More apartments eyed for Bergen Ave.

By Ron Leir 

Observer Correspondent 


Carlstadt builder Ed Russo is looking to expand a residential development project already in progress in a Kearny redevelopment area at Bergen and Schuyler Aves.

Russo told The Observer last month he has a contract to purchase an additional 2.25 acres of property on the northeast side of Bergen Ave. – opposite where his current project Vermella Crossing (formerly known as Schuyler Crossing) is rapidly rising.

He’s looking to acquire – and take down – commercial warehousing at 307-337 Bergen Ave. – 175 feet from the Schuyler intersection – currently owned by Wal-Park Associates of Verona and put up two new multi-family residential structures with a total of 70 apartments.

Each three-story building would contain 35 apartments, with 18 one-bedroom apartments and 17 two-bedroom units.

Russo said that the design of those buildings would mirror the frame and masonry look of Vermella Crossing: six three-story buildings that will contain a total of 150 apartments, consisting of one- and two-bedroom units, plus a clubhouse/fitness center.

Although Russo included retail tenants — a CVS pharmacy and Investors Bank – as part of his Vermella Crossing mixed-use development site, he said that – at this point – he is not planning any retail space for the proposed expansion project.

What he is seeking, however, is approval from the town governing body for a PILOT (Payment in lieu of Tax) agreement similar to the tax abatement deal previously negotiated with the town for the residential portion of Vermella Crossing.

That arrangement was for a 30-year PILOT agreement which called for Russo to pay the town an annual “service charge” of $375,000 (representing 10% of the gross annual rents), with yearly adjustments keyed to inflation and a state budget cap, plus an annual $2,500 “administrative fee.” Russo also agreed to make a one-time-only $150,000 contribution to the town’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund and to repave part of Bergen Ave. to the trestle bridge.

As of last week, Mayor Alberto Santos said that the terms for a PILOT for the proposed expansion were still being discussed.

Meanwhile, Russo has filed an application, under the name Schuyler Crossing Urban Renewal LLC, with the Kearny Planning Board for approval to undertake the new project which, according to the application, will include “all necessary drainage, sanitary sewer, water, landscaping and lighting improvements.”

Russo is seeking variances from the Schuyler Redevelopment Plan for impervious coverage and ground signs, he’s asking for a design waiver to provide 9-foot by 18-foot parking stalls and he wants an exception to allow parking for 106 as opposed to 133 spaces.

Plans call for 64 “garage/ driveway” spaces and 42 “open parking” spaces.

In neighboring Harrison, meanwhile, Russo is building a single five-story structure that will hold 400 apartments (a combination of studios, one- and two-bedrooms) plus 15,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space and various amenities.

In other development news, the Kearny Zoning Board of Adjustment voted Nov. 6 to clear the way for Helo Holdings Inc. to expand its South Kearny heliport by building a new helicopter hangar/maintenance facility, offices and lounge for a total of 40,465 square feet at Central Ave. and Webster Road.

With the capacity to handle more aircraft, Helo CEO Jeff Hyman has projected that the number of flights, primarily by corporate clients, would likely increase by an additional 45 per day, from the current 20 to 27 daily flights.

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