William E. Cleary Sr. | CNBNewsnet
GLOUCESTER CITY, N.J. (October 29, 2018)(CNBNewsnet)— Work on the former Chatham Square Apartments, also known as Meadowbrook Mews, Route 130 and Klemm Avenue, is progressing. The Gloucester City owned apartments were sold to Cyzner Properties Inc., Green Brook, N.J. in August 2017 for $1.5 million.
A spokesman for Cyzner Properties said the new plans for the complex call for the construction of 141 apartments, 100 of those units will contain two bedrooms and 41 of the units will be one bedroom apartments suited for young professional adults and millennials. The complex will also have a dog park, a clubhouse with a gym, a hospitality room and a community kitchen for events. The total costs for rebuilding the apartments is $17 million. The project is expected to take two years to complete starting from September 2017.
Representatives from Cyzner Properties along with the mayor, council members and city officials held a brief ground breaking ceremony last week at the site, according to a city spokesperson.
The financial arrangement calls for Cyzner Properties to provide $1.5 million downpayment and $155,000 annually to the city in lieu of taxes in an accordance with the Long Term Tax Exemption Law NJSA 40A:20-1 et.seq. The 30-year-contract contains no cost of a living clause as such the payments, labeled in the contract as an Annual Service Charge will remain at that figure. "Likewise, the Annual Service Charge shall not be affected by any revaluation or reassessment during the term of the agreement," as per the contract. Cyzner will pay taxes on the land which will be assessed later.
In 2007-08 Gloucester City purchased Chatham Square, a 100-unit apartment complex for $4.25 million. At the time Mayor William James said the reason for the purchase was because some of the residents living in the complex were criminals who were selling illegal drugs. James said the criminals and drug dealers were “a strain on the local police department.” He said too that some residents with children were putting “a strain on the school system.”
After the purchase former Democrat Councilman Nick Marchese said the city was going to demolish the apartments to be replaced by a 55-and-older development. Shortly thereafter that idea was scrapped without explanation.
June 1, 2010, Gloucester City announces it has hired Orens Brothers to convert the 100 apartments into 50 Townhouses. Prices for the townhouses range from $167,000 to $195,000. The arrangement with Orens, who borrows $1.1 million from the city’s UDAG program to help pay for the work, calls for the town homes to be built as they are sold. CNBNEWS Photo: City council along with officers from Orens Brothers attend ceremonial groundbreaking at Chatham Square.
Two years later the city hired Oren Brothers of Philadelphia to develop the units into townhouses. Oren borrowed $1.1 million from the City’s UDAG program to fund the development of those properties into townhouses. The new development was to be called Meadowbrook Mews. None of the renovated apartments were ever sold. Oren Brothers did pay back the loan. The new homes were priced between $175,000 and $180,000. Not one of the sample properties were sold even though the city lowered their asking price several times.
Below is a video advertisement for the Meadowbrook Mews townhomes.
During the 10 year period the apartments sat empty, the city became a landlord to help with expenses and rented some of the apartments after repairing them. Presently there are 11 units being rented.
In December 2015 CNBNews wanted to know how much the city had spent on the property since purchasing it in 2008. According to Frank Robertson, the city's chief financial officer up until 2015 it had expended $7,184,450.
Robertson provided an itemized list ( below) of the Chatham Square expenses as of December 8, 2015.
Some of the numbers that jump out from that list are:
- $2,043,631 rehabilitation expenses
- 568,653 paid in interest on the $4,350,000 bond
- 61,214 legal fees
- 92,253 employee salaries
- 351,196 for operating expenses
- 17,470 bond council service-financing
- 28,631 engineering/legal-survey/subdivision
- 25,000 to Daniel Aaron private contractor
The City floated a $4,350,000 bond in February 2008 to purchase the property and to pay for closing costs. The note was for 40 years with a maximum rate of interest of 8 percent.
In 2008, the taxes on the property were $75,939. Assuming the tax rate stayed the same for the past seven years the amount that would have been paid to the city by a private owner would have totaled $531,923.
By submitting an OPRA, CNBNews learned that The NHP Foundation submitted a proposal in 2013 to purchase the city property for $6 million but that deal fell through.
The construction/renovation cost estimate for the 134 apartments is $17.4 million or $130,119 per unit. (copy below)
RELATED: Details of Gloucester City's Sale of Chatham Square; Includes Interview with City Solicitor
(CNBNewsnet photo) Renovations to the front of the apartments facing north. The photo was taken last week.
Below: The new owner of Chatham Square was able to obtain the 34 Gloucester Terrace Apartments for $2 million plus. Those buildings will be included in the renovation and rebuilding of the Chatham Square complex a.k.a Meadowbrook Mews (CNBNews photo)
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