In Oct. 2012, Kearny hired a firm to begin preparations to develop and market several vacant town-owned meadows sites for outdoor advertising in what was billed as a lucrative investment that would rake in big bucks.
Today, a little more than four years later, the town is still waiting for that investment to pay off.
But the outfit in charge anticipates movement on at least one of the sites by early 2017 with a second to follow on its heels.
A third projected site, however, may never come to be.
In November 2013, AllVision LLC – retained 13 months prior as the town’s billboard consultant – was named the town’s exclusive licensed agent to build and manage the outdoor advertising sites.
However, in December 2013, a rival company sued claiming it was unfairly shut out of the bidding process, thereby delaying work on the project.
Eventually, that lawsuit was dismissed by the courts and that cleared the way for AllVision to proceed.AllVision has done prior jobs for the N.J. Turnpike Authority in Secaucus, Ridgefield and Elizabeth.
Chris Wiss, East Coast director for AllVision, told The Observer last week that there are several administrative hurdles to overcome before actual work can begin.
He said the state Department of Community Affairs first has to sign off on any proposals for the construction of billboards on public properties.
Then a land use approval is needed from the N.J. Sports & Exposition Authority (successor agency to the former N.J. Meadowlands Commission) since the projects are targeted for the Kearny marshes which fall under NJSEA jurisdiction.
Lastly, the Kearny construction office has to issue a building permit.
Wiss said the project now closest to fruition is a tract on N.J. Turnpike’s eastern spur at 700 Harrison Ave. – about a half-mile east of Walmart – where a double-faced billboard sign is slated to rise.
In compliance with state regulations, the side that can be viewed by southbound traffic on the Turnpike will be “static,” meaning that just one advertisement will be displayed, while the side seen by northbound motorists will be “digital,” so that multiple advertisements can be displayed, Wiss said.
“We’re in the red zone with the east spur site,” Wiss added. “The NJSEA has already approved it and once we get DCA to sign off, then we can go for the Kearny permit.”
AllVision has assigned a sub-contractor, Adams Outdoor Advertising, to sell the advertising for this billboard.
If the weather holds, Wiss said he anticipates the billboard going up sometime in January.
Standard highway signs, said Wiss, are typically 14 feet tall and 48 feet wide.
“It’s probably a two- to three-week process to build. We have structural engineers who examine and test the soil to recommend the type of footing and foundation needed. DEP (N.J. Department of Environmental Protection) is reviewing that as we speak.”
Under the town’s contract with AllVision, for the east spur site, Kearny is due to receive a lump-sum payment of $65,000, payable in annual $13,000 increments for five consecutive years.
Additionally, the town will get an annual “base license fee” over the 35-term of the license, starting at $48,750, with yearly increases, building up to $91,000 in the final year.
Also: the town will collect an annual “revenue percentage fee equal to 32.5% of the net revenue derived from the [advertising sales] ….” AllVision would get the balance.
For further clarification: “Since the base licensee fee is to be deducted from gross revenue to arrive at net revenue, it acts as a minimum that the town will receive from the percentage arrangement.”
Activity on the second billboard site on the western spur of the N.J. Turnpike at 538 Harrison Ave. is expected to heat up “in the February/March window” of 2017, Wiss said.
Securing advertising sales for this location – which will be digital on both faces – has been assigned to a joint venture of Outfront-AllVision.
For this site, Kearny will get a lump-sum payment of $100,000, payable in annual installments of $20,000 over five years; an annual base license fee ranging from $75,000 for the first year to $140,000 in the 35th year; and an annual revenue percentage fee of 32.5% of the net revenue derived from the advertising sales, with the same stipulation for minimum payment as for the east spur site. Again, AllVision would receive the balance.
A proposed third billboard site off Rt. 280 is being downplayed by both Wiss and town attorney Gregory Castano.
The site, which lies close to the highway, is on the perimeter of an inactive landfill which DEP plans to cap and DEP is reluctant to allow any activity that could infringe on the capping, Wiss said. Problem is, he and Castano agreed, DEP lacks the funding to do the job and there’s no guarantee it will get it. So the project remains on hold, indefinitely.
If it does happen, Castano said the arrangement with AllVision calls for the town to get “no lump sum payment,” but it would get an annual license fee starting at $50,000 and going up each year for 35 years, plus a yearly take of 25% of annual advertising sales.