Associates to “effectively address and fund the present and future parking needs of downtown redevelopment, residents, shoppers, and business owners.”
“We have no doubt that the path we are taking with the Redevelopment Plan will mean more restaurants, residences and retail opportunities in downtown Hackensack,” stated Mayor Mike Melfi. “By looking ahead we are doing what we can to make sure no one can ever say ‘Hackensack is a great place to live and visit but there is no parking’”
Among other things, the Hackensack Parking Study proposes that the City of Hackensack evaluate implementing new parking technology including the use of electronic meters, pay by cell and credit card enabled parking meters; maximizing the utilization of off-street parking facilities by offering overnight and off peak parking permits to downtown residents and central business district employees; and improving parking management and operations by centralizing all parking management within the Parking Utility.
In offering his own endorsement of the plan City Manager Stephen LoIacono said that “the vision this Council has put forward for the future of Hackensack is about more than bricks and mortar, this plan gives us some of the tools we will need to make sure residents and visitors can actually get to where they want to go.”
Contact: Steve Lenox (973) 715-7330
You can download a copy of the parking study below:
by Hanan Adely
City leaders who have rallied in recent years for downtown rehabilitation are seeing the first fruits of their efforts with plans for a proposed five-story, 222-unit building on State Street.
The apartment building, called Meridia State, would draw people to the downtown, boost local business, and help usher in a wider downtown revival, officials and business leaders said.
“This is a very, very significant move for the city and we think once this project gets under way, it will probably be the catalyst we need,” City Mananger Stephen Lo Iacono said.
Capodagli Property Co. of Pequannock has proposed building the apartments under its Meridia brand, marketed as modern and luxury living at affordable prices. The City Council paved the way for the project last month when it approved a redevelopment plan for a portion of State Street between Warren and Bergen streets to allow mixed-use development with up to 230 residential units.
The council will consider two more ordinances, to be introduced tonight, to designate Meridia Metro as the redeveloper and to approve a payment in lieu of taxes agreement.
The Pompton Plains developer has been in talks with the city about the project for several months and has purchased all the properties in the State Street redevelopment area. All but one of the structures, a drive-through bank branch, has been demolished.
Developer George Capodagli was out of town and unavailable for comment for this story. A project manager did not respond to emails.
The building would feature 86 one-bedroom units and 136 two-bedroom units. The developer could appear before the city Planning Board as early as April, Lo Iacono said.
The developer has Meridia residences in Rahway and Wallington. Another is being built in West New York and one was proposed for Bound Brook.
Meridia’s website and brochure highlights perks such as Wi-Fi, onsite storage, outdoor terraces and gathering lounges on each floor. They’re also marketed as green buildings that are close to public transportation.
Meridia would be the first project since the city adopted its Downtown Rehabilitation Plan in June, which eased zoning, parking and other restrictions in a 39-block area known as the Main Street corridor to make it easier for developers to build downtown.
Company representatives met last week with city officials to resolve early questions in its application. The pre-application meeting is a new tool the city is using to speed up the review process and make it easier and less expensive.
Councilwoman Karen Sasso, a member of the Pre-Application Review Committee, said the Meridia project fit the city’s vision of a modern downtown where people can live, work, shop and find entertainment.
“I think this particular builder — his target audience is young professionals and that certainly will bring some vibrancy to the area,” she added.
That was echoed by Jerome Lombardo, CEO of a commercial real estate firm in the city and chairman of the Upper Main Alliance, a Hackensack business association. He believes the city has appeal as home to the county seat and a large regional hospital; because of public transportation and highway access; and because of the quicker, easier applications process.
He hoped the new residences would invigorate downtown business, drawing more customers and attracting shops and restaurants.
“The business district downtown is glad to see a project of this magnitude,” he said.
Lo Iacono said developers have been calling and meeting to ask about building opportunities in the city’s downtown. He said talks with Capodagli began after a developers’ breakfast in September that showcased the city’s rehabilitation efforts.
More promotion for the city is under way. On Friday, a panel representing the city spoke about the city’s revitalization model at the annual New Jersey Future Redevelopment Forum. The same panel will present at the quarterly meeting of the New Jersey Real Estate Lenders Association on March 21 in Hackensack.
