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Gloucester City Economic Development Corp. Chairman Refutes Rumors and Innuendos

By Bill Cleary

 

CNBNews and several residents submitted prepared written questions recently to Gloucester City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) Chairman David Stallwood. The residents want to remain anonymous. Those questions along with the assembled un-edited written responses from the EDC appear below. 

 

Recently the EDC purchased two commercial properties in the 500 unit block of Monmouth Street using funds from the city’s Urban Development Action Grant (UDAG). The corporation borrowed $400,000. The plan calls for the properties to be renovated and put back on the market for sale or for rent. In his answers below Stallwood emphasized that  the “C” stands for corporation not a committee. Furthermore, he pointed out that the EDC is separate from the local government. 

 

Stallwood referred anyone who wanted background information about the EDC to read the Board’s March 5 press release (click)

 

We want to thank Chairman Stallwood along with board member Bob Booth for their cooperation and candid responses. We wish the board members good luck with their endeavor.


 ~Bill Cleary, Editor/CNBNEWS.NET

 

1. Three of the board members are politicians, how come more business owners are not serving on the EDC?

Only one GCEDC board member, Councilman Daniel Spencer is an elected Gloucester City official. Dan is also chairman of the finance committee and provides invaluable advice and interface as the GCEDC manages Gloucester City’s UEZ program.  Four of the seven board members are also GCBA board members who represent the 70+ business members of the Gloucester City Business Association.  The remaining two board members represent Gloucester City’s citizens (our customers) and the Planning & Zoning Board with whom we have to work closely to rebuild Gloucester City’s commercial and retail base.  Do any of the committee members have a marketing or business degree?

Again, there are no “committee” members. Our corporation board members have business and numerous other helpful degrees. Several board members also have significant marketing management experience. 

 2. Do any of the committee members have a marketing or business degree?

Again, there are no “committee” members.  Our corporation board members have business and numerous other helpful degrees.  Several board members also have significant marketing management experience.

3. What qualifications were necessary to be chosen for this committee?

Again, no one was chosen for this “committee” since it is a not-for-profit corporation. GCEDC board members were selected based on their commitment to revitalize the commercial and retail base of Gloucester City.  Board members are willing to volunteer their time and talents to make things happen in Gloucester City.

4.  Why was a city ordinance necessary to form this committee?

As previously mentioned, the Gloucester City Economic Development Corporation (not committee) was not formed by city ordinance.  The ordinance was required, however, to transfer management of the city’s UEZ program to the GCEDC.  Please see GCEDC March 5, 2013 press release  which describes the relationship between the GCEDC and UEZ.

5. Why was the mayor’s approval necessary to form this committee?

Again the GCEDC is not a “committee” therefore, mayoral approval was not necessary. This GCEDC Board was not picked by mayor and council but each member was run by the mayor for his “buy in” since we wanted to make sure the business community and governing body could work together cohesively to make things happen.

6. Much has changed since the 2007 JGSC Group study was released.  Yet the board is using this six-year old plan as their guide to develop Monmouth Street. Is that the only guide you are using or do you have a more current plan?

The GCBA Board and subsequently the GCEDC board not the “committee” re-validated the conclusions of the JGSC Group report with our own surveys.  We also refer to current research conducted by other EDC’s such as Jersey City, DRPA, New Jersey Future and other appropriate resources on an ongoing basis.

7. The Monmouth Street business district has been revitalized numerous times. None of the previous plans did little if anything to bring in additional foot traffic to the area. What study did you use that stated Monmouth Street would be receptive to new development?

The JGSC study, which was re-validated by GCBA surveys, as well as the recent revitalization experience of other NJ towns such as Hackensack. 

8. What kind of business are you trying to attract to the Monmouth Street Business District?

Neighborhood and destination retail. 

9. Some say the money the committee borrowed from the Urban Action Development Grant (UDAG) belongs to the taxpayers. Do you agree? Disagree?

We agree that UDAG funds are public funds from US tax dollars. We disagree with your inference that Gloucester City’s UDAG fund was generated only from local taxes since UDAG originated as a federal program under President Carter.  Gloucester City participated in this program through the State of NJ.  GCEDC’s actions will provide a twofold benefit to the citizens of Gloucester City by: 1. repaying the UDAG loan with accrued interest so there will be a larger balance to be re-loaned in the future and 2. using the money to revitalize Gloucester City’s commercial and retail base.

