ABSECON — A vote on a controversial redevelopment agreement that would begin to clear the way for a failed senior housing project to open up to all ages has been postponed from Thursday's meeting to Dec. 20.
"I'm very happy with the agreement and I'm very anxious to go to sales, said Anthony Cappuccio, president of Boardwalk Design and Development Co., which is responsible for the Absecon Gardens project. "We just keep saying that over and over again: 'We're anxious to go to sales.'"
City Council President Gerald Falivene said between absences and recusals there would not be enough people to vote on the proposal Thursday. Besides, he said, the city was still waiting on models from Cappuccio.
The project at at New Jersey Avenue and School Street was one of many developed in the last decade as builders hoped to tap into what was thought to be a wealthy burgeoning senior population. But oversupply, coupled with the international real estate value crash, left many projects unbuilt or partially constructed.
A 2009 state law allows the conversion of some of these projects under certain conditions, but the conversions have been fought. Absecon’s Zoning Board is expected to rule on the conversion of another such project, the Visions at the Shore complex, at its Dec. 18 meeting, after six full meetings on the project.
Absecon's Planning Board allowed the Absecon Gardens conversion in 2011, a move that was challenged but upheld in court. That approval is now before the Appellate Division.
This redevelopment agreement between the city and Boardwalk Design reduces the size of the project by about 25 percent and increases the number of parking spots. It proposes:
n A total of 58 housing units with at least 121 off-street parking spaces.
n The existing building would hold 40 units, with eight Church Street townhouses.
n A second phase would add 10 School Street townhouses.
n The units would be all-ages.
n Six units would be reserved for low-income residents and six for moderate-income residents. Low-income is federally defined in 2013 in Atlantic County as $54,850 for a family of four, according to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, while moderate-income is $65,130 for a family of four.
Joe Courter is the chairman of the Save Absecon Committee, which is fighting in court to keep the Absecon Gardens project's age restrictions in place. In an email to supporters, he called the all-ages aspect "an end run around our lawsuit."
The group opposes the move for several reasons, he said in a telephone interview. It is unclear where children would play and the group fears the project would add traffic to the now-empty site.
He remains convinced that seniors would be interested in living in the age-restricted development and says developers never properly tested the market.
"I think there's a market here," Courter said. "Downtown Absecon is a beautiful market. It would be ideal for that type of situation, but somehow they've dug in their heels."
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