Real Estate

Burgeoning Residential and Commercial Development Means Lower Property Taxes for Somerville Residents – But Not This Year

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The Cobalt Apartments on Veterans Memorial Drive East are expected to be completed by the end of this year. This photo was taken in October, 2015. Credits: Rod Hirsch
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SOMERVILLE, NJ – Tax relief is on the way for borough residents -  but homeowners will have to wait a few more years.

While council members discussed an impending 2016 tax increase at last night’s council meeting, Colin Driver, the borough’s director of Economic Development narrated a PowerPoint presentation highlighting the borough’s ongoing redevelopment.

There are no fewer than 12 residential and commercial developments under construction or in the planning stages that are expected to pump an estimated $67.5 million into the borough’s economy by 2022 through property taxes and disposable income, according to Driver.

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Those are estimates, and Driver concedes it may take another 6-7 years for residents to receive any tax relief as a result of the ongoing and pending construction projects.

Somerville residents have the highest property taxes in Somerset County, with 38 percent of the properties tax-exempt, including Somerset County government facilities, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital-Somerset, and more than one dozen churches.  

Councilman Dennis Sullivan, budget committee chairman, announced at last night’s borough council meeting that taxpayers will have to contribute about $11 million towards the total $18 million 2016 budget, which translates to about $100 for each homeowner. That figure does not include school or county taxes.

Sullivan emphasized that number was “written in Jello,” and might be adjusted downward if further cuts are made to budget requests submitted by department heads. The proposed increase falls within the two percent cap mandated by state law.

The council expects to review the proposed budget at its March 7 meeting and hold a public hearing before a final vote is taken in late March or early April, according to Sullivan.

Soon after Sullivan concluded his remarks, Driver presented a compelling look at the myriad of multi-family and mixed-use projects that have already begun to change the dynamics of the borough.

Last week, NJTRANSIT approved a $10 million sale of 31 acres adjacent to the Raritan Valley Line and the Somerville Train Station, part of the old Somerville Landfill site, which will be developed by Somerset Development of Holmdel.

Adjacent to the train station parking lot, fronting on South Bridge Street, The Exchange at Somerville is planned for the former Richards Fuel site.

Driver also confirmed that Jack Morris of Edgewood Properties will begin construction by the end of the year on the second of two mid-rise buildings on West Main Street that have transformed the downtown shopping and dining district.  JSM Properties has also purchased a former Asian market across the street and has plans to build a four-story building on the site, according to Driver.

Driver also listed Somerville Commons, a four-story mixed use building that will be built at the former Somerville Aluminum building site on East Main Street; the Cobalt Apartments now under construction on Veterans Memorial Drive East and nearby, the proposed Station House Apartments planned by DGM Associates, also on Veterans Memorial Drive East.

Other proposals that have been presented to the borough planning board include a 200-unit apartment complex on the former Litgo property on the east side of town.

Two other five-story residential buildings are planned for Davenport Street; The Davenport, proposed by M&S Investments, will be built on the present site of the Social Security office which will be demolished, according to Driver. Future Associates of Somerset has plans to erect a similar building at 9 Davenport St. above existing retail space.

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