LITTLE FALLS, NJ - The Township Council has hired a developer for its planned improvements to the Singac section.

At the Dec. 18 meeting, it authorized Mayor James Damiano to contract with Little Falls Redevelopers, LLC an affiliate of JMF Properties, located in Whippany, for renovating the industrial area.

According to Damiano, the area previously met the requirements for redevelopment and rehabilitation designation, according to the Local Redevelopment Housing Law. The council approved the resolution designating a conditional redevelopment agreement.

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"The council is approving the agreement between the township and Little Falls Redevelopers, LLC," said Damiano. "It's conditional because they need to conform with everything we're asking for, but as of yet we haven't decided what we specifically want done." 

He added that the goal was to revitalize the area in Singac with structures that align more closely to the residential neighborhood in its vicinity.

"Current light industrial usage will soon be a thing of the past," he added, noting that some current popular businesses such as 381 Main Bar & Grill, may or may not be affected.

"There's no set plan as of right now," he further added. "However, we are looking forward to the redevelopment in order to make it primarily residential."

Damiano had also emphasized that no eminent domain was on the table for any of the properties, which refers to the power of a state or national government to take private property for public use.

The Little Falls Planning Board originally held a hearing and approved an application for the Singac redevelopment at its meeting on Aug. 2, where board members approved a recommendation identifying a total of 15 properties in the zone, comprised of a mix of industrial, commercial, residential and parking areas.The area covers all block and lots in the zone located between Dewey and South Grey Rock Avenues.

The Township Council then approved a resolution designating the Singac section as "in need of redevelopment and rehabilitation" at its Sept. 25 meeting. 

The Little Falls Planning Board also approved an application for the redevelopment of the township's downtown area, which includes 43 properties, including parking facilities, at its meeting on Nov. 2. Jeffrey Janota, land use planner of the firm H2M, located in Parsippany, who previously presented the redevelopment study for the Singac location, also presented a downtown redevelopment study, referred to as "Town Center" at that meeting. He said the existing properties were being examined for redevelopment. Most of the homes and businesses slated for improvements are situated in the vicinity of where Main and Maple Streets, including Paterson Avenue join.

Damiano had said that the township's overall goal was to revitalize and bring back curb appeal to Little Falls, including refurbishing structures and properties.

With the recent plans for redevelopment by the Township, council members also hope to offset the impact on the property tax base as a result of the acquisition flood prone properties in Singac. In May, an ordinance was passed that would affect approximately 59 properties in the area, which officials said would result in a loss of ratables for Little Falls.

John Veteri, a local attorney representing several property owners in the area, said the redevelopment of the former Singac industrial area is critical to the future of the township.  

"This area is truly a diamond in the rough,"  Veteri said. "The close proximity to the train station and New Yor City buses, the walkability to downtown shops and restaurants and the large sized lots in this area make for one of the best redevelopment opportunities in North Jersey. Mayor Damiano and Council quickly recognized this and showed great leadership in moving forward with plans to redevelop the area for the benefit of the community."   

Veteri added that the selection of JMF Properties, LLC as the conditional redeveloper, was a step in the right direction.  

"JMF has tremendous redevelopment experience and a real talent for breathing new life into former industrial sites and under-performing properties by creating distinctive communities with many architectural and landscape details," Veteri noted.