Say No to the Taxpayer subsidy of Essex Green Shopping Center

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Should YOUR property tax DOLLARS subsidize RENOVATIONS and TOWNHOUSES at the Essex Green shopping center and the Executive Drive office building complex?

The West Orange Mayor’s Office is looking to use your tax dollars to subsidize the new owners of the Essex Green Shopping Center and Executive Drive office buildings through bonds and tax abatements by declaring the properties as “Areas In Need of Redevelopment”.

In March 2016, the Essex Green Shopping Center was purchased by Clarion Partners, a $10 BILLION dollar real estate management group for $97 million. It is currently 77% occupied. 

In May 2017, the four office buildings on Executive Drive were purchased for $15 million by PAG Investments.

How does this work? There is a special law in New Jersey called the redevelopment law that was intended to help cities fight urban BLIGHT. If an area is found to be BLIGHTED, a municipality can issue redevelopment area bonds and tax abatements to encourage developers to invest in and develop these blighted areas.

Does Essex Green look BLIGHTED to you?  It may not be that pretty, but it is hardly BLIGHTED. No buildings are falling down, no graffiti, no broken windows, no trash strewn about, no drug dealers hanging out.  None of the conditions that evidence BLIGHT. 

If the Planning Board and Town Council approve the Properties as “An Areas In Need of Redevelopment” then the Township can give these properties a lower rate of taxation than the rest of West Orange residents. We will be subsidizing all the municipal services for these properties, including the education of the school children that will live there. 

Did we say school children?  Yes we did. 

That’s part of the redevelopment plan.  MORE TOWNHOUSES IN WEST ORANGE.     

More demand for services and more children for the schools means higher taxes. The residents of West Orange are already overburdened by property taxes.  If property tax abatements and redevelopment area bonds are issued, current West Orange property owners will subsidize future residents of these development projects in education, sanitation, police and fire protection expenses, while the Township collects fewer taxes.

If you don’t want further tax burdens,  come make public comment at the next two meetings:

Town Council meeting, Tuesday, November. 21, 2017 at 7pm. Please attend. They want to hear from you.

Planning Board meeting, Wednesday, December 6, 2017 at 7:30pm, please attend, they want to hear from you.

 Sincerely, Your neighbors at Our Green West Orange

Photo by TAP

Other good info:

Some of the real estate companies involved: BNE Real Estate including Millennium Homes, Clarion Partners, PAG Investments, Renova Investments.

The language of the law that these properties DO NOT MEET and which the Town Planner is relying on:

Under the regulations of the LRHL at N.J.S.A. 40A:12A-5, a delineated area may be determined to be in need of redevelopment if, after investigation, notice and hearing as provided in Section 6 of P.L.1992, c.79 (N.J.S.A. 40A:12A-6), the governing body of the municipality by resolution concludes that within the delineated area any of the following conditions is found:

“ b. The discontinuance of the use of buildings previously used for commercial, manufacturing, or industrial purposes; the abandonment of such buildings; or the same being allowed to fall into so great a state of disrepair as to be untenantable.

d.    Areas with building or improvements which, by reason of dilapidation, obsolescence, overcrowding, faulty arrangement or design, lack of ventilation, light and sanitary facilities, excessive land coverage, deleterious land use or obsolete layout, or any combination of these or other factors, are detrimental to the safety, health, morals, or welfare of the community. “

 The tax records Real estate records show that Essex Green’s real estate value increased  dramatically over 17 years. from $ 41 million in 1999 to $ 97 million in 2016.

·       Essex Green Shopoing Center sold for :

·       $41.4 million in 1999;

·       for $52.925 million in 2002, up 28% in three years;

·       Sold for $88.225 million in 2006, up 67% in four years;

·       Sold for $97.85 million in 2016, up 11% in a decade and up 136% in 17 years.

"The office complex consists of 31 acres and comprises 10 Rooney Circle and 100-300 Executive Drive. Built between 1971 and 1984, the complex's amenities include a full-service cafeteria, shared conference room and fitness center. The property is 48 percent leased to tenants, including Lincoln Educational, GEICO and a U.S. government agency. Located off Prospect Avenue and Rooney Circle, Executive Hill Office Park is situated at a full interchange of Interstate 280. The Essex Green Shopping Center is also located adjacent to the complex."

Essex Green Tap

Our Town’s must current Annual Debt Statement shows that we carry a debt of:

-       $34,421,781 for local school purposes

-       $72,209,940 for municipal/county obligations

-       $106,631,721 in sum total

Assuming our town has 45,000 residents – this calculates to $2,369 debt per person.

Economic development decisions are made largely behind closed doors by political and corporate powerbrokers. Public officials and developers use their political power and influence on the news media to portray economic development as a complex, secretive process beyond the understanding of the average citizen. Although the purpose of economic development is to improve the quality of life for local residents, residents rarely have much input into what form that improvement takes or how it will be brought about.

When citizens do attempt to participate, they often find that they cannot obtain even the most basic information about the deals being considered. Those seated at the negotiating table claim that the details of subsidy talks must be kept secret until the deal is sealed, or companies will bolt. The result is that a company's announcement to build in an area, accompanied by the government's announcement of a large subsidy package, is often the first official word the public hears about a development project.