Monday, September 14, 2009

Monarch Issues Continue

Banners and signs at 400 East Front Street indicate the sales model for 63 condos is now open there. The condo complex, which has a senior center and veterans' center on the ground floor, is likely to be up for discussion tonight as City Council members are being asked to vote on a tax abatement allowing condo purchasers to pay only 40 percent of city taxes.

In May 2008, Dornoch Plainfield LLC received City Council permission to place a sales office on a city-owned lot across the street from the project. The agreement was for seven months at $500 per month. However, the trailer office was only dismantled last week, according to blogger Dan Damon.

On Sunday, potential buyers were directed to an office in the future Veterans Center.
A review of documents signed Jan. 4, 2007 reveals that the city sold the land to the Union County Improvement Authority for $1 in order for the authority to develop it. In turn, the UCIA sold it to Dornoch Plainfield LLC. Among terms of the agreement, the senior center was to be completed by two years from the issuance of a building permit. As verified by Construction Official Joseph Minarovich, that would be October 2009.
No closings on residential units were to take place until the senior center was complete, as indicated by a temporary or or permanent certificate of occupancy for the center. At that time, Dornoch was to sell the center to the city for $1.
The Veterans Center was to be sold for $1 to the city "upon the sale of all 63 residential condominium units."
According to City Administrator Marc Dashield, 13 to 15 units are currently under contract for sale.
Dornoch Plainfield LLC was not referred to in a proposed agreement for the city to permit negotiations on a tax abatement. Instead, the agreement was with P&F Management. It passed on first reading July 20, but was not brought back in August for second reading. The ordinance was discussed in executive sessions before and after the Sept. 8 meeting, but not in the public portion. It is expected to come up tonight. The meeting is 8 p.m. in Municipal Court, 325 Watchung Ave.
In the January 2007 documents, the two-bedroom residential units are described as ranging from 1,170 square feet to 1,390 square feet. However, in real estate articles on the project, they are described as ranging from 1,120 to 1,289 square feet, a reduction of from 4 to 7 percent. The sales price has varied from about $300,000 initially to $199,000 in a May 2009 ad. It is now being described as being in the mid-$200,000s.
Councilman Adrian Mapp, who said he voted "yes" reluctantly when the ordinance passed on first reading, has come out vehemently against the tax abatement. Mapp published his questions and Dashield's answers on his blog Saturday along with his commentary. Click here to read it.
Officials were supposed to be reviewing the January 2007 documents last week. Considering that the UCIA is headed by Union County Democratic Party Chairman Charlotte DeFilippo and that the UCIA office building at Park-Madison has yet to comply with all the Planning Board conditions in order to receive a permanent certificate of occupancy, any behind-the-scenes discussions may not exactly be collegial. The Park-Madison building received a temporary certificate of occupancy in 2005 and has been in use ever since, despite the unfulfilled Planning Board conditions raised in 2006.
--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

How is it that there has not been a full certificate of occupancy at Park-Madison yet? It's been FOUR years since it opened. I understand a temporary C of O at the beginning, as final touches are being made, but FOUR YEARS? Do you know what the reason is for it not being granted a full C of O? What conditions still need to be met? What has the building inspector done? Shouldn't he be entitled to close the building? And what of DeFillippo, who has been under state investigation for possible illegal REAL ESTATE TRANSACTIONS? Don't the mayor and Jerry Green see something wrong with the county chair being involved with these two projects? Will they ask her to step down from her position while she is under state investigation? They should.

12:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just read Dashield's answers to the questions posed by those in attendance at the August town meeting. His answers are evasive. Mainly, I am angry that he is saying that the supposedly free senior center now is the reason for needing the tax abatement. The lot was sold for $1. We know that it was originally many parcels of land. Let's suppose their had been no senior center and the developer had had to purchase that large tract of land at market rate back in 2006. He would have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for it. "Promises made, promises broken" is more like it. And if the city is now part "condo owner" because of the senior center, are we also now liable for paying for all the legal help Dashield seems to need in order to explain this to us? If the developer goes bankrupt on this project, aren't we liable for our share? The developer's "shell" corporation is an LLC, the city of Plainfield is NOT.

12:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where is the council on this? They are the governing body now. The administration has proven ineptness, the council needs to act!

12:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A lot of times builders hope the Temporary C of O, becomes permanent when everyone moves on to the next project and kind of forgets about the 'little' things. Fixing those things cuts into their profit, so there is no push on their part.

1:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A lot of us have been asking the same question --how can the UCIA owned & built County ofice building and parking deck still be operating on a TCO? Any other developer would be in deep trouble on this issue already after 4 years. I imagine the reason for not gaining the CO is the UCIA didn't like some of the requirements set by the Planning Board and the original developer's agreement. These included - relocating the historic Park Jewelers clock to their plaza, making the parking garage available for residents, shoppers etc. to park off hours, nights, weekends..., completing the reconstruction of Park Ave (Front to Second) as it only has a temporary fix, pay the Special Improvement District self-tax which supports their commercial district betterment program, etc. I have heard rumors that the UCIA has not paid their $250,000+ annual PILOT payment to the city because they don't have their full CO;(not sure if that is accurate). No one in the current administration is going to make them do this stuff either!

1:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To pick up on the previous comment:

Because there has been no permanent CofO, the property has never hit the tax rolls, so Plainfield is being bullied out of 100s of thousands of tax dollars by the UCIA.

Thanks, Charlotte. Thanks, Jerry.

1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Council members Mapp and McWilliams just came on the city council in January 2009, so where have the other council people been in terms of checking on this C of O over the past 4 years, especially Burney, Carter, Storch and Simmons? Who is supposed to be asking the administration the questions about this C of O? Have we really NOT received ANY tax/PILOT money because of the temp. C of O? Really?

What has been Council president Burney's response to the lack of permanent C of O? He has been on the council continuously for the entire time of this administration, also for the last year of the previous.

What has been Councilwoman Carter's response to the lack of permanent C of O? She has been on the council continuously for the entire time of this administration, also for the last two years of the previous.

What has been Councilman Storch's response to the lack of permanent C of O? He has been on the council continuously for the entire time of this administration, also for the last two years of the previous.

What has been Councilman Simmons' response to the lack of permanent C of O?

What has been Councilwoman Carter's response to residential tax abatement proposal? She has not uttered a word publicly.

What has been Councilman Simmons' response to residential tax abatement proposal? He has not uttered a word.

What are we supposed to do?

5:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Here is a link to an article from a few days ago about Dornoch's Rahway project referred to by another commenter. Below is the part I am afraid of--"providing Dornoch some CASH FLOW"--Dornoch is Fishman, right? You can cut and paste the entire link at the bottom to see the story at Rahway Rising blog. The mayor, Dashield and Fishman are not being honest about what's going on here:

"Leasing the temporary surface parking would provide Dornoch some cash flow as it builds The Savoy across the street (where there has been virtually no activity in a year) and pays some $30,000 in property taxes on The Westbury site alone.

The resolution and memo of understanding is meant to convince Dornoch's investors, a hedge fund based in Holland, that The Westbury is a reality and provide them with a level of comfort to secure additional investments and financing for The Savoy. Should investors not be comfortable with prospects for The Westbury, they don't believe they would get enough return on The Savoy alone, Pelissier said. "They've invested a lot," he added and would be more comfortable knowing the Redevelopment Agency won't back out of The Westbury project.

Also referred to as Dornoch II, The Westbury originally was envisioned as a 140-unit development along Main Street behind the East Cherry Street storefronts."

5:44 PM  
Blogger MichaelT said...

It is up to the City's tax assessor to determine when to put a taxable value on a property. This can be done with or without a Certificate of Occupancy. The purpose of the local tax is to pay for governmental services enjoyed by the owners/tenants of property. With or without a C of O, the property is receiving services and can and should be assessed for tax purposes.

12:06 PM  

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