Residents can expect construction of to begin in the spring after the Long Branch Council unanimously passed an ordinance bonding $24.9 million to get the project moving, during its meeting on Tuesday night.
Mayor Adam Schneider explained that for the project to be completed in the scope the city desires, the city had to bond for some construction costs. The money will be paid back to the city through a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program after the project is completed in about two years.
"What we would have gotten without this, was not necessarily something we would have wanted," Mayor Schneider said.
A PILOT is money a property owner pays to a municipality instead of real estate taxes on the improvement portion of their property. The amounts due are a municipal lien and are collected in the same way as taxes, and the property owners still pays conventional taxes on the land portion of their property.
Structured annual service charges will cover the debt service of the project and the developer, Fountains Applied LWAG LLC, has agreed to make payments to the city that cover the projected debt service costs and additional revenue if the construction is delayed.
The money the city is bonding will only make up about 20 percent of the total funding for the project, which will also be paid through the developer's equity and a bank loan. The total cost of the project is $195 million.
The funds provided by the city will be used for certain aspects of construction for the two phases of the project including a carousel, retail space, on-site parking and the acquisition and construction of a an off-site parking area on the west side of Ocean Boulevard.
The first phase of the project will include:
• 60 condominium units
• A 59,810-square-foot hotel
• 27,905 square feet of leasable retail space
• An ocean-themed carousel
• Boardwalk improvements and infrastructure, a children's play area and a stage.
The second phase of the project will include:
• 240 condominium units
• 21,360 square feet of leasable retail space
• A 286 space self parking garage with capacity for at least 600 valet/stacker parking spaces
• The acquisition of land to be used for additional public parking
Some residents at Tuesday's meeting spoke out against the project, while others praised it and said it was beneficial to the area.
Resident Diana Multaire questioned Pier Village Phase 3.
"How will it affect the rest of Long Branch," Multaire asked. "The action is all on the oceanfront."
The project is hoped to spur the redevelopment of the Broadway section of Long Branch and the council hopes it will serve as a link to future activity in the area.
Councilman John Pallone said he was "sitting on the fence" about the project because of the cost and other factors but said he believes Pier Village Phase 3 will be an "investment in our city and our future."
"The money will be paid back in full with interest with no burden on the taxpayers," Councilman Pallone said. "The developer has considerable assets and a proven track record."
"Think about what this land looked like 20 years ago and what it looks like now," Councilman Pallone added. "It's an exciting opportunity."
"Any time you make a large investment, it's a risk," Councilwoman Joy Bastelli said. "But, we didn't take this lightly and decisions were not made frivolously."