WEST ORANGE, NJ – With the old Selecto-Flush building being deemed “an eyesore” and a site that attracts squatters in the Central Avenue Redevelopment Area, the West Orange Township Council passed a resolution on Tuesday authorizing the township to designate the Alpert Group to demolish the building as part of being the interim redeveloper for the area.
In addition, the resolution authorized Mayor Robert Parisi to execute the agreement with the Alpert Group, which has agreed to take down the Selecto-Flush building at 18 Central Ave. for $300,000—including asbestos removal.
In a related matter, the council also authorized Matrix New World to perform a preliminary assessment and site investigation of 18 Central Ave. This agreement is a requirement for the Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Fund grant totaling $77,237.90 from the Department of Environmental Protection and the Economic Development Authority.
During his presentation to the board, Township Attorney Richard Trenk said that the Alpert Group’s oversight of the area’s Harvard Press Redevelopment Project combined with the clearing of the Selecto-Flush building to create something better on the site will create a nicer, safer neighborhood in the valley.
“This is part of the town we are trying to rejuvenate,” said Trenk in explaining why the area would be safer if this building was replaced by a housing development. “Right now it’s blighted and fallow…The 101 district, where this building is located, has more than double the crime reports than the nearby 201 district in the Valley during the past five years.”
Bill Sullivan, an attorney who is shepherding the process for the Alpert Group, said that the Group’s proposed housing project would bring new life to the area.
“It’s most valuable asset is the Highland Avenue Train Station, which is one of the few train stations where redevelopment hasn’t taken place on the Morris-Essex line,” he said.
Joe Alpert said he would like his firm to build 100 housing units on the Selecto-Flush building property. He said that New Jersey Transit would put a Midtown Direct morning and nighttime rush hour trains to Manhattan if these apartments are built.
Alpert added that New Jersey Transit would improve the Highland Avenue Train Station’s lighting and handicap accessibility.
In Alpert’s proposed housing plan, there would be 40 affordable housing units in the new complex. He said the rents for these apartments, which would be considered workforce housing, would be below the market rate. The median income of families who qualify for workforce housing rental rates is $72,000 a year, according to his presentation.
Council President Joe Krakoviak was the only council to vote against the resolution authorizing the Alpert Group to take down the building. He argued for an open bid process.
Trenk argued against a bidding process at this point, stating that the property will be worth more once it’s cleaned up. Once this work is done, Trenk said that the council can decide to either proceed with the Alpert Group or ask for additional bids for the site.
The four other members of the council sided with Trenk and the mayor, who wanted to proceed quickly with the Alpert Group.