by Hanna Adely
The Record’s former headquarters, a 19.7-acre property on River Street in Hackensack, is being sold to a well-known local developer who said he wants to build a high-end residential and retail community with more than 500 apartments and a hotel.
Fred Daibes, owner and CEO of the Edgewater-based Daibes Enterprises, is buying the property that includes the former Record flagship office at 150 River St., the New Heritage Diner and the New Jersey Naval Museum in a deal announced Monday by North Jersey Media Group, publisher of The Record.
“We have reached an agreement to sell the property to Mr. [Fred] Daibes,” Stephen Borg, president of North Jersey Media Group, said.
Daibes, who said he is partnering with James Demetrakis of Arilex Realty in Edgewater, declined to disclose the sale price or the potential cost of the development, but said the deal was not contingent on city approvals.
“We think it’s a good project and a good area to be developing in,” he said. “We see Hackensack as the next Edgewater.”
Daibes has built many residential and commercial properties across Bergen County, but he made his biggest mark in Edgewater, where he put up luxury high-rise apartment buildings at former industrial sites. He helped transform the waterfront area, making it part of the so-called “Hudson River Gold Coast.”
Demetrakis also is a Bergen County developer and partner with Daibes on the mixed-use Cliffside Park Town Centre project now under construction. He also is an attorney for the developer of a $1 billion downtown project in Fort Lee that will include two 47-story residential towers, which will be the tallest structures in Bergen County.
At the River Street site, Daibes envisions upscale high-rise apartment buildings along the Hackensack River, and midpriced apartments above stores facing the street. He also wants to put a hotel on the property.
Daibes said he intends to keep the Naval Museum, which includes the USS Ling submarine on the river. The diner may be relocated within any new development.
The area is zoned B-3, which allows for a wide range of uses including retail stores, multifamily dwellings, offices, movie theaters, restaurants, and publishing centers, said Al Borelli, the city’s zoning officer.
Daibes said plans were preliminary and that he couldn’t provide a timetable. City Manager Stephen Lo Iacono said Daibes could take advantage of the city’s pre-application process, which it started last year to allow developers to meet with officials to resolve questions and get guidance on their plans before they’re submitted.
Councilman John Labrosse, who will be sworn in as mayor July 1 when a new coalition takes over city government, said he looked forward to hearing details of plans and hoped such development would draw more people into Hackensack.
“I’m very happy there’s a buyer for the site,” he said. “It’s probably our most valuable piece of property and has the most potential for the city.”
Larry Ragonese, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection, said he did not know of any existing environmental problems on the old Record property. It was not listed as having contamination in records kept by the agency’s site remediation program.
“We’ve conducted due diligence with our environmental experts and the DEP, and there are no environmental issues that will prevent redevelopment,” said Jennifer Borg, vice president/general counsel for North Jersey Media Group.
City officials say they have seen strong interest from developers and investors recently, especially since adoption of the new Downtown Rehabilitation Plan a year ago. The River Street property isn’t within the 39-acre area outlined in the plan, but it is just blocks from Main Street and from the Bergen County Courthouse.
Jose Cruz, the senior managing director of HFF, a commercial real estate firm, said the area could benefit from numerous projects – multifamily housing, retail, new medical offices near Hackensack University Medical Center or a hotel.
Hackensack’s demographics and the site’s proximity to New York City make it attractive, he said.
“When you look at that site, it’s very well located, has easy access to the highways, it’s dense,” Cruz said. “You’ve got some great things happening in Hackensack, this would be one more to make things flourish. They’ve got the right developer, now it’s just figuring out the right balance of multiple property types.”
While Daibes has had success in real estate across swaths of Bergen County, he also ran into problems with state and federal regulators.
The DEP fined Daibes $1.9 million in 2011 for completing several projects at Le Jardin, his cliff-side French restaurant in Edgewater, without a permit. He allegedly removed mature trees and shrubs from a coastal bluff and covered an acre of river bottom with fill.
Those issues have been “largely resolved,” Daibes’ spokesman Alan Marcus said Monday.
In January 2012, Mariner’s Bank of Edgewater, which Daibes founded and of which he is majority owner, entered into a wide-ranging order with federal and state regulators that called on the bank to shed bad loans, tighten management oversight, and restrict lending to delinquent borrowers and bank insiders. Daibes, who resigned as chairman of Mariner’s in 2011, said he was not involved in day-to-day operations.
