By Laura D.C. Kolnoski |
OCEANPORT – Allison Hall, a former U.S. Army administration building on Fort Monmouth, has entered into a purchase and sale agreement with TetherView Property Management LLC, the firm that owns an adjacent high-profile structure, Russel Hall. TetherView is also the name of the private cloud provider that now occupies Russel Hall. Both the property management and technology companies are owned by Michael Abboud. Both halls are considered historically significant.
After acquiring Russel Hall last year, Abboud renovated the 43,000-square-foot building as headquarters for his technology firm, with additional office space for smaller tenants, including a satellite location of the Monmouth County Veterans Services Office. He will pay a little more than $2.3 million in cash for the 36,665-square-foot Allison Hall on Signal Avenue, and proposes to use it for office, retail and/or commercial uses. Some office space may be sublet by TetherView to other tenants. A restaurant is allowed on the ground floor. TetherView will also construct a 12-foot-wide promenade along Parker Creek linking the development with Oceanport Avenue, for a total estimated investment of $14 million. The company will also be responsible for funding a 500-foot section of sewer main along Oceanport Avenue connecting to the fort’s new sewer system.
TetherView submitted the only compliant bid proposal for the parcel consisting of five buildings on 12 acres when it was offered for sale in December 2016. The proposal was reviewed and scored by an evaluation team comprised of FMERA staff. Once TetherView’s plan was deemed to complement the fort’s reuse master plan, the parties entered into negotiations.
Just last month, the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA) approved a flurry of logistical adjustments to its redevelopment plans for the Allison Hall parcel, indicating a deal with a then-unnamed purchaser was imminent. The changes involved switching uses for a proposed boutique hotel with Barker Circle, part of the same Oceanport redevelopment area. Staff said the amendments were in response to “market driven” requests for flexibility in what could be considered a best use for a fort parcel.
“(This transaction) will help to attract investment and jobs, and result in substantial tax revenue,” said Dave Nuse, FMERA director of real estate development. Nuse reported last week that there are two large parcels remaining in the Oceanport section of the fort to be sold – the large, obsolete Myer Center currently being demolished, and what’s known as “The 400 Area” along the railroad tracks, slated for transit-oriented mixed-use redevelopment.
In announcing the sale of Allison Hall at its October monthly meeting, FMERA officials said TetherView has expressed interest in constructing a 55,000-square-foot hotel of up to three stories and 110 rooms on the site of an existing building next to Allison Hall that is part of the sale and would be demolished. Development of a future hotel is optional and would require a separate redevelopment agreement, officials said.
Following closing on the property, TetherView is required to commence construction of the first phase of the project within 45 days, all necessary demolition and renovation of three structures including Allison Hall. The waterfront promenade is to be completed within 18 months after closing. Phase 2 will see construction of business lofts and retail space. The project is expected to create approximately 100 temporary construction jobs and a minimum of 150 permanent full- or part-time jobs within 18 months of the completion of Phase 2, or TetherView must pay a penalty of $1,500 for each permanent job not created, as stipulated in FMERA rules.
“TetherView is still considering whether they will build a hotel there, but this will be a commercial and retail area,” said FMERA interim chairman Robert Lucky, who chairs the authority’s Real Estate Sub-Committee that recommended approval of the purchase and sale agreement, which passed unanimously.
“Total investment in Fort Monmouth could be a billion dollars or more when all is said and done, resulting in incremental tax benefits for the three host municipalities (Eatontown, Oceanport and Tinton Falls),” said Bruce Steadman, FMERA executive director. Nuse noted at the meeting that 74 percent of the 1,127-acre former base has been sold, is in negotiations or at some point in the redevelopment process.
This article was first published in the Nov. 1-7, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.
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