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CNB ARCHIVES 2007: A conversation with Mayor James

CNB ARCHIVES 2007: How does the song go, "They tore down paradise, put up a parking lot"

The following article posted January 31, 2007

By William E. Cleary Sr.

Dooley's Bar Comes Tumbling Down; Cost to the taxpayer $34,400

GLOUCESTER CITY NJ (January 31, 2007)--The empty tavern/restaurant, owned by Gerald F. Dooley Inc., at the corner of Broadway and Cumberland Street , Picture_038City, has been demolished. Hired to do the work was Franchi Demolition & Excavating, Inc. from Camden, the low bidder, at a cost of $34,400. The city purchased the building in October for $425,000. The intricate details of the purchase was never released to the public.
Supposedly it is to be  the future home of Reel Fish Seafood, now located in Bellmawr.

Newly elected Mayor William James was asked today if he knows anything about the transaction? He said as of yet he hasn't looked at the arrangements made by former Mayor Kilcourse. And added there have been so many issues that this (Dooley transaction) wasn't at the top of the list. 


In fairness to Mayor James, Councilmen Brophy and Marchese they have only been in office for a month. I, along with the public, need to give them some time to get familiar with their new job. I expect eventually everything will be released. And I plan to stay on top of the issue until then.

I am not alone in my quest to find out more information. For example Marcia Atkinson posted the following comment this morning on the web site. 

"I would like to know why the city didn't just condemn the property like the Board of Education did to the Highland Park Apartments.Why did
they pay so much for a property that was improperly maintained and
allowed to sit vacant for so long. Something isn't right here," Marcia Atkinson, Gloucester City.

I think we all agree with Marcia; you and I have a right to know how our tax dollars are being spent.

Why we are on the subject of real estate I did some research into how much commercial properties have sold for in Gloucester City in the past two years. *And found the highest paid for a commercial property in our City during that period was $375,000. The property was Billy's Tavern, which included the liquor license.

In talking with a local Realtor he said, "Commercial properties in our city do not warrant spending $425,000 for Dooley's. Nor does it warrant spending $600,000 for Gloucester Plumbing."

I forgot to mention City council voted last Thursday night to proceed with the purchase of Gloucester Plumbing Supply using UEZ funds. The last price I heard was $630,000. The owner of the Plumbing Supply, Joe Kenney,  a member of the UEZ Board plans to construct a new building near the City Water Tower on South Broadway. The intricate details of that arrangement hasn't been released to the public either. At the same meeting the council finalized the arrangement to spend $460,000 on preliminary costs to build a new water plant.

Theresa Graham asked council during the public forum, "why isn't UEZ monies being spent on that project?"

Mayor James said today that he is under the impression that UEZ monies can only being used on projects benefiting the business community. To which I responded, "won't the business community benefit from a new water plant?"

Getting back to what the local real estate agent said.  The fact supports his statement. Here are some of the commercial properties that have sold over the past four years selected from a list of 39 properties. 

531 Monmouth (Camera Shop) sold for $152,500; 241 South Broadway, (Towne House Florist) $63,000; 115 N. Broadway, (Gloucester Deli) $40,000; 309 S. Broadway (Celtic Tavern), $30,000; 208 N. Broadway, (Sporting Good Store) $77,000; 124 S. Broadway, (Thrift Shop)$183,000;  524  Monmouth, (Jewelry store) $90,000.

Also, 527-529 Monmouth St., (the former 5 & 10) $300,000; 700 Monmouth St.,(Train Station) $300,000; 525 Monmouth St., (Drug Store) $132,500; 240  N. Broadway, (Chase Carpet) $145,000; 242 N. Broadway, (Chase Carpet) $150,000.

I like to hear what you think. So please take a moment to comment.

*Note: We asked for listings along Broadway and from each side of the main thruway four blocks back. Commercial properties on King Street or Route 130 were not included. 




No More Secrets Please! said...

The cost of buying this building for the (rumor?) price mentioned of $425,000 and then demolishing it for whatever cost (which would be what???), serves what purpose? Who paid to have this building demolished...the taxpayers, the old owners, the new owners??? Does the city still own this property? If so, will they be charging Reel Fish the amount it cost to buy the building plus the cost of demolition? Or will the city simply sell the lot for $100,000 and lose the hundreds of thousands they put into buying it and then demolishing it? I know this building was bought under our former mayor and council. The decision to tear it down was ok'd by or old officials? Was this the plan all along or did our new officials see a different view for the now lot? This whole thing doesn't make much sense to me and seems a little fishy (no pun intended). Not putting anyone down, judging anyone or anything of the such, just trying to understand the entire situation a little better as it's quite confusing.

Tammy said...

One has to wonder what the city (tax payers) might have saved in demolition costs if this building had been torn down years ago just after if was vacated!

An Observer said...