The bank’s CEO said in May that he is hopeful regulators will be satisfied with Mariner’s progress and lift the consent orders after its next examination later this year.
Last month, a Record story raised questions about three unsecured loans the bank gave to powerful county Democrats several years ago.
“We will continue to cover stories that are important to our readers,” Stephen Borg said. “There always has been, continues to be, and always will be a separation between the business side and editorial.”
North Jersey Media Group announced its departure from River Street in 2008 and closed the site three years later. “It was outdated and not conducive to a modern working environment,” Borg said.
by Hannan Adely
HACKENSACK- The start of construction at the Meridia Metro apartment building marks a turning point for the city as it ushers in an ambitious plan to overhaul its downtown, local leaders said at a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday.
The 222-unit building is the first such project in the city since officials adopted the Downtown Rehabilitation Plan a year ago to make it easier for developers to invest in the area. And it is among a trio of such major residential projects, including one freshly announced Thursday evening.
“Today is the first shovel in the ground, the brick-and-mortar proof that, yes, this rehabilitation plan is for real,” said City Manager Stephen Lo Iacono. “Yes, it’s moving forward.”
Meridia Metro Hackensack will feature 86 one-bedroom and 136 two-bedroom apartments on five floors over parking on State Street.
Catering to the “millennial” generation, the building will have modern amenities including a gym, an Xbox gaming center, a rooftop terrace with firepit, and a dog park with grooming station, said developer George Capodagli.
“I’m bringing in the $20-martini people — the rich and famous,” said Capodagli, calling it the generation that loves to spend. He later said monthly rents would range from $1,600 to $2,000.
The project will cost about $30 million, and construction is expected to conclude in January 2015, said Capodagli, owner of Capodagli Property Co. of Pequannock and its subsidiary, Meridia Metro Urban Renewal.
Capodagli said the building was planned to feel like a community: “This millennial group — they want to feel like they belong,” he said.
It’s up to the city to keep them there for the long haul, he said.
“They’ve got to feel safe in your streets, and they’ve got to feel welcome,” he said. “They feel like an outcast and they’re taking the train and going elsewhere.”
In March, the City Council designated part of State Street as an “area in need of redevelopment” and approved financial and parking incentives for the apartment building.
Meridia Metro Urban Renewal was granted a 30-year tax abatement. Annually for the first six years, the developer will 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 will increase incrementally over the remaining years of the agreement.
The city also agreed to lease 120 parking spaces at a nearby municipal parking garage for residents’ use at a cost of $64,800 annually for the first five years, with increases in subsequent years. Shared parking is one of incentives the city included in its Downtown Rehabilitation Plan to lure developers to build in a 39-block area known as the Main Street corridor.
The plan loosens zoning and parking restrictions and establishes an easier building-approval process. It also calls for infrastructure improvements and two-way traffic on Main Street.
The downtown is now home to a diverse but haphazard collection of stores and restaurants in low-rise buildings, with few residences. Many people travel there for work, but depart by evening. City leaders, however, say the downtown is poised to be a destination in Bergen County for people to live, work, shop and dine. They note that it’s home to the county seat, a university and a major medical center, and it has ample highway and bus access.
“Nobody in North Jersey can beat Hackensack’s location,” said Jerome Lombardo, chairman of the Upper Main Alliance business organization.
Meridia isn’t the only notable new housing debuting in Hackensack.
On Friday, officials cut the ribbon on the new Avalon Hackensack at Riverside on Friday, located farther north next to The Shops at Riverside shopping center. The two mid-rise buildings at Avalon include 226 apartments ranging from studios to three-bedroom homes, with amenities including an outdoor pool, grilling and picnic areas, resident lounge and fitness center.
And on Thursday evening 6/6, the Upper Main Alliance held a business expo where board member Eric Anderson announced a new Main Street project. He said his realty company, Alexander Anderson Real Estate Group, had worked with developers and sellers in assembling properties with plans to put up a full-service luxury residential building of more than 250,000 square feet. Anderson said plans would be submitted to the city this summer.
He declined to preliminarily disclose the location, but added “This is going to revolutionize Main Street; it’s a big, big project.”
City officials say the Meridia building will lead the way for more such developers and businesses to set up shop downtown and will draw foot traffic to help existing Main Street businesses.
