RED BANK, NJ – The Red Bank Redevelopment Agency (RBRA) held their monthly meeting yesterday afternoon in borough hall and voted one a number of resolutions. 

The Opportunity Zone Challenge Grant was the first topic, which, according to the NJ Economic Development Authority website is, “Designed to focus capital flows and economic investment into communities that have historically faced economic challenges, long-term investment scarcity and strained local governments have made it difficult for many of the communities most in need to develop and capitalize critical projects…, by encouraging communities to develop specific plans to guide their pursuit of Opportunity Zone-based investments,”

Ziad Shehady, Business Administrator said that the Red Bank Redevelopment Agency is, “Looking to put together a proposal not to actually implement, but develop a strategic plan.  The plans they are looking for a financial or marketing plan, a real estate development plan, getting a better understanding of the potential of commercial/mixed/use projects, looking at the feasibility of multi-family, retail, office, hospitality within that opportunity zone.”

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There are 75 opportunity zones in New Jersey, with a maximum award of $100k per applicant. 

Shehady continued, saying, “The money is really envisioned to go to a number of strategic partners and professional firms, whether it’s engineering, planners, financial analysts it’s to develop a proposal that says this how we want to actually go ahead with our strategic plan, adding that, “There’s probably a 1 in 15 chance of actually winning one of these grants.”  

Ken DeRoberts, CEO of Government Strategy Group (GSG), replied, “We’re going to put together a helluva grant application to cut those odds.”

GSG is the consulting group hired by the borough to manage the redevelopment process and issued a scathing Management Enhancement Report, back in May of 2018.

DeRoberts discussed an RFQ for a Financial Advisor.  Two New Jersey firms replied with proposals.  He recommended that both be hired with NW Financial being the primary firm as they have done previous work for the borough.

The agency passed a resolution awarding a contract to ARH Associates for a “Borough-wide Threshold Conformance Analysis Study.  DeRoberts explained that, “This study will do an entire evaluation of the borough in identifying areas that could qualify for an area of need of redevelopment or rehabilitation.” 

Maser Consulting, P.A. was awarded by resolution a $39,300 contract to provide “Conceptional Engineering Site Review,” which will perform site, structural reviews to identify opportunities for potential locations for (borough) facilities. 

The last resolution was the awarding of a contract to DMR Architects for $41k for a “Conceptional Architectural Planning Review for Municipal Operations.”  DeRoberts explained that this was to, “Guide us in a needs assessment, for office space, facilities, etc,”  saying that Maser and DMR will be working together.  

Mayor Pat Menna added that, “These contracts are on a “as needed basis” (the borough), will only be billed for work done.””

What’s the timeline?

Committee member Wilson Beebe asked for clarification on the timeline on when the agency would see a plan, which DeRoberts replied, “Six to twelve months minimum to get to a point where we’ve got a firm grasp on what the potential opportunity is.”

Where’s the money coming from to pay for all of this? 

Steve Hecht stood for the public comment portion and asked about the $300k bond, “My question is, how does the agency fund its operation?”  Borough Business Administrator Shehady replied that, “The $300k is not to fund the agency’s operations, it is strictly for the purposes of projects related to the municipal operations project.  The operations of this agency are funded in (a number of ways); through allocations by the mayor and council, or with future projects that come up with developers.  They could put up escrow fees to fund the professional that we hire to vet their work.” 

What’s upcoming? 

“At the September meeting we’ll go through the (Opportunity Zone) grant application which will be very enlightening for all of us.  For the October meeting, we’ll invite all the advisory board members and our professionals to have an interactive discussion on where we’re at with these projects,” said GSG CEO Ken DeRoberts.

The committee members are: councilwoman Kate Triggiano, councilman Hazim Yassin, Wilson Beebe, Alpha Reynolds-Lewis, Megan Massey, Jan Wouters, Esq., and David R. Huber.

To read a TAPinto Red Bank article on the Agency’s July 26th meeting, click HERE.

The next Redevelopment meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Septemebr 24th, 4:30pm at borough hall.

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