23
Sun, Apr

River Styx Eminent Domain: What are we as a “community” trying to achieve?

River Styx Project
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This is the fourth article is this series, where we will examine the River Styx project from the aspect of what “we as a community” are trying to achieve, and how this led to the Eminent Domain process.

Background:

Currently, Hopatcong Borough lags behind our sister lake communities in both medium Real Estate prices, and the percentage of real estate price increases for the average home owner over the last three years (Source: Realor.com). While there are a number of possible reasons for this lower ranking, this is a big problem for anyone living within the Hopatcong area that owns a home.

Area

Medium Home Price

3-Year Increase in Value

Lake Hopatcong

$350,000

+ 25%

Mount Arlington

$332,000

+ 10%

Landing

$225,000

- 2.5%

Hopatcong

$187,000

+ 0%

  

In an effort to help resolve these issues, and to revitalize the Hopatcong area, the Hopatcong Borough Council started a Redevelopment Plan back in 1996 as a way to increase land values, and the overall value of our area. After several years of planning and analysis, the Council focused on and selected the River Styx area as the first targeted area for redevelopment.

What was the Plan?

The initial redevelopment plan included, three mixed-use zones of commercial business and housing, a residential-only area, a waterfront district and a parking zone. The design standards called for a consistency of design and material, where the waterfront zone would ensure public access to Lake Hopatcong, and the roadway would be wide enough to accommodate two-way traffic, sidewalks and parking.

For the first stage of the project Hopatcong gained the support of Greentree Development Group to develop 15 Condominiums, and six retail spaces along the river Styx Area.

Ground Braking for Hopatcong Phase OneDuring the initial Groundbreaking ceremonial in 2013, Mayor Petillo commented that, “That after five years of hard work, hope and vision, this is an exciting day for Hopatcong, as we are ready to develop properly to make sure this is a showcase for the Borough. We are seeking to bring in Jobs, Business, Residents and Revenue. That will bring in the hustle and bustle of the downtown area.

Where we are today:

While the development project with Greentree Development Group under the name of “Lakepointe”; has created 15 Condominiums, and six retail shops. Many of them currently remain unsold. According to the current Real Estate agent “Livia Deak” from Century 21, “We have six of the Condominiums sold, and one of the retail spaces is inhabited.

This lack of sell-through has caused Greentree Development Group to hold-off on the remaining redevelopment phases until they can get a better feel on the capability to sell the currently available units.

Real Estate agent Livia Deak from Century 21, feels “These are beautiful units, and perfectly priced for first time home buyers (average cost of $220,000), empty nesters, or someone that is seasonal. All of the units have lake views, with quick access to the lake, the location of this units are ideal, and they have first-class amenities throughout.

River Styx Redevelopment Condominiums

What needs to Happen from here?

Livia Deak from Century 21, feels it always comes down to “Location…Location…Location where the sales of new units depends on surrounding area, as it adds to the overall impression of the area, and influences the potential buyer.”

And absolutely, prospects have commented on the overall status of the current area”. As a Real Estate agent who handles several projects like these. “We always support revitalization projects as it makes the town prettier, increases the value, and will make your town shine. It also increases home values across whole community. We have a similar project happening in Wanaque that has gotten great success, as a revitalization project.” Stated Livia Deak.

Do Revitalization Projects Work?

According to the Urban Land Use Board (Source: http://thejcra.org), Eminent domain is a critical tool for revitalizing cities and improving the quality of life in urban and suburban neighborhoods. The use of eminent domain has been essential to the successful redevelopment of projects across the country. From 42nd Street in New York City and Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., to Kansas City, Kansas, and Greenville, South Carolina, public efforts to bring new life to declining areas would not be possible without the power of eminent domain. Normally these projects have a 13% return on development of the home owners in the area.

In Conclusion:

The Hopatcong Lake Regional News hopes that you find this article informative, and if you feel strongly one way oe another, we hope that you will become informed and involved as we move towards the Land Use Board meeting on September 6th 7:30PM, at the Hopatcong High School Auditorium.

Please Remember: That according to the letter sent, “The public hearing will be limited to comments as to whether the area being considered would qualify pursuant to the statute as a redevelopment area.” So come before the Land Use board with facts as to why your home/area should not be considered as part of the redevelopment project". Emotion on its own will not prove your point!

Interviewed for this article:

LIVIA DEAK of CENTURY 21 Crest Real Estate, Inc.

142 Route 23 North
Pompton Plains, NJ 07444
phone: 973.686.1500
mobile: 973.903.2284