The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority on Tuesday approved a measure that will provide for greater flexibility in the funding the authority has devoted to the planned NextGen Research and Technology Park.
CRDA had approved $3 million for construction of a Federal Aviation Administration laboratory in the first building of the park first announced in 2006. That money, however, was approved for the South Jersey Economic Development District. SJEDD was at the forefront of the project for a number of years, but is now in the midst of attempting to transfer the lease for the park’s land after numerous financial problems were discovered at the agency.
Changes made to the agreement Tuesday would allow the NextGen park’s board, a nonprofit entity, to access those funds rather than the district in anticipation of a forthcoming lease transfer. CRDA also voted to allow more flexibility in how the funding can be used.
Of the total, $375,000 will be able to be used for either legal services or the purchase of architectural plans for the project. The architectural plans, which could be used by the park’s potential developer, New Vistas, are owned by SJEDD. The district has said it hopes to recoup as much as $220,000 for them. SJEDD accumulated more than $1 million in debt while leading a $7 million infrastructure installation at the park.
NextGen park Executive Director Ron Esposito stressed that he was appreciative of CRDA’s flexibility as the project has moved forward.
“This will really give us more flexibility as we move on,” Esposito said.
Officials have yet to break ground on the first of seven planned buildings at park planned in Egg Harbor Township. The project is in the midst of a complicated process needed to transfer control of the project. Several funding streams must be closed out before the lease can be transferred.
NextGen park officials have said they hoped to break ground on the first building by the end of this year. However, several deadlines, including one to execute a contract with potential developer, New Vistas, have been pushed back due to the complications of the transfer.
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