Weehawken grants 25-year tax abatement to Port Imperial development

Developer will provide land, public parking, and affordable housing money in PILOT deal

The development is at the southern end of Weehawken Waterfront Park. Photo courtesy Felix Mizioznikov/ Shutterstock.com.
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The development is at the southern end of Weehawken Waterfront Park. Photo courtesy Felix Mizioznikov/ Shutterstock.com.

The Weehawken Township Council has approved a 25-year tax abatement for a property being developed by Roseland Residential, a subsidiary of Mack-Cali Realty Corp., on highly-coveted waterfront land at Port Imperial Boulevard .

Roseland, which has developed many waterfront properties in the area, is developing a 302-unit property with various indoor and outdoor amenities adjacent to the township Waterfront Park and Recreation Center. The project is expected to cost $132 million.

According to a legal notice the township posted, without a tax abatement it would not be possible to attract the required construction or permanent financing needed to develop the project and the attached public space. The site has been vacant for several years.

Under the tax abatement, which has a comparatively long lifespan, the payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT) will afford the township a number of benefits, according to township officials. They said the PILOT funds and public space the developer will give Weehawken will be equivalent to the value the developer would pay in conventional taxes.

The bigger picture 

Like many other developers on the waterfront, Roseland agreed to a number of measures that would accommodate a major expansion of the Waterfront Park. As Port Imperial saw a boom in residential development, striking tax deals with developers has been a major factor in Weehawken’s ability to create park space along the township’s waterfront over the past decade.

The parking deck attached to the Roseland development will have 300 spaces. Eighty of them will be for public use.

Roseland also agreed to create 73 parking spots on part of the site that it owns. A portion of the property and the parking lot will be handed over to Weehawken for public use connected to the Waterfront Park.

“This is significant, and extremely valuable land,” Mayor Richard Turner said. “It will make up 2.5 acres of the park. There were originally going to be two buildings at five or six stories, but instead they’re building one ten-story building. That land would normally cost eight or nine million dollars, and they’re building the lot at their own expense. The company is also giving us a few million in funding to be put toward affordable housing in other places.”

Turner said that the township acquired an additional 3.5-acre property that will be used to expand the Waterfront Park in a separate tax deal struck on a separate development. “This [expansion] could only be done through a financial structure including PILOTs,” Turner said.

Turner said that the township expects to receive the same revenue in the form of PILOTs that it would receive through conventional taxation, since they’d be receiving a portion of money that would’ve gone to the county and state, along with property valuable to the park expansion.

Weehawken’s school district is losing $200,000 in state funding every year, according to officials’ estimates. Turner said that the township can appropriate PILOT funds from developers such as Roseland to offset the decrease in school revenue.

“PILOTS work, depending on what we can make developers agree to do in order to help our community,” Turner said. “We’ll have 16 continuous acres of parkland on the waterfront, and it’ll be the biggest recreational complex on the Hudson River other than Liberty State Park. It’s all been done without using any of our money, and it would’ve cost $50 million if we paid for it ourselves.”

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