Business & Finance

First Look: Union Hotel Plan Includes 'Expanded' Redevelopment Area

This concept plan view of a new Union Hotel looks to the south in front of the hotel.
The Flemington tax map defines the two blocks that are part of the planned phase construction.

FLEMINGTON, NJ – Officials have released details of the proposed redevelopment agreement involving the Union Hotel. Borough Council designated it part of an “an area in need of redevelopment” in 2010.

The draft agreement includes the properties located at 78 Main St., 80 Main St., 82 Main St., 90-100 Main St., 104 Main St., 110 Main St., 7 Spring St., 19 Spring St., 3 Chorister Place and 6 Chorister Place. It also seeks to add additional properties to the project, which include 23 Bloomfield Ave., 21 Bloomfield Ave., 2 Spring St., 8 Spring St. and 12 Spring St.

The draft agreement is between the borough and Flemington Center Urban Renewal, LLC, which is owned solely by John J. “Jack” Cust, Jr., according to the draft. Agreements with two previous redevelopers collapsed after they were unable to finance the project.

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According to the draft, Cust has shown “a high level of commitment and seriousness to pursue implementation” of the proposed development.

The process would require Borough Council to accept Cust’s pre-application concept plan before he can apply to the Planning Board for site plan approval. Council’s review would include plans showing rights-of-way and easements of the expanded redevelopment area; architectural renderings of the proposed development; parking and loading areas; pedestrian and vehicular circulation patterns; landscape, lighting and signage plans; a schedule that shows how the construction would be completed in phases; and a list of any requirements in the redevelopment plan from which Cust might seek a design waiver or relief.  

Cust would be required use exterior building materials, quality of exterior finishes and designs, exterior architectural elements and landscaping features as designated by officials.

To complete the project, the borough may need to sell up to $1 million in bonds, but the agreement states that the bonds will be secured by the project, and that the borough  will not be obligated to use its credit or taxing power to repay the debt.

The responsibility to meet the “affordable” housing obligation that the plan will create in the expanded redevelopment area would be that of Cust, up to the greater of 14 units or 5 percent of the total number of residential units constructed, whichever is greater. But if state rules require additional “affordable” housing, the borough and Cust would “work in good faith to meet such obligations.” The redeveloper would have the right to request modifications to the project which, according to the draft, “shall not be unreasonably denied by the Borough.”

Under the agreement, the redeveloper would be required to attempt to purchase the properties within the expanded development area, although it does not exclude Borough Council from exercising its right of eminent domain to acquire them.

The agreement calls for the project to be built in two phases. The first would be for the properties located on Block 22 of the tax map (see photo) with the properties on Block 24 comprising the second phase.

Block 22 is bounded by Main Street, Chorister Place, Bloomfield Avenue and Spring Street. Block 24 is within Spring Street, Maple Avenue, Bloomfield Avenue and Broad Street.

The project would be exempt from property taxes under a Payment in Lieu of Taxes program. As Mayor Phil Greiner previously stated, the details of that agreement will be negotiated and approved separately from the redeveloper’s agreement.

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