SOUTH AMBOY — Buried in discourse about the municipal budget, the city’s redevelopment agency struck a deal to sell O’Neill Properties Group land for a new waterfront restaurant.
City Council President Fred Henry said O’Neill agreed to pay a non-refundable $800,000 deposit for a site where it will build a waterfront restaurant, which would also net the city $300,000 a year after completion. That would be the first step toward a $1½ billion project that will ultimately result in a 150-acre mixed use development project along the northern shore that would be five times as large as the current Waterfront neighborhood, which Henry called one of his greatest achievements.
“I would love to see this project through to the end because we have laid a foundation that can accommodate the mammoth new community with infrastructure improvements, the new rail station, roads and bridges,” said Henry. “It will make South Amboy the brightest jewel on New Jersey’s coastline.”
Henry helped work out the deal with O’Neill Property Group and he said his campaign for mayor is largely motivated by a desire to make sure everything continues to move along. The state last month disallowed the city from incorporating into the budget $800,000 in income from the land deal, which is expected to be consummated in December.
As a result, the tax benefit of the sale will be realized next year, but Henry and other Democrats expressed anger that state officials would not spare city homeowners who are facing tremendous challenges.
“There was no valid reason for the state to force South Amboy homeowners to pay higher taxes this year,” said Henry. “With Trenton frequently raiding municipal aid revenue and driving up our costs, this kind of development is our only hope for tax stability.”
O’Neill is has a contract with Amboy Aggregates to acquire the sand company’s 40-acre tract, which would pave the way for a development on the northern shore that could mirror the current waterfront. The city’s redevelopment agency is currently negotiating with a ferry service to begin operations from South Amboy to Manhattan and Henry recently met with Arthur Imperatore to move those discussions along. From there, Henry said the new development zone would move north along the coast.
O’Neill Properties Group, LP, founded in 1988 by J. Brian O’Neill, is a leading privately owned real estate development company specializing in transforming abandoned properties into abundant communities where people can live in comfort, work in confidence, and play.
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