Developer Shelves MSU Dorm Project on Bloomfield Ave

Development of a housing and retail complex for MSU students on Bloomfield Ave, estimated to cost $100 million, has been abandoned by the developer.
“I had communication from one of the developers, Pinnacle, and they said it’s not moving forward,” Mayor Jerry Fried told Baristanet.
The downtown area, at Bloomfield Ave and Valley Rd, will now be redeveloped by Montclair Township designated as a redevelopment area, which would open possibilities to outside developers, Fried said.
The developer, Capstone Companies, “was bidding on several projects, including one on housing for 2000 students at MSU,” Fried said. “Building that would be significantly cheaper than doing it on a piece of real estate like the DCH site on Bloomfield Ave, and that might have something to do with the change of plan.”
New legislation passed by NJ last summer allows MSU to have dorms built for them, by private firms, on Montclair State land.
The township “and the developer, Capstone Companies, spent a lot of time coming up with a plan (for the MSU dorms) that was workable, that would bring income to the town and pay for itself, but a change in state legislation and other factors” have contributed towards the firm and local developer Pinnacle, which handles luxury condo and urban redevelopment projects, to shelve the project, Montclair Township’s 3rd Ward Councilor Nick Lewis said.
The dorm plan would have provided housing for 800 senior students and some juniors, given a fillip to local retailers and infused a college-town feel to the area.


Alabama-based Capstone’s VP Bruce McKee told NorthJersey.com that the recession, new state laws, challenges in agreement with municipal officials, had stalled the project. He couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Despite the setback on the MSU dorm project, Mayor Fried was optimistic.
“I think all the work that we did to explore that particular deal with those developers and get outside help to develop downtown Montclair, was very useful,” he said. “We had two great consultants and had reports on this specific project, pertaining to transportation, safety, infrastructure and so forth, which was a good process.”
“None of that money will have been wasted; that property will be developed and we have a better handle on how to proceed with developers.”

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28 COMMENTS

  1. “The downtown area, at Bloomfield Ave and Valley Rd, will now be redeveloped by Montclair Township and a new plan will be set forth over the next months, Fried said.”
    Watch your pocket books.
    “None of that money will have been wasted; that property will be developed and we have a better handle on how to proceed with developers.”
    What money Bernadette? How much? A little help here…?

  2. ROC, you beat me to it.
    “The downtown area, at Bloomfield Ave and Valley Rd, will now be redeveloped by Montclair Township and a new plan will be set forth over the next months, Fried said.”
    Does the town own these properties, or are they in private hands?
    I can only hope he was misquoted. This town could not run an ice skating rink and turns over parking to an authority that loses money, yet they are going to redevelop the downtown area?

  3. Cary,
    Since some how in various other threads I just miss you with my question (asked twice with no response), I’ll preemptively throw it out here in the hopes you will post in this municipally related thread.

    ROC SAID:

    Funny thing. Never got an answer to my question other day in the renovating south park street thread.

    So I’ll restate it here. Since you’ve said you thought the Senior Center expenditure was reckless and you’ve also indicated your support in the renovation of south park street. I was wondering if you will now oppose the renovation since we’ve more than depleted the capital expenditures budget?

  4. There is no worry about South Park. With the purchase of the Senior Center there will be no money. For South Park, for re-paving roads, and other uses for capital funds unless we want to spend more than our usual $4MM or so.
    I am quite upset regarding the “facts” in this post and will supply some of my own shortly. This project would have provided over $1MM per year to the town, going to over $2MM after 14 years for a total value exeeded $65MM.
    It is highly unlikely that the town will redevelop this area unless it wants to pay the $12 to $15MM asking price for the land. THEN they have to find a developer who WANTS to develop that property according to a Town plan.
    Again, people are welcome to email me with specific questions, and I’ll try and answer.
    Cary

  5. Thanks for the response Cary. But you know me. I’m a little dense and can’t really ascertain a “yes” or “no” in:
    “There is no worry about South Park. With the purchase of the Senior Center there will be no money. For South Park, for re-paving roads, and other uses for capital funds unless we want to spend more than our usual $4MM or so.”
    I was wondering if you specifically will oppose an expenditure to renovate south street if the senior center is purchased?

  6. One of the corners of the intersection of Bloomfield Avenue and Valley Road might be a good site for a charter school.

  7. Here’s the deal, ROC,
    I just worked for a year on a proposal that would have brought $65MM to Montclair. Plus jobs. Plus a couple of mil in additional spending. Ever year.
    So, now I have to “recover.”
    It’s hard to know what people in Montclair “want.”
    Right now, the Senior Care center is going to happen. The majority of the Council wants it. I don’t. But I don’t know how to stop it.
    Any ideas?
    Thanks,
    Cary
    P.S. Roc, Why don’t you CALL me directly? It would be a lot easier! You can even disguise your voice, or hide behind a screen!

  8. So again I can’t tell your position.
    Here’s what I fear. I fear you’ll be in favor of still spending the money on Park Street because you’ve worked so hard on it. And no matter what the town’s budget or finances are you’ll be infavor. And someone else is, no doubt, working hard on their pet project, and some one else, etc. etc.
    So what we continue to end up with are 12 pet projects (damn the budgetary consequences!) and higher taxes.
    This is NOT physical responsibility.
    I’d rather you be viscously against the senior center so that your pet project might be funded and some else viscously against your pet project so that theirs might be funded. See the difference?
    That’s precisely why 200 words “no’s” and nambdy pambdy calls for a “study” or “consultant” don’t cut it Cary.
    I hope the good taxpayers are paying attention to this little quandary. NOTHING will happen regarding good governance and fiscal responsibility if we rely on this pet project way of doing things.
    This crowd will bleed us dry and run up more debt and we’ll get “mad” and elect the next crowd who’ll have their own “pet projects” and they’ll do the same.

