Home Brick by the Numbers Foodtown by the Numbers: Inaction Has Cost Taxpayers At Least $3.9M

Foodtown by the Numbers: Inaction Has Cost Taxpayers At Least $3.9M

11
SHARE
The former Foodtown site off Route 70 in Brick. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
The former Foodtown site off Route 70 in Brick. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

When Brick residents debate the future of the former Foodtown property on Route 70 – now the subject of a lawsuit – the discussion often focuses on whether the township should use the site as a generator of tax dollars or whether it should be used as a park or other public facility.

Little, however, is spoken about the six-figure bill taxpayers are footing each year on what is effectively a mortgage payment stemming from the purchase of the site in 2003 for $6.1 million. Each year, according to statistics released by Mayor John Ducey this week, taxpayers fork over $465,192 in debt service on the project and, since 2003, have paid $3.9 million on the property.

M&M Realty Partners, a redeveloper chosen by the township council in 2009, would have paid the township $7.5 million for the property upon receiving approval to build a full-service hotel at the site as required by an agreement signed by the two parties. But M&M said a study in 2010 showed a hotel would not be viable at the site and, in 2013, requested permission to modify the agreement to allow for the construction of a 192 unit condominium complex, approximately 19,000 square feet of commercial space and 72 rental units over top the commercial space at the site.

ADVERTISEMENT - STORY CONTINUES BELOW


In September, Ducey moved to terminate the agreement with M&M over what he said were missed deadlines for the site to be developed; the termination was formalized Dec. 29. M&M is now suing the township to stay on as developer, claiming that the township did not fully cooperate in getting state Department of Transportation approval for development and never responded to a $100,000 deposit it mailed after the termination was announced in September.

As litigation over the site plays out, taxpayers will continue funding the debt service on the property while simultaneously losing out on potential tax revenue. It is difficult to predict the value at which the site would be formally assessed if developed, and there is also the possibility that a payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT, could come into play which would likely reduce the township’s overall generation of revenue. But other shopping centers in town are uniformly Brick’s largest taxpayers. They include:

  • Brick Plaza: $63,472,700 assessment; $1,245,207.81 tax bill.
  • Costco property: $39,720,600 assessment; $779,238.97  tax bill.
  • Laurel Square (Pathmark): $35,453,400 assessment; $695,525.01 tax bill.
  • Bay Harbor Plaza (Stop ‘N Shop, Burlington Coat Factory): $23,996,500 assessment; $470,763.48 tax bill.

Since there are no hotels in Brick, the valuation of such a property would be speculatory in nature. In Toms River, the site on which the TR Hotel (formerly a Holiday Inn) is located is assessed at $13,840,000 and generates $212,829.91 in tax revenue each year. The Howard Johnson hotel in Toms River, also an aging property, is assessed at $7,200,000 and pays a tax bill of $110,720.76. Toms River’s property tax rate is slightly lower than Brick’s. All tax data was derived from the 2012 tax year.

Ducey this week alluded to a preference among township officials that the ultimate plan for the site includes some type of public use as well as private development. Council President Susan Lydecker, in a statement, said the council’s goal is for the site to get back on the tax rolls.

“We are in office now and our main priority is the best interests of our community,” Lydecker said, pointing out that the site was purchased before any of the current elected officials in town had been in office. The site was purchased under former Mayor Joseph C. Scarpelli and M&M was chosen as redeveloper by a township council whose members have all since left the governing body or lost re-election.

“Six years is long enough to wait, especially when there were at least five other developers who bid to do this project,” Ducey said. “If one of them were chosen, I am sure there would be a completed project by now and we wouldn’t be dragged through litigation because we are doing the right thing for the taxpayers of Brick.”


