21 Aug 2014
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Hekemian Discusses Affordable Housing at ShopRite Hearing

The owners of Boulder Run worked with the township to make a compromise when they previously applied for their expansion.

Hekemian Discusses Affordable Housing at ShopRite Hearing

Developer Bryan Hekemian explained some of the details behind a compromise made between Wyckoff and Munico Associates, the company which owns Boulder Run, which led to the expansion of Boulder Run and brought 16 affordable housing units to the township during a meeting of the Wyckoff Planning Board Wednesday night.

Hekemian is objecting to Inserra Supermarkets' plan to build a new 62,000-square-foot ShopRite at the site of the former A&P on Wyckoff and Greenwood Avenues. He had that the affordable housing units, built during Boulder Run's expansion between 2008 and 2010, were a financial loss, but did not give any specifics.

While pro-Inserra attorney John Lamb cross-examined Hekemian Wednesday, the developer explained the cost of building a mixed-use building is much higher than building for retail alone. The construction cost 50 percent more than the company had budgeted for, a total sum which Hekemian described as "millions of dollars" and said would not be recouped during the 30 years the apartments are classified as affordable housing.

When questioned by Lamb, who was hired by the owner of the vacant Greenwood Avenue lot, Hekemian said the company does make net income off the residential portion of Boulder Run.

Hekemian and another witness, Wyckoff affordable housing planner Elizabeth McKenzie, both spoke about a compromise made between Munico and the township which led to Boulder Run's expansion being approved.

According to Hekemian, a previous Boulder Run application had been shot down because residents rallied against it. Two zones were then combined to allow residential and retail spaces to occupy the same lots in Boulder Run and supermarkets were added to the list of permitted uses, though there was already a smaller Stop & Shop in Boulder Run before the expansion.

"The intent was to ensure we would need absolutely no variances or any fast ones pulled on us in the eleventh hour of the application," Hekemian said.

McKenzie said the township had wanted Boulder Run to contain affordable housing in order to adhere to the state's Mount Laurel doctrine, which requires municipalities to have housing for low-income families. The doctrine was regulated by the Council on Affordable Housing until 2011.

"The focus was to make a compromise and sell it to COAH," McKenzie said.

Hekemian previously testified that he wanted the town to "painstakingly" review Inserra's application the same way it examined Munico's. The 16 affordable housing units and extra retail space replaced 104 regular housing units Munico had originally planned for the site.

The hearing will continue at a special meeting June 25 at 7 p.m.

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