“Once the spade is in the ground on this first project,” Lo Iacono said, “I think there’ll be even more momentum building toward development.”
A panel representing the City of Hackensack presented at New Jersey Future’s Redevelopment forum on March 1. The topic of the presentation was “Creating a New Model for Revitalization in Downtown Hackensack.”
Steve LoIacono, City Manager of Hackensack, Karen Sasso, Councilwoman, Francis Reiner, PP, LLA, DMR Architechts, and Nancy Kist, Decotiis Fitzpatrick and Cole LLP walked the audience through the innovative process that the City of Hackensack has employed to achieve progress in promoting a market-driven revitalization of the downtown area.
You can see a recap of the session below on Main Street Hackensack’s live Twitter feed:
On March 1, a panel representing the City of Hackensack will present the City’s new model for reviatlization at the New Jersey Future Redevelopment Forum. More than 500 attendees are expected at New Jersey Future’s largest event of the year, which will take place in the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown New Brunswick.
Steve LoIacono, City Manager of Hackensack, Karen Sasso, Councilwoman, Francis Reiner, PP, LLA, DMR Architechts, and Nancy Kist, Decotiis Fitzpatrick and Cole LLP will present the session, “Creating a New Model for Revitalization in Downtown Hackensack,” which will focus on proven strategies and mechanisms implemented in Hackensack to promote market-driven revitalization of its downtown, without the use of eminent domain.
The same panel will also present at the quarterly meeting of the New Jersey Real Estate Lenders Association on March 21 in Hackensack, discussing how the City has position itself to promote revitalization and redevelopment opportunities in its downtown.
For more information regarding the New Jersey Future Redevelopment Forum, please click here.
Meridia Metro Hackensack Proposes 222 Residential Units
(Hackensack, NJ) – On Thursday, February 7, the City of Hackensack held a meeting of the Pre-Application Review Committee (PACRC) to discuss Capodagli Property Company’s proposal to undertake a project in the State Street Redevelopment zone. This meeting was the first of the PACRC, conceived by the recently adopted Main Street Rehabilitation Plan to expedite applications and reduce development costs by engaging in a dialogue with a developer in the early phases of a proposed project.
This project, referred to as Meridia Metro Hackensack calls for the construction of 222 residential units and is expected to be formally reviewed and considered by the City’s Planning Board within the next 90 days.
“The need to convene this first meeting of the PACRC is further proof that the recently adopted Main Street Rehabilitation Plan was the missing link to our City’s efforts to rehabilitate our once thriving downtown corridor.” stated Stephen LoIacono, City Manager. “By continuing to have these conversations with potential developers at an earlier stage we will see that applications will be expedited more efficiently and development costs will be reduced, both attractive to those considering new investment in Hackensack.”
City overhauls planning guidelines to attract visitors, growth
By Joshua Burd
More than half of Bergen County’s 70 municipalities have traditional downtowns, but of all of them, only Hackensack’s has no two-way traffic in its main business corridor.
Stephen Lo Iacono, city manager, Hackensack, said zoning changes aim to revive downtown businesses. – AARON HOUSTON
Correcting that is just one part of the vision that business and civic leaders have to reawaken Hackensack’s depressed downtown. Those ideas — such as major zoning changes and relaxed parking rules — are the culmination of years of brainstorming and months overhauling the city’s planning guidelines to make the 160-acre district surrounding Main Street an attractive corridor to residents and visitors.
Earlier this month, the city council approved a redevelopment plan for a site on State Street, clearing the way for a project with up to 230 apartment units. It’s the first significant residential project in the downtown in a long time, said Francis Reiner, the DMR Architects consultant who helped develop the overall rehabilitation plan.
“It really shows the first concrete evidence that the efforts the city has gone through over the past year and a half are coming to fruition,” he said. “You now have a developer who is putting a stake in the ground and is going to build residential projects in the downtown.”
But the Hackensack rehabilitation plan is deeper than wholesale redevelopment, its advocates say. Its origins lie with the small businesses that make up the downtown, and a key goal is to help them revitalize their properties, Reiner said.