  9. It’s hard to know what people in Montclair “want.”
    Yes. Totally indecipherable. Why just ask anyone in town what they think of their property tax bill and all you’ll get are blank stares….

  10. ROC,
    I understand your point and although I’m tempted to say “my projects are reasonable and well thought out” I won’t say that.
    So, you are right! Perhaps we can’t afford Park Street!
    But …. we just bought a police parking lot for $600,000 ….. and we’re “forgiving” $650,000 in Montclair Parking Authority debt, and ….. and ….
    I need to go rest.
    Be back later!
    Cary Africk

  11. What the world needs now
    is a new Frank Sinatra
    cause the old one just bores me to death
    And what this thread needs now
    is another post from ROC
    cause 7 of 13 just ain’t enough
    It only works if you sing at a certain tempo.

  12. “I’m tempted to say “my projects are reasonable and well thought out” I won’t say that.”
    So how much more tragic then that they’re cut short by hair-brained projects…
    Get in there and fight fight fight…

  13. Good grief. We’d be better off with no mayor and no council. Nothing would get done which would be better than what we have now.

  14. Cary,
    Keep up the fight. It is truly sad to watch this town council spend and spend and spend. You WILL be our next mayor if you want it, which I know you do, for no greater reason than to get a hold on our forever increasing taxes.
    I thought the residence hall in downtown would have been one of the smartest uses for the limited availability of ratable real estate that we have here in Montclair. I graduated from MSC not that long ago and was a Residence Life staff member for 5 and one half years. These are not your typical college students. When tuition doubled in 5 years from $42 per credit to $87, there was very little protest. Most of the kids today are fully funded through their parents. We are the ‘spoiled’ generation. Wouldn’t it have been great to see this same money be spent on Bloomfield Avenue.
    This town council (minus you and RB)are also mostly members of this same spoiled generation. They are good at one thing…spending money. They are twice as bad as Remsen and company, which I really didn’t think was at all possible. With Remsen we were all up in arms about spending $750,000 on wayfinding signs. With Jerry Fraud and crew (that moniker is fair after his despicable behavior during the elect the board referendum issue and afterwards in the Erie Saloon) They are about to spend 5 million dollars on three projects that we need less than the wayfinding signs! Can’t wait for the budget discussions THIS year. But who cares? The capital budget is like a Mastercard. You only have to pay 3% a month of the total amount borrowed, right?
    Keep up the fight and you’ll get your day when the rest of this town council (that just can’t say no) are all run out of town at the next election. It was you who ‘really’ got them all there. Now they are all just too self-absorbed too realize it.
    Corzine just delayed the paying of another 100 million in pension funds. In Montclair, we are overpaying for real estate for a community center lacking parking. It does have a beauty parlor though! We really NEED that!

  15. I live near that area and am very happy it wont be dorms. Don’t want that “douches gone wild” atmosphere all night long.

  16. Montclair’s attitude of “our way or the highway” means developers will choose the highway. If a developer doesn’t have a reasonable chance of a return on their investment, they’re gone (DUK pays a 6% dividend and is a lot less risky than developing in Montclair). Remember that empty department store that sat forever on South Park? The empty dealership will sit longer. For the next many years, there will be no economic upside to development. Anyway, Montclair has plenty of empty store fronts.
    So, Council, spend money on a senior center that raises taxes on seniors and runs us out of town.

  17. The “dorm” project was a fortunate insistence of timing. There is no money available for development. Period.
    However, as Montclair State is a state institution, money became available for this deal to build dormitories.
    People assume, “no worry” someone else will come along and besides, they already pay us over $300K in taxes. Well, the $300K was for a car dealership, not empty buildings. They’ve already applied for a tax reduction. Retroactive. Two years back.
    So, it’s not student residences vs. $300K. It’s student residences vs. very little.
    The DCH property was on the market for, what? 18 months without any takers? Haynes was empty for 14 years.
    Look around folks. See what’s there. DeCozen, empty buildings, weeds growing on a corner lot.

  18. This is not good news. I am sorry to hear that this plan will not move forward because it is the only positive project/idea on the table that could breath some life back into the mummified Montclair Center.

  19. “Look around folks. See what’s there. DeCozen, empty buildings, weeds growing on a corner lot.”
    Well I for one would rather have weeds than the township borrow 30 million and go into the development business.
    Of course I’d rather have a Trader Joes than a weedy exdealership too, but that may not happen.
    A good role of government Cary would be to offer tax incentives to get a business oriented developer involved.

  20. ROC,
    You are absolutely right! And the plans for the student residences/mixed use DCH project used “tax incentives,” including Area in Need of Rehabilitation designation.
    $65MM. That’s what the deal was worth to the town in direct payments.
    And there were plans for developing, independently, stores across the street from the residences. It would have been the start of something BIG.
    Having the Town be a “redeveloper” is, well, CRAZY. A “redeveloper” means you have to have a redevelopment plan, which we don’t have for that area. We could. It would take years. It sets out what the town would like to see in the area.
    The Town cannot buy the land. It would be irresponsible.
    We had a “business oriented developer.”

  21. And it is very irresponsible for the town to keep off the market a less expensive, very manageable commercial building. The senior care building is a high-end office building in a much easier to develop location. It’s right at a train station! They must get out the development business! and let the market take care of itself.
    The DHA developers were doing their due diligence and chose not to go forward. When you let the business people work it out THEY PAY for the research and whatever associated costs to convert to a new use.
    When is the site plan review for the old senior care building coming up? Why does the town want such “high-end” office space for all the new department heads we are growing?
    Now every other town employee is going to demand their own office with a view of the courtyard!

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