5-year build-out for Passaic Ave. project

Conceptual site plan courtesy Town of Kearny Proposed layout of Passaic Ave. apartment complex in Kearny.
Conceptual site plan courtesy Town of Kearny
Proposed layout of Passaic Ave. apartment complex in Kearny.


The final product is still at least five years down the road but at least Kearny is a step closer to seeing development of its Passaic River waterfront now that it has a redeveloper agreement in hand.

Last Tuesday, the mayor and Town Council voted to authorize a deal with 113 Passaic Ave. Urban Renewal LLC, an affiliate of Russo Development, for 17.4 acres of land on the river side of Passaic Ave., to build 458 upscale apartments (310 one-bedrooms and 148 two-bedrooms) spread among three buildings.

Plans call for 582 on-site parking spaces (63 surface and 520 garage) and amenities including a clubhouse/fitness center, dog run, two tennis courts, pool and a 30-footwide public waterfront walkway along the river, according to the redeveloper agreement.

No “vertical construction” may begin until the redeveloper has secured all needed government approvals, including permits involving waterfront development, bridge deck sidewalk, treatment works, wetlands, environmental remediation, preliminary and final subdivision, Passaic Ave. traffic improvements, and any approvals that may be needed from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. EPA and Hudson County Soil Conservation District.

Mayor Alberto Santos said that Russo is still “in negotiation” to acquire two of the various properties in the project site, formerly occupied by industries. He said the “assembly of lots” and an environmental cleanup of the site “will take some time.”

The redeveloper agreement mandates that Russo “submit site plan application to Kearny Planning Board” for part of the project by July 1, 2016, although time adjustments are allowed, either for Russo to complete a “binding sale agreement” with property owners for the initial phase of the project, or for Kearny to “initiate condemnation proceedings” on those properties.

The agreement calls for Russo to begin construction by Nov. 1, 2017, and to complete the entire project by April 1, 2021.

Russo is obliged to make a one-time payment of $687,000 as a contribution to Kearny’s affordable housing trust fund which, Santos said, the town can use either to rehabilitate existing residential units or for new construction.

He must also pay an annual $10,000 “administrative fee” and maintain a $25,000 “professional fee” escrow account to pay for the services of project consultants as needed.

Santos told The Observer that, later this month, Russo is expected to seek a PILOT (Payment In Lieu of Taxes) agreement from the town, as he has done for a prior residential project (Vermella Crossing) on Bergen Ave. and for another anticipated on the other side of Bergen.

“We will review the [PILOT] application with the town attorney and town appraiser and then would take formal action on the application,” he said. “By way of example, if the same number that was used for Vermella Crossing were to be used on Passaic Ave. $2,500 per unit, with an annual inflation escalator), the PILOT amount would be $1,145,000 in Year 1.”

At last week’s meeting, Santos said he found the density levels for the project “consistent with what is currently on Bergen Ave. This is a balanced proposal and I hope the redeveloper will be able to carry it out.”

Learn more about the writer ...