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Lower Broadway Owner Pays Taxes, City Hopes To Discuss Development

LONG BRANCH: The owners of the Lower Broadway section of the city have taken a big step to mending fences and becoming the developers for the area.

Diversified Realty Advisors, operating as Long Branch Partners, LLC acquired the stretch of Broadway from Second Avenue to Liberty Street in June, 2014 and had preliminary plans to build approximately 800 units of different types of multifamily housing and 80,000 square feet of retail space for the area. The group also paid over $400,000 in back taxes for the properties.

The group now has ownership over 51 properties, but in 2015, liens were placed on the properties after Long Branch Partners did not pay approximately $350,000 in 2014 taxes on the properties. A September tax sale resulted in the sale of 18 of the liens to the third parties and the city placed liens on the remaining 33 properties.

However, the group has now paid all the back taxes, which total just over $1 million, according to Long Branch Tax Collector Carla Thomas.

In October 2015, the city filed a lawsuit which stated that Long Branch Partners should relinquish its claim on four properties in the Lower Broadway area that belong to the city. The suit also seeks $2.5 million from the group for non-payment of mortgage on other properties in the area.

A counter suit by Long Branch Partners states that the group is seeking $75 million in damages because they have paid millions of dollars in back taxes and professional services and have not yet been designated as the redeveloper for the property.

That suit is currently on hold while the two sides try to work out an agreement.

"Part of the agreement is that neither side wants to spend money litigating if we can move this forward," Long Branch Mayor Adam Schneider said.

Schneider has said that the first step in getting back to the negotiation table in terms of a redevelopment agreement was for Long Branch Partners to make the taxes current. Now that it has happened, Schneider said the city hopes to meet with them soon.

"We're going to arrange a meeting and sit down with them in the next two weeks," Schneider said.

The mayor said Long Branch Partners put for a first draft in the past and now they will need to provide planning documents and other information to show if they project is "economically viable."

"We'll listen to what they have to say," he said. ""We hope to come to a compromise and get this project moving forward."


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