~ Dan Spencer, Gloucester City Mayor
William E. Cleary Sr. | CNBNewsnet
GLOUCESTER CITY, NJ (March 6, 2020)--The City of Gloucester City mailed out a notice yesterday, (Thursday) to 172 residents and business owners about plans to spruce up properties along a section of the Broadway corridor. The area under consideration for redevelopment includes North Broadway from Carrs Hardware at Broadway and Paul Street south to Broadway and Market Street, and west to Atlantic Street including, Joy Street, the 600 and 500 blocks of Ridgeway, Cumberland, and Somerset.
A public Planning/Zoning Board meeting to discuss the proposal will be held on Wednesday, March 18, at 7:30 PM at City Hall, 313 Monmouth Street.
When Dan Spencer, Gloucester City Mayor, was asked about a rumor that the properties were going to be claimed under eminent domain to make room for a PATCO train station he said, “That is not correct".
"The idea that this undertaking has anything to do with PATCO is not so", said Spencer. "We don't know if PATCO is ever going to come through Gloucester City, and, if, and when it does, that is years away. For this enterprise, eminent domain will only be used if a property is abandoned, or if the property is in foreclosure and the bank refuses to cooperate with us. I want to emphasize we have no intention of claiming homes/residences that are presently owner-occupied."
Spencer said, "Since I took office last year we, meaning members of the council, the city administrator Jack Lipsett, housing solicitor James Maley, chief housing inspector William Ackley and others in the housing office, and the Planning/Zoning Board have been trying to come up with ways to spruce up our housing and business stock. There are too many empty storefronts and abandoned properties in the area that is under consideration for re-development. This recent action will give us one more tool to improve this area.
The notice states in part;
The designating of an area as a redevelopment area provides the City of Gloucester City with a greater ability to obtain state and federal grants and aid to assist property owners in improving their properties. The redevelopment designation also allows the city to offer new incentives and programs to attract new businesses and to assist existing businesses. A determination of a condemnation area in need of redevelopment constitutes a finding of public purpose and shall authorize the city to exercise the power of eminent domain to acquire property in the study area.
The complete legal notice appears below.
Spencer was asked about the status of other development projects such as Chatham Square, M.E. Costello School, the Compost Plant, Monmouth Street Business District, he said,
"With regard to the compost plant, it has been a long and lethargic process. We are continuing to make progress and anticipate the owner to break ground sometime this year. Part of the problem is with wetland mitigation problems and DEP permitting issues."
"The former Chatham Square continues to move forward under Czyner Properties and will be a premier gated community when it opens. Mr. Czyner informs us he hopes to be opening sometime mid-year."
"As you are aware the city was in negotiations with a prospective developer for the MEC school. At this time that developer has pulled away from that project. As you are also aware, the city does not own the school; the school district does. The School District intends to try and list the property with a commercial real estate marketer to try and sell the property. If they do get a buyer, the city will have the last word on what goes there through our Planning and Zoning process.
"The Freedom Pier is always a priority of ours for development. The city is open to any and all proposals with regard to developing this beautiful visual and valuable piece of riverfront real estate. At the current time, we are in discussions with two prospective developers. However, I do not make any promises with regard to the pier as many Mayors before me have given it their best shot to no avail. As the current Mayor, I will continue to seek out prospective developers for this site."
"The Economic Development Council owns the properties in the business district on Monmouth Street. They have done an admirable job in rehabilitating them, however, they are certain moves that need to be made in order to attract small business into the Monmouth Street and Broadway corridor. Hence, the reason for and the need for the designation of an Area in Need of Redevelopment."
"I as the Mayor and the City Council are all just as frustrated as the citizenry as to how long some of these projects have taken. However, we are beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Just when you think a major development is about to take place, a monkey wrench is thrown in the mix and they walk away. Rest assured, I am meeting with everyone and anyone who wants to move into Gloucester City, and as your Mayor, I am working extremely hard to get our housing stock in shape; which will lead to businesses wanting to move into Gloucester City and for major developers/developments to take place. "
According to Spencer members of the housing office have surveyed properties on the west side of the city looking for blight and abandoned properties. In the near future, the same type of review will be conducted on the east side of the city. Ackley, chief housing official said a copy of the report will be released to the press when it is completed.