Developers and investors are already expressing high interest in the area, said Lo Iacono, adding that he gets calls from them nearly every day.
North Jersey investor Billy Procida said Hackensack has a lot of offer, but languished for years as other urban areas such as Jersey City prospered with good planning. Now, he’s ready for Hackensack’s turn.
“We’re all over it and we want to invest in it,” said Procida, president of Englewood-based Procida Funding and Advisers. “I think Hackensack is one of the greatest opportunities” for investing.
City officials and planners have worked on downtown rehabilitation planning for years and are just now seeing it come to fruition.
But four of the five council members are not returning to office, and the incoming council has suggested it’ll replace some City Hall staff and contract professionals.
Still, the elected council members say they’re committed to continuing support for redevelopment downtown.
“We’re glad to see that there is some progress finally being made on the redevelopment of Main Street, and we hope this project is successful,” said Councilman John Labrosse, who is returning to office.
Members of the new council say they’ll ensure the process is open and transparent by making documents available online; analyzing financial impact on city services and appointing a commission to review redevelopment efforts citywide.
“We want to make sure everyone — regardless of whether they own one or two properties and regardless of political affiliation — is treated fairly,” said Councilwoman-elect Kathleen Canestrino.
City leaders say new housing ratables also will help lower the tax burden on other property owners.
by Myles Ma
HACKENSACK- For a long time, talk of revitalizing downtown Hackensack has been conceptual, defined by architectural renderings and studies.
That changed Thursday, as officials made their first physical progress toward making those visions a reality, breaking ground on a $19.2 million, 222-unit residential property on a State Street block that had been left mostly empty in recent years.
“This demonstrates that this whole rehabilitation project is moving,” Stephen Lo Iacono, Hackensack City Manager, said. “It’s the first step. it’s going to be the first of many.”
The Meridia State complex is expected to be complete in about 18 months. At that point, it will include five stories of one and two-bedroom apartments, as well as a ground floor garage with 141 parking spots.
The developer, Meridia Metro Urban Renewal, a subsidiary of Capodagli Property Company, agreed to move forward with the project after the city council adopted a payment in lieu of taxes program for the project.
Under the PILOT agreement, Hackensack will receive $1,200 per unit for a total of about $266,400 a year, or 2 percent of the total cost of the project, depending on which is greater. The city currently collects $80,000 a year in taxes from the site.
Capodagli Property owner George Capodagli said the Meridia building would attract young, eager-to-spend millenials.
“I’m bringing the $20 martini people,” the audacious, bleach-blond developer said in a thick Brooklyn accent. “The rich and the famous.”
But whether they stay depends on how safe and welcome they feel in Hackensack, Capodagli said.
“These kids are coming from dormitories and suburban homes to cities,” he said. “They may act macho and look macho, but guess what? They’re not macho. They’re more mucho than macho. So you’ve got to make them feel safe.”
Lo Iacono said Hackensack already was a safe city.
“Crime really is not a major problem here and we’re going to be doing even better than we’ve been doing as this thing develops,” he said.
City officials hope the Meridia project is only the first step in a larger effort to revive downtown Hackensack. The city has eased building requirements to speed Main Street development.
Capodagli credited city officials for moving the Meridia project so quickly through the approval process.
“These people jumped through every hoop that needed to be jumped through,” he said.
Lo Iacono cited overly strict building regulations, particularly parking requirements, as among the chief reasons for Main Street’s decline. And like many Bergen County downtowns, the rise of big box stores and shopping malls in the 1960s and 70s hurt Hackensack’s Main Street.
But while there have been many plans over the years to rehabilitate downtown Hackensack, business owners and the city government haven’t aligned as they have now, Councilman John Labrosse said.
“It never had the full effort of the city, the businesses and the elected officials,” he said. “Now it’s a joint venture, and that’s what’s made the difference.”
With the Meridia project underway, Lo Iacono said there are four more developments in the pipeline for Main Street. He couldn’t reveal any details, but said they are all mixed-use, with retail or office space on the ground floor and residential units above.
It’s not clear whether Lo Iacono will be able to see those projects through. The last election brought a complete turnover to the city council, aside from LaBrosse, and the newcomers haven’t indicated whether Lo Iacono will stay on.
“I have no idea,” he said. “I wish I knew.”
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.