North Bergen is looking to redevelop three properties in a prime area of Bergenline Avenue between 85th and 87th Streets.
The township has approved a redevelopment plan for properties including 8619, 8515, and 8505 Bergenline Avenue. The properties are directly across the street from James J. Braddock North Hudson County Park, facing eastward toward New York City.
The area contains a vacant lot that has previously been approved for a mixed-use development, as well as a condominium building that has fallen into disrepair, and an adjoining retail space. 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.
Mayor Nicholas Sacco and the Board of Commissioners approved an ordinance adopting a redevelopment plan for the properties at its August 17 meeting. This is the latest step in the process of redeveloping the site.
The first step was taken back in 2021. The Board of Commissioners passed a resolution authorizing a redevelopment study in November of that year.
The area was subsequently designated an area in need of redevelopment by both the Planning Board and then the Board of Commissioners. Following the adoption of a resolution delineating the area for redevelopment in May of 2022, the Board of Commissioners also directed the Planning Board to draw up a redevelopment plan.
The Planing Board reviewed and recommended the plan be advanced in July of this year ahead of the Board of Commissioners meeting on the 13th, when the ordinance was introduced. Now, the Board of Commissioners have approved the plan after a public hearing and vote on the matter in August.
Delineating the redevelopment area
The Mariah Condominiums at 8515 Bergenline Avenue currently contains a five-story, 20-unit residential building constructed in 1950. The building has had multiple, ongoing reports of non-functional basic utilities such as heat, hot water, an elevator that has been non-functional for years, and multiple fire safety violations which have remained outstanding for more than a year.
The township has been forced to address a number of these life and safety issues, such as paying to repair the chimney and boiler. These costs were then assessed as liens against the owners of the building, however they have not been paid and the total amount of the liens currently exceeds $30,000. The property also currently has a lien from the North Bergen Municipal Utilities Authority in excess of $100,000 due to nonpayment of water fees.
The building’s condition continues to deteriorate, with visual signs of structural problems, and the township regularly receives numerous complaints illustrating a pattern of sanitary, safety, and accessibility violations that have not been corrected by the property owners. These include, but are not limited to, a lack of heat and hot water, a need for chimney and boiler repairs, infestations of mice and roaches, a lack of preventive maintenance and testing of fire alarms, extinguishers, etc., combustibles near an egress, and a non-operational elevator.
The township contends ongoing negligence in maintaining basic facilities has created an unwholesome, unsafe, and unsanitary living environment for residents. Township officials are considering condemnation proceedings on this property alone in order to facilitate redevelopment of the entire parcel.
The other properties included in the Area in Need of Redevelopment include 8619 Bergenline Avenue and 8505 Bergenline Avenue. According to the township, 8619 Bergenline Avenue is an undeveloped lot that has been approved for a 10-story, mixed-use development with two ground floor commercial spaces, garage parking, and upper floor residential units. Meanwhile, 8505 Bergenline Avenue contains two attached commercial retail buildings, including a two-story and one-story building.
Bicycle business included if interested
During the public hearing, no members of the public spoke, but Sacco asked Castro if James Vincent Bicycles at 8505 Bergenline Avenue was included in the ordinance. Castro confirmed it was included in the redevelopment plan, but that no final site plans had been submitted by a redeveloper that includes the site.
“Formal plans have not been submitted yet,” Castro said.
“They haven’t decided yet,” Sacco said of the bicycle business. “I think they were offered to be a ground floor store” Castro confirmed that: “If they were interested.”
Sacco noted that if the bicycle business sold the property, they were offered the opportunity to open on the ground floor of the redevelopment. He added that nothing is being done forcefully, however, and the owner of the business can choose not to sell and remain in place.
“If they want to they can,” Sacco said. “No one is forcing them to be involved… The key is no one is being forced to do anything they want or don’t want.”
After the meeting, Castro reiterated to the Hudson Reporter that while the property is included in the redevelopment plan, that does not mean it will be redeveloped. The redevelopment plan allows a redeveloper to propose something on the site, but it would need to acquire the property first.
“The redevelopment plan includes it, but just for consideration,” Castro said. “So if the bicycle shop decided that they wanted to sell, then it would be included. So it was included just in case. Nobody’s going to push them out. They can remain if they so choose.”
Castro confirmed that if the redeveloper did not acquire the property because the owner chose not to sell, they can still move forward with final site plans for the other lots in the redevelopment plan that are under their control. Final site plans may be heard by the North Bergen Planning Board in the future. For more information, go to northbergen.org.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.