By Jennifer Vazquez / Reporter
NORTH ARLINGTON (Nov. 15, 2010) — On Friday, Nov. 5, Cherokee Investment Partners, the parent company of the troubled EnCap project, turned over the 41.5-acre Bethlehem Steel property and the 30-acre Bergen County Utilities Authority site to the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission. The transfer of the two North Arlington properties also resulted in Cherokee paying the NJMC $1 million, according to Brian Aberback, spokesperson for the commission.
In the negotiations, Cherokee ended up paying the Borough of North Arlington more than $700,000 in back taxes for the land, which was supposed to become the Arlington Valley housing project. The $700,000 will surely benefit a community that recently saw an 11-percent increase in municipal taxes.
“The $747,000 (received in back taxes) will be of great use to the borough,” said Council President Richard Hughes said during the Wednesday, Nov. 10 borough council meeting.
Mayor Pete Massa shared the same sentiments. “This is a tremendous milestone in our long battle against the EnCap redevelopment and a very positive step for our taxpayers,” Massa stated.
Now that the NJMC has acquired these two plots of land, the commission will auction off the properties after North Arlington formally adopts a redevelopment plan for the Porete Avenue and BCUA sites. Both properties are outside of NJMC jurisdiction.
Therefore, North Arlington will have complete control over the
redevelopment of the properties.
“Once North Arlington adopts its redevelopment plan, the NJMC will begin the process of going out to bid for the sale of the BCUA and Bethlehem Steel properties,” Aberback said.
In May, the borough did introduce a 52-page redevelopment draft plan, which divides the redevelopment area, totaling 120 acres, into three districts: the Porete Avenue area, the Bethlehem Steel site and the BCUA site. The plans call for the the region to be used for wholesale establishments, a computer data center, research laboratories, a self-storage facility, indoor and outdoor commercial recreation and even a film studio.
Councilman Steven Tanelli, who aided the preparation of the preliminary redevelopment plan alongside Hughes, said he agrees with the positive ramifications that this redevelopment can bring to the borough.
“Obviously, it would increase ratables,” Tanelli said in a previous interview. “It would be a consistent form of revenue for the borough. It’s a real plan to revitalize that area. But most importantly, the town is in desperate need of recurring revenue.”
Cherokee was set to remediate landfills and build golf courses in Rutherford and Lyndhurst, in addition to building a controversial housing project in North Arlington.