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Kearny gun range shot down

Renderings courtesy Russo Development Co. An artist’s conception of Schuyler Crossing, from two different perspectives.

Renderings courtesy Russo Development Co.
An artist’s conception of Schuyler Crossing, from two different perspectives.

 

By Ron Leir

Observer Correspondent

KEARNY –

They won’t be singing “Home on the Range” in Kearny after all.

Last week, Jonathan Giordano told The Observer that he and his brother Mark won’t be converting two vacant warehouses they own on Arlington Ave., east of Schuyler Ave., into an indoor gun range, as they’d originally disclosed last summer.

“That plan is going to go away,” said Jon Giordano, a local cabinetmaker.

But as one businessman is retreating from one ambitious project, another is going forward with a scaled-down version of the original at a nearby location with Schuyler Crossing, a proposed residential development.

Giordano said the range won’t be built despite the Kearny Town Council having agreed, in June 2012, to sanction a business development line of credit for up to $250,000 at 4% interest from the Kearny Enterprise Zone Development Corp. to repave much of the Arlington Ave. approach to the project site.

Now, however, it looks like the brothers will have to forgo the loan, he said.

Why?

After Superstorm Sandy hit last October, Mark Giordano, a lawyer and financial consultant, called the folks who’d been lined up as prospective business partners to gauge whether they were still interested in backing the project.

Turns out, Jon Giordano, several weren’t because they were still struggling to recover from property damage caused by the massive storm. “They’d say, ‘Sandy wiped out my summer house and I didn’t have insurance or I’m still waiting to collect my insurance….’ ’’

For a project that, by Giordano’s revised estimate, would’ve required about $3 million to put together, the brothers figured they needed 10 partners. “If two or three bail out, you’re going to be short. You have to have it all or you don’t even start.”

“Another worry you have is what do you do with the guns and bullets if a storm [like Sandy] is coming in,” he added.

So, at the end of the day, Giordano said, “the storm kind of killed it.”

The range had been targeted for use primarily by law enforcement professionals for qualification purposes but also by licensed gun owners from the general public.

Another possibility, Giordano said, would be to develop a simulated shooting training facility where patrons would use a fake gun that shoots laser beams wired to an electrical source. “Not any live fire,” he added. “This would greatly reduce your liability and permits needed.”

Or, perhaps, an outdoor paintball facility could be rigged, Giordano said.

But a more realistic and practical plan, at this point, he said, will likely be renting out the warehouse space as “contractor condominiums,” with small offices in front and dry self-storage space in back for shops dealing in items like video cameras and electronics, electrical and plumbing stock, which can be accessed via loading docks. “It’s a good solution for a small business with inventory,” he said. Giordano is hoping he doesn’t have to raise the building to comply with the new flood control regulations.

At any rate, the gun range is “put on the back burner, at least for now, maybe until the state’s economy straightens out,” Giordano said.

For now, Giordano’s attention is focused on rebuilding his West Hudson Lumber & Millwork business where flooding damaged some of his equipment and slowed the pace of work. Since the storm, he said, “my sales and amount of customers dropped crazily.”

Meanwhile, on another front, Carlstadt developer Ed Russo secured approvals from the Kearny Planning Board on June 12 to scale down his Schuyler Crossing project, at Schuyler and Bergen Aves., from more than 200 apartments, as originally designed, to 138 units.

Plans call for 42 onebedroom apartments and 96 two-bedroom units spread among six buildings, plus a 2,045 square foot clubhouse, that includes an exercise room, for residents. Ample on-site parking will be provided.

The one-bedroom apartments would range from 711 to 899 square feet each while the two-bedroom units would be from 1,134 to 1,243 square feet each. Monthly rentals haven’t yet been announced.

Russo has already built a larger apartment complex in nearby Lyndhurst known as Meadows Crossing.

Mayor Alberto Santos, who sits on the Planning Board, said the layout proposed for Kearny Crossing “is more consistent with the kind of townhouse stock product we have in town, as opposed to the more dense rental buildings like those being built in Harrison. It will be a positive addition to the area.”

Some unfinished business, however, still to be dealt with by the town, Santos said, is Russo’s application for a PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) agreement which the mayor said he planned to review this week with Town Administrator Michael Martello.

“We’ve not done PILOTs before in Kearny, except for senior [citizen] buildings,” Santos said, “so I guess this would be a first for a multi-family residential building. Whether it’s warranted will be based on projections for the cost of the project [with municipal services factored into the equation] and for the rate of return based on rental income.”

Typically, a PILOT is based on a fixed percentage of the project’s gross receipts.

If a PILOT is granted, the developer would pay the town 95% of the annual in lieu of tax fee and the county, the remaining 5%, while the local school system would get nothing.

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