10. The amount to buy 526 Monmouth Street (include closing cost)? 

The property at 526 Monmouth Street was purchased by the GCEDC for $75,000.

11. The amount to buy 524 Monmouth Street (include closing cost)?

The property at 524 Monmouth Street was purchased by the GCEDC for $110,000.

12. According to TREND, two commercial properties, out of 15 for sale, have been sold in the last two years. That number doesn’t include the two the EDC recently purchased. The Monmouth Street properties have been on the market for over a year. If a realtor couldn’t sell them what makes the GCEDC think they will be successful?

Realtors in the past have marketed buildings on Monmouth Street in a depressed real estate market.  The GCEDC is rehabbing the buildings we have acquired to make them retail ready and positioning Monmouth Street as an advantageous location for new businesses to move into town and immediately begin operations.  GCEDC Board Members backed up by the GCBA are experienced businessmen/women who are familiar with opening new locations while minimizing overhead and maximizing cash flow.  Several new businesses have already expressed interest in Monmouth Street.

13. The committee is spending money to repair the two Monmouth Street properties. Normally before any property can be sold it has to be brought up to the Housing Code. 

  •  
    1. Were these properties inspected by the city housing office prior to the sale?

No.

 

  •  b. If not, why not?

Companies and individuals always have the ability to purchase properties “As Is” without a Certificate of Occupancy (CO).  The GCEDC as a not-for-profit corporation not a “committee” used this approach since we plan on rehabbing the properties to be retail ready and had our own inspections done.

 

  14.  Is the committee paying real estate taxes to the city for these two properties?

In this case, we wish we were a municipal “committee” not a corporation since we are currently paying real estate taxes as well as water and sewer on the Monmouth Street properties we are rehabbing.

 15.  The Monmouth Street business district is a one-way street. Was marketing done to see what effect a one-way street has on a business district?

Not at this point, however, parking and traffic flow are being looked into. As you know, Monmouth Street is a two way street from Broadway to the railroad tracks and has not been a factor to the prospective businesses we have spoken to thus far.

16. Other than its fund source, what is the difference between the SID and the EDC?

Special Improvement Districts (SID) or Business Improvement Districts (BID) are funded with mandatory tax assessments within an identified zone.  The GEDC is a NJ not-for-profit corporation and must secure its own funding.

17. Are you using advertising and competitive bidding to accomplish your renovation?

Yes.

18. How many of the committee members live in Gloucester City?

Again the GCEDC is not a “committee”, it is a not-for-profit corporation. Five of our board members live in Gloucester City.

19. The GCEDC has taken over the management of the city’s Urban Development Zone (UEZ).  

What are the duties now of the former manager, Howard Clark?

We cannot answer this question since Howard Clark is not associated with the GCEDC.

 

20. Who is paying his salary, the EDC or the state UEZ?

Please see answer above. The GCEDC has no paid staff.   All board members are volunteers.

21. Will the two Monmouth Street properties be sold for a profit? 

The renovated properties will be sold or rented depending on the end user to provide maximum revitalization impact on Monmouth Street.   

a. If so, will the money go back to pay off the UDAG loan or be used to buy more properties?

The loan will be paid in accordance with its terms.  Additional property acquisitions will be evaluated on an ongoing basis.

22. CNBNews repeatedly asked in published articles that appeared on our blog and in the Gloucester City News for answers to some simple questions.  One question, how much was borrowed, was announced at the November council meeting via an ordinance. That question was also asked of committee member Bob Booth who referred us to Chairman Dave Stallwood.  Instead of referring us to the ordinance you allowed us to waste time filing OPRA requests.  How come? 

Communication is like prayer, you can never do too much of it.  You posed numerous questions to the GCEDC during the last week of December.  The resolution you refer to was passed in December not November.  The GCEDC is a new entity that is working hard to get things done with limited funds and volunteer resources.  We agreed to provide a Press Release but unfortunately it did not meet your self-imposed deadline.  Communication is also a two way street with mutual responsibility.  You would have been aware of the resolution and many other aspects of the GCEDC (such as that is not a committee) if you attended or covered council meetings.  

SEE NOT A PEEP WAS HEARD

 

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