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NJ Needs Stable Source of Funding for Redevelopment

April 30th, 2001 by

Redevelopment

  • Though the State is spending millions to acquire open land, New Jersey has no complimentary stable source of funding for redevelopment, which would attract future growth into existing communities and away from open lands.
  • Inadequate funding for public improvements to induce redevelopment is a major reason why many projects that would rejuvenate already-developed communities cannot go forward. For example, experts estimate that it will take at least $2 million to demolish and cleanup the Newark-Irvington Pabst brewery site alone, more than the underlying land is worth and so a discouragement to any private investor.
  • State spending is made available to encourage development on open land – such as the $250 million in state incentives given just to Merrill Lynch for construction of its campus on rural land outside Trenton.
  • Some 64 percent of voters surveyed in the last year by New Jersey Future approved the idea of a $1 billion bond to rehabilitate New Jersey’s large and small cities. This compares favorably with the 66 percent of voters who approved creation of a stable source of funding to save 1 million acres in November 1998.

If New Jersey is to remain strong economically, it cannot meet its voter mandate to save 1 million acres of open land without attracting growth somewhere else. Attracting new growth to existing communities maximizes the private investment in our homes and businesses, as well as the public investment already made in roads, rail, utilities, schools, libraries and other public institutions – and redevelopment does New Jersey’s environment the most good.

There is widespread support for redevelopment. Builders and environmentalists have long united in their call for directing more state spending to rebuild ailing roads and infrastructure, essential first steps to attracting growth and new investment to existing communities. Voters too, show overwhelming support for redevelopment.  Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of Garden State residents polled in January 2001 by The Star-Ledger/Eagleton-Rutgers say that investing in already developed areas that need repair should be a bigger priority in New Jersey than buying up and preserving open spaces.

The only question is how much to invest. New Jersey Future proposes creation of a $1billion stable source of funding for redevelopment. (See “20 Ways to Move NJ Toward a More Prosperous, Just and Healthy Future,” on-line at www.njfuture.org) Such funding would be  
the complement to the bond for preserving 1 million acres; and it would allow New Jersey to seize such opportunities as redevelopment of the Jersey City Medical Center, a collection of art-deco high rises that will be vacant in two years when the Medical Center moves to newer buildings, as well as the many redevelopment opportunities within non-urban communities.

Such investment in redevelopment need not be made solely by bond, as with open space funding, but it must be made. In fact, without significant state investment in rehabilitating our communities, the preservation of one million acres will not be possible.

 


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