North Bergen eyes redeveloping part of Bergenline Avenue

Mayor Nicholas Sacco said the project was held up in court due to 'political opposition'

North Bergen is looking to redevelop three properties in a prime area of Bergenline Avenue.

The North Bergen Board of Commissioners have approved a resolution authorizing a redevelopment study of 8505, 8515, and 8619 Bergenline Avenue. 8505 Bergenline Avenue is currently home to James Vincent Bicycles, 8515 is the Mariah Condominiums building, and 8619 is a currently vacant lot adjacent to the Mariah’s parking lot. The properties are directly across the street from James J. Braddock Hudson County Park.

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The study will seek to determine if the properties can be designated as an area in need of redevelopment, the first step in redeveloping the site. The move authorizes the North Bergen Planning Board to conduct the study, hold a public hearing on it, and determine if the properties constitute an area in need of redevelopment. If the planning board declares it as such, the board of commissioners can vote to do the same.

Legal delays

According to township counsel Tom Kobin, this was tied up in court due to the neighbors behind 8619 Bergenline Avenue.

“We were in litigation with the property just to the north of this,” Kobin said of the vacant lot.

Kobin continued: “It was challenged by Larry Wainstein. It was important we got a resounding decision in our favor from the appellate division on this.”

Mayor Nicholas Sacco called it a “political stunt.”

“We had to go through the court, but we won the case,” Sacco said.

Sacco added that while some had complained that developing the land would block views to the park, he said that would happen regardless.

“A handful of people said that it was going to block the view of the park,” Sacco said. “Anything built there is going to block the view of the park.”

Trouble with the Mariah

Kobin said that the township is also asking the planning board to study an additional property to the south of 8619 Bergenline Avenue, the Mariah building at 8515.

“This is an additional property building that is really financially in the hole,” Kobin said. “They can’t fix the building.”

According to Kobin, the elevator has been broken for years and has not been repaired because the owners cannot afford to do so.

“This will be a good area study to see if we can get a redevelopment there,” Kobin said.

“The Mariah used to be a very nice building,” Sacco said. “But once it went to condos, that’s when the problems started where people didn’t want to maintain it.”

According to Sacco, the building conditions continued to go downhill.

“They need to fix the elevator, but refuse to spend the money,” Sacco said.

‘Unliveable’ conditions

Sacco also referenced an “absentee landlord situation,” adding it was “unbelievable and unlivable” to go that long without a working elevator. He said that short of outright condemning the property, the township has little options and is essentially “powerless.”

“We can fine them until they are blue in the face but they can’t afford to fix it,” Kobin said.

If declared an area in need of redevelopment, the township can condemn the property and seize it through eminent domain. However, this resolution only asks the planning board to consider if the properties are an area in need of redevelopment. This is one of the intial steps of redeveloping land.

The matter may be heard at the next North Bergen Planning Board meeting at 7 p.m. on Dec. 7 at Town Hall at 4233 Kennedy Boulevard. For more information, go to northbergen.org and click on the link on the calendar webpage.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com. 

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