SHARE
  • Joseph Woolston Brick

    Lets look at the real reason the township bought the Foodtown site to begin with, plain and simple, it was purchased to keep Home Depot from building their newer store there and for a political payback, no denying it, we all know it. Scarpelli had brought Loews into Brick and having Home Depot in that spot would have affected Loews sales, and Scarpelli bought the property to keep that from happening and sold us a bill of good as to what the property was going to be used for. Unfortunately the plan backfired and Home Depot took over the old Costco and it easier to get to than if it had been built at the Foodtown site. People say things happen for a reason ( even in this case where it was dirty and underhanded) when the Hurricane hit, The Foodtown lot became key in the recovery process, it’s where all the refuse from the damage was taken and stored, if we hadn’t had that lot, where else in town would it had been taken? I cant think of one other place without tearing up a piece of property, the High Schools football fields? Just where? We lucked out having that spot. ( I myself equated that pile with the 9/11 pile in NYC, no it didn’t represent lives lost thank God, but it represented all the people in Brick who’s homes and belongings were destroyed, I don’t cry easily, but when I used to pass that pile I would tear up a bit as I knew that two of my friends homes were in that pile along with all their possessions that will never be replaced and they were homeless) So having that lot during the hurricane recovery process helped Brick, kept the town in order and we recovered a bit faster than other towns being able to have the refuse stored there until it could be taken away. I would say that was worth the 3 million over the years, wouldn’t you? Now it’s time to retired that lot, and make it a park is the way to go, no more ratables, as if the money from that lot would lower our taxes, This town is being overbuilt and our taxes keep going higher, with all the building and new businesses shouldn’t they be lowering with the theory that more business equals less taxes? How about all the empty lots from the businesses that have left Brick, all those old gas stations that have been standing useless on RT 88 for decades? There is one thing this town has to do and that is pass a law that before any Mayor or Township Councill buys anything in town that it has to go to a VOTE first. I shiver to think what we would be paying out right now if we had actually not stopped the purchase of the Ice Palace! Basically before another Foodtown debacle is created by another mayor or township council, you ask us first if we want to buy it. Remember it’s OUR cash not yours.

    • Brandy the Dog

      I agree with you, seeing that lot filled with so many peoples homes and belongings broke my heart! Most definitely something that will never be forgotten!!

    • Andy Pat

      If my memory is correct Scarpelli was mayor at time of purchase. Acropolis was a council member AND on board with that purchase. Acropolis and his council tried to purchase the Ice Rink (as a community center). Yes, the vacant Foodtown lot was positively utilized post Sandy. That opportunity was pure luck. No one would propose purchasing a multi million dollar site for a temporary place to store trash from a hundred year storm. And while Scarpelli may have had some political motivations, who thinks a Home Depot 2 miles from the other HD made sense or was a good environmental fit for this site??

  • John B Casson

    I care about open space and parks but enough already. The taxpayers are being hit twice with this property. Once to pay interest on purchasing and lost ratables for taxes.

  • Brandy the Dog

    I will see you all next year, discussing the very same topic!!! Til we meet again!!

  • angiono

    Foodtown, Traders cove, etc we buy high and sell low on all available lands and are loosing valuable taxpayer saving dollars on all these properties. No one figures in what it costs each taxpayer to keep, maintain and insure all these open places. Real estate values are down due to Sandy and not having the flood maps finalized. We forget it still take $xxx to run the own so whther 100 people are paying thier fair share or 50 the amount stays the same and the 50 remaining have a greater share or burden as an example. Tighten your budget Brick live within your means.

  • j.jones

    Just think what the town could do with $3.9 million ….get out of the real estate business..

  • Andy Pat

    The developer is suing us (the town). We should be suing him! His inaction has cost us (the town) at least 3.9M!!

  • jwblack

    The last thing we need is section 8 housing to help meet the demand of Lakewoods generational housing plans. Try to get a room at the Hilton by home depot, often fully booked and not cheap. M and M has other agendas that are not in our best interest. We need something that will improve the living quality of the taxpayers and make Brick property values increase. Please please no more chain restaurants!

  • Mark Story Jenks

    Public transportation in Brick is woefully inadequate. The nearest NJ Transit bus station is in Lakewood, and it’s not a pleasant experience. It might be feasible (?) if the township could entice the state to build a modern bus terminal at the old Bradlee’s/foodtown site and pay to lease the land from the town. It might be a boon for commuters. Safeguards could be implemented to address environmental concerns regarding storm water runoff and Forge Pond.
    Just an idea that might make good use of the empty property. It is all set up for ingress and egress. Buses would have no problem. But now that gas is cheap maybe commuters would rather drive their own vehicles and just deal with the traffic. Most people will not even consider public transportation. They don’t have to. Privileges can be disadvantageous if they make you narrow minded.

  • Jeff Stallop

    Damn I wanted to shit on the bathroom floor 🙁