RUMOR; My barber tells me the 32 year old owner of REEL FISH is also getting a liquor license thrown in to entice him to complete the deal. For the sake of credibility our newly elected officials need to make all documents pertaining to this deal public. ie How was this venture advertised? What pot of money paid for the building? How was demolition advertised? What pot of money paid for the demolition? Are the contract documents available for inspection?

Marcia Atkinson said...

I would like to know why the city didn't just condemn the property like the Board of Education did to the Highland Park Apartments. Why did they pay so much for a property that was improperly maintained and allowed to sit vacant for so long. Something isn't right here.

Nemo said...

If the new officials really wanted to make a statement that they are here to "clean things up" then they would stand up and put a halt on the deal until everything is made public and straightened out! If nothing happens, I am sure we will hear later that the new owner is related to someone in Gloucester or partners with someone in Gloucester...blah, blah, blah!
Same old, Same old!!



A Different View Point said...

The way I understand the UEZ dollars being spent at the plumbing supply is strictly so that the state would not be able to take the money back if and when they decide to do away with UEZ designation in GC. This is what was explained to attending members of the GC Business Association meeting Tuesday, January 23rd. It seems to make sense to hide the money now while they still can in this real estate purchase. However, I hope when the city finds a buyer for the plumbing supply property they get back every dollar they spent. As for the Dooley purchase and demolition, who knows...the thought of anyone spending 459K for an empty lot and then having the expense of building something else!???? Sounds crazy and I doubt will ever happen but will be thrilled if it does!

We need answers! said...

I thought Bill had cut the new officials some slack! 
Someone knows the answers to all the questions surrounding this. If our new Mayor can't answer then who can? Paul Kain our city administrator? Someone has got to fill the tax payers in on why they have spent such an enormous amount of money on this property!!!! Everyday I hear something new. Just yesterday someone who took part in the demolition said Reel Fresh Seafood is no longer interested? True, not true? Again, we NEED answers.

Bill (Wibby) Yeager said...

Hi Billy! It has been a long time since I have been in touch. I have been reading your column in the Gloucester City News. I think you are doing a great job and the people of Gloucester are lucky to have you watching their backs. I will be keeping in touch. 
Bill Yeager, Milford Delaware, former Gloucester City resident

Greatful said...

I agree with Bill (Wibby) Yeager and am extremely greatful for Bill's dedication to this website. I visit quite often and feel that I am "in the know" on what's going on in GC. Bill asks important questions and sheds some light on certain subjects that might otherwise be overlooked. Thanks Bill!

Paula Conroy said...

Bill, I enjoy your column and am now an addict of your website! I am very concerned about your "Jeer" in last week's News about the Kilcourse administration agreeing to build an office building on the "Oh! Hara's" parking lot! First of all, this is a public lot, for all the businesses in the area, and also the residents use it since (1) Oh!Hara's customers park on the streets as well as in the lot, and (2)we (residents of the 100 block of Hudson)have to park there when a storm is threatening, because our street floods over 2 1/2 feet which would ruin our cars! Of course, that's a whole different subject, because a former mayor insisted the storm drains were fixed. Anyway, we need this parking lot! We also lost 3 to 4 parking spots on the Oh! Hara's block due to the ridiculous extended sidewalk installed a few years ago! It serves no purpose whatsoever! I thought there was an ordinance forcing businesses to have a certain number of parking spots for their customers! If they take that lot, where will everyone park, including the Holt Cargo employees? And speaking of Holt, why are we kissing their butt when they broke the initial lease of the Coast Guard base? They do nothing in this town but create an eyesore on our once beautiful waterfront, plus make a lot of noise through the night when residents are sleeping. I would appreciate a comment from our new mayor and council about this proposed project, please.
Thank you!


Response to Mayor James, CUT US SOME SLACK. Bill, no one expects you three new members to explain what went on in the back room of the Democrat Club.
Don't try to put a pretty face on an ugly picture. Notify those council members that voted to approve these two highly questioned purchases that they will be given an opportunity to explain each project and explain the rationale that supports their vote at the next Council Meeting. That way every person in town can see on TV 19 what we all want to know. It also allows us to know who the leaders and who the followers are. Instruct Paul Kain to put it on the agenda so we don't have another mishap like the job announcements fiasco. In case he can't figure it out, it lists under old business.

john krimmel said...

Just what we need another parking lot for Holt to charge there workers $5 a day to park in. its very annoying when the time comes for the no parking on this side law and we have to find a parking spot and mostly all the cars on north king st are workers from Holt who don't want to pay for parking which i dont blame them. 
Theres a parking lot across from Holt that barely gets used and another on the Holt ground that the office workers use and to add to the insult of no parking from 9 till 11 i just happened to be home at these times and there was no street sweeper i understand it was cold out but these signs should be used as a summertime thing when there will be a sweeper that comes around its not right to get a ticket just for the heck of it when there is no reason why you should have to move your vehicle
But then again how else would we be able to buy more parking lots as taxpayers lol



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