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Re: Whitlock Cordage Interrupted?
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So far, promise and building are empty

Jersey Journal -- Nov. 22 -- J. Renshaw

Housing Trust of America received the royal treatment from residents and the city's political elite when the company announced plans to develop the historic Whitlock Mills, an old rope factory near Ercel Webb Park.

Many in the community saw the project as a key component in their fight to combat the rise of drugs and crime in the Bergen-Lafayette area and took valuable time out of their days to attend public meetings and voice their support for the developer.

The ever-accommodating City Council bestowed a generous 40-year tax abatement on the project, applauding the affordable housing component and arguing that the unusual tax break was necessary to rejuvenate the area.

That's why it's even more disappointing to see the building - while aesthetically pleasing - unoccupied and causing grief for some in the same neighborhood that supported its development.

Rosalyn Browne, president of the Communipaw Avenue Block Association, said she is fearful nothing will happen.

"I am devastated that this has not come about," she said. "We have not heard from them and we supported them on this and that's not good."

So what's happening?

I tried to call Wally Scruggs, of Housing Trust of America, to get the bottom of the story several times, but my phone has yet to ring with a call back. Such calls were returned quickly when they were promoting a grand opening of the apartments in 2005.

The Housing Trust of America Web site says Whitlock Mills will be ready for occupancy in the first quarter of 2005, with "substantial completion" expected for the fourth quarter of the same year - both of which have yet to happen.

Another Web site exclusively promoting Whitlock Mills says the building will open in the spring of 2006.

Thankfully, the powerful Jersey City Redevelopment Agency is planning to step into the picture.

"We support the community and they supported the project, so we are going to take the lead to make sure that we get some answers for them," said JCRA Executive Director Bob Antonicello.

Housing Trust of America leaned on the community's support to secure the project - and the millions of revenue that comes with it - so they need to quickly prove that they were not just using the community.

Whatever the reason for the delay, the public should be informed. The community has sat by and watched millions of dollars of public and private investment in the waterfront, so they can wait longer if necessary - but not much longer.

Posted on: 2006/11/22 6:23
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Re: Whitlock Cordage Interrupted?
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My understanding is that the developer in is the process of trying to settle with the bonding company that insured the project. With a resolution, they will be able to complete the construction.
The monies were provided by private and federal funds, I don’t know what ramifications there are with the current lawsuit.
I did hear that a number of individual actions are being taken by some of the lessees.
I’m just hoping that they will be able resolve these issues soon, for their project would definitely be a stabilizing agent for the neighborhood.
I’ll let you know if I get any updates.

Posted on: 2006/11/20 13:45
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Re: Whitlock Cordage Interrupted?
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Thanks for the information Parkman. Do you know if the City of Jersey City or the State of NJ has inteveened in the lawsuit? (Like I said, I heard there was a lot of public money sunk into the project so that I would think that the government would have standing. However, if the developer is cushy with the pols, they are probably protected shocking as that may sound). Alternatively, the City if it holds a Note on the project should agressively move to foreclose so that the project can be auctioned off. I think you are right that the project has the potential for falling apart quickly and becoming a blight on the entire area of the city rather than a catalyst for renewal. Why are not all the people with the leases suing and screaming?

Posted on: 2006/11/20 9:30
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Re: Whitlock Cordage Interrupted?
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Seven months ago the developer and their contractor reached an impasse. The developer claimed that the contractor was behind schedule and the contractor said the developer had run out of funds and was not paying his crew.
They are now in litigation with no date set as to a resolution. $45,000,000 worth of construction sits silent after 200 leases had been signed. Many of the buildings are exposed to the elements and have started to deteriorate, if this project sits for the winter, who knows what will happen to it.
As to the cobblestone street, Whitlock did not remover the stone, that was done by the contractor on the opposite side of Manning Ave, I was told they will start reinstalling the original stone next week.

Posted on: 2006/11/17 10:23
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Whitlock Cordage Interrupted?
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Anyone know what disaster has befallen the Whitlock Cordage Project- that's the loft style development/redevelopment at the Junction (where Grand and Communipauw meet)? Occupancy was suppossed to start last April but work came to a standstill in March. This developer got loads of public money too. Also, the cobble stone street next to the developement was torn up about four months ago by the developers and there seems to be no movement to replace the stones.

Posted on: 2006/11/17 9:31
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