On Monday night, the South Orange Village Board of Trustees voted unanimously to introduce an ordinance which, if adopted following public hearing, would approve a financial agreement for the sale of Village Hall.
In June, the Trustees voted 6-0 to designate Landmark Hospitality Group as the conditional developer for the adaptive re-use of Village Hall, marking the first step toward the town’s sale of the historic structure to a private entity. Landmark plans to develop the building as a restaurant.
The financial agreement with Landmark entails a 20-year payment in lieu of taxes — or PILOT — program. The payments would begin at $35,000 per year in Year 1, rising to roughly $100,000 by Year 20, said Village redevelopment counsel Joseph Baumann, who added that the payments would be inclusive of the land taxes. When asked by Village President Sheena Collum, Baumann said he did not want to talk purchase price Monday night but would discuss that information at a full presentation at the next Board of Trustees meeting on November 9.
Baumann added, “The real meat and potatoes is the redevelopment agreement that deals with everything on how this building gets built …. historic standards, project schedule, deadlines, restrictions in the deed to maintain the character of the building.”
Baumann said that the plan was to approve the redevelopment agreement at the next Board of Trustees meeting on November 9. In the meantime, the financial agreement is on file at the Village Clerk’s office at 76 South Orange Avenue (it can also be found at southorange.org appended to the meeting agenda).
Baumann said that the “big show” would take place at the November 9 meeting with a “full blown hearing” on the financial and redevelopment agreements with Village President Sheena Collum, Village Administrator Barry Lewis and Baumann making a “comprehensive presentation” and answering questions.
Lewis added, “I know the public has been interested in the process and the numbers behind [it]. That will be a part of my presentation.” Lewis added that the introduction of the financial agreement on Monday night was “a preliminary step because the ordinance is a two-step process.”
Collum said that despite the lack of details on Monday, the Trustees were “not trying to play it fast and loose.” She noted that there was “no substantive difference from what Trustees had seen a few months ago” but that hammering out the agreements involved “lots of details,” including the historic easement, “protecting the interests of the Village and the building.”
“I encourage everyone to come out to the meeting on November 9,” said Collum. Later, Collum added, “We may not have the full presentation in advance of the meeting but will have resources on the [Village] website.”
Baumann explained, “The redevelopment agreement is also the purchase and sale agreement. We will be considering that on the 9th. We drove a very hard bargain.”
Note: The Trustees also passed a resolution Monday night extending conditional redeveloper designation for Landmark Hospitality through to November 10.