To meet their objectives, planners for the Bergen County seat have tried to follow the path of other municipalities that have transformed themselves in recent decades, such as New Brunswick, Jersey City and Morristown.
“It wasn’t all that long ago — 15, 20 years ago — that those downtowns were failing and needed some help, and they implemented many of these types of programs,” said city manager Stephen Lo Iacono. “And they’ve all succeeded in a relatively short period of time.”
One of the key concepts borrowed by Hackensack is the creation of a “pre-application concept review committee,” allowing developers to meet with city professionals earlier in the process, said Nancy A. Kist, a redevelopment attorney who has been advising Hackensack. She said the city wanted to “get past the type of relationship … where developers put a lot of time and money in, and only get a ‘no.’ ”
A similar approach has been fruitful in New Brunswick for at least two decades, said Glenn Patterson, its director of planning, community and economic development. Known there as a technical advisory committee, it allows the Hub City’s experts to work on issues that “don’t get handled real well in front of a board of laymen.”
“To the general guy on the street, it doesn’t sound like that big of a deal,” Patterson said. “But you certainly hear the war stories going on in some other communities, where an application takes three, four, five, six hearings to get through a planning board or zoning board, just because they’re going through every little detail.”
Hackensack has taken other critical steps, starting with the forms used in the application process. It has reduced parking ratios, implemented architectural and neighborhood design standards for development, and is converting one-way streets to two-way streets. In the realm of zoning, the city created a two-tier system that allows owners of all lots to build up to five stories, while owners of larger parcels that meet a square footage threshold can build up to 14 stories. Under another zoning change, an owner can convert any existing first-floor space to a restaurant without adding parking spaces.
The plan is key to helping the district connect to the city’s anchors, like Hackensack University Medical Center, its higher education institutions and government offices. Lo Iacono hopes the Atlantic Street corridor, which includes the hospital, will see new development “as kind of a corollary effect to what’s going to go on at Main Street.”
Mark Sparta, Hackensack UMC’s vice president and senior operations officer, said a revitalized downtown with new residential and retail development can complement its own plans, such as the expansion of its academic offerings and its movement toward secondary medical services, like oncology.
“I think you’re really going to see an opportunity here to maximize the synergies,” Sparta said. “Traditionally hospitals and the communities that they reside in have had symbiotic relationships.”
Reaching the point of being “shovel-ready” in Hackensack has been a lengthy saga for the downtown business community. Around 10 years ago, after the city’s zoning had been outdated for decades, merchants formed the Hackensack Upper Main Alliance and later set out to overhaul the downtown.
City officials with a similar goal joined forces with the group and its consultants about two years ago, culminating in the June 2012 rehabilitation plan that covered 389 properties across 160 acres. Jerry Lombardo, chairman of the Upper Main Alliance, said while the current conditions are not ideal for kicking off Hackensack’s renaissance, stakeholders are eagerly looking to the future.
“Unfortunately, we’re in a very difficult economy right now for development,” Lombardo said. “But I also think now is a great time to set the table … so that as the economy starts to perk up, people are going to look for places to do projects. And we’re going to be ready.”
By Myles Ma
HACKENSACK - The city gave final approval Monday to a plan that would allow high-density residential and commercial development on a State Street block characterized by gravel lots and vacant buildings.
The Council voted unanimously to approve a redevelopment plan for several lots between Warren and Bergen streets.
The plan, introduced in December, designates the lots as “in need of redevelopment” changes zoning laws to encourage mixed-use development allow for up to 230 residential units. Aside from a Chase Bank branch, the block is mostly covered in gravel lots and vacant buildings due for demolition.
“The adoption of this plan tonight brings us one critical step closer to seeing shovels in the ground,” Mayor Mike Melfi said in a release.
The State Street redevelopment plan is part of a larger effort to overhaul downtown Hackensack. Adopted in June, the Main Street Rehabilitation Plan calls for changes that encourages mixed-use development through measures like an easier building approval process and two-way traffic on Main Street.
Developers gave the plan high marks at a presentation in September. At that presentation, officials hinted that a big project announcement was forthcoming, but gave few details.