Township mulling new municipal office proposals

Joanne Degnan/The Robbinsville Sun The township currently rents 7,907 square feet of space in Sharbell's Town Center Office Building at 1 Washington Blvd. under a lease that expires next May.

Joanne Degnan/The Robbinsville Sun
The township currently rents 7,907 square feet of space in Sharbell’s Town Center Office Building at 1 Washington Blvd. under a lease that expires next May.

Two developers, including the township’s current landlord, recently gave municipal officials a total of six different options for purchasing commercial condominium space for township offices.

“I’ve started to review them, but it is a lot of information,” Mayor Dave Fried said July 10 about the documents submitted in response to the township’s request for proposals (RFP). “We’re really going to need some time as a team to analyze the different proposals before we can comment.”

Sharbell, which now rents the township 7,907 square feet of office space at 1 Washington Blvd. under a lease that expires in May, presented municipal officials with four options. The first two propose reconfiguring space inside the Town Center Office Building at 1 Washington Blvd. and the other two options are for finished and unfinished space inside Sharbell’s West Lake Office Building at 1 Union St.

David Bonanni, president of Bonanni Realty and managing member of Robbinsville SDF LLC, also submitted two commercial condominium proposals. The first involves an existing building at 17 Main St., where a hardware store and later a bakery once were located, and the second site is an undeveloped 2.4-acre wooded lot at 101 North Gold Drive near Route 130.

The township’s RFP had stated it wanted about 10,000 square feet of space in either a planned or existing building with a move-in date of spring 2014. The RFP said the town preferred to own rather than rent, but would consider either option.

All proposals submitted by Sharbell and Bonanni involve purchasing commercial condominium office space, but they vary in square footage and price. The proposals are for spaces ranging from roughly 10,000 square feet to 15,000 square feet with price tags between $2.4 million and $5.5 million.

Township Engineer and Economic Development Director Tim McGough said July 9 he was surprised that only two developers responded by the July 2 deadline.

“We would have liked to have received more,” McGough said.

The Sharbell Proposals

The first of Sharbell’s four proposals offers to sell the township all the rented space it is currently using in both the basement and second floor of the Town Center Office Building – plus second-floor suites now leased to two other tenants – for $2.51 million. This option, which is contingent upon Sharbell being able to relocate the two second-floor tenants (Casper Chiropractic and DCAT), would give the township 10,063 square feet of total space and the ability to create a 1,000 square-foot Township Council chamber in the basement level.

The second Sharbell proposal would sell the town 12,055 square feet at 1 Washington Blvd., including the third-floor where Sharbell offices are now located and part of the basement level, for $3.65 million. This envisions relocating some of the township’s basement offices to the third floor and leaves about 2,300 square feet in the basement to reconfigure for the council chamber and support space.

Sharbell Senior Vice President Tom Troy said July 10 that if the town were to choose this option, Sharbell would relocate its top-floor offices elsewhere in the Town Center Building or to the West Lake Office Building.

Joanne Degnan/The Robbinsville Sun Sharbell has proposed selling the township municipal office space in its West Lake Office Building at 1 Union Street.

Joanne Degnan/The Robbinsville Sun
Sharbell has proposed selling the township municipal office space in its West Lake Office Building at 1 Union Street.

“We have a few tenants that are downsizing or moving at the end of their lease terms within the next few months, which gives us sufficient space in the current two buildings to relocate if the town decides to purchase our floor,” Troy said.

The third Sharbell proposal is to sell the township 10,661 square feet of contiguous office space (3,600 square feet finished and 7,061 square feet of unfinished “shell” space) on the ground floor of the West Lake Office Building for $2.42 million. This scenario is contingent on Sharbell’s ability to relocate its two existing ground floor tenants, Collier Insurance and Novacyl.

The last Sharbell proposal is to sell the township all the unfinished shell space on the ground floor of the West Lake Office Building (7,061 square feet) and 3,518 square feet of finished space directly above on the second floor for $2.39 million.

The Robbinsville SDF Proposals

Bonanni’s first proposal offers the township an existing one-story 13,668-square-foot building at 17 Main St. owned by Robbinsville SDF LLC. The concept plan states that the building’s exterior would be renovated with a new roof, siding, stone, windows, entrance and ramps and provide site improvements, including all new paving, drainage, sidewalks, curbs and landscaping.

The price tag for the existing 13,668 square feet is $2.58 million and, if the township desires, a small building addition for the municipal court could be added to bring the total space to 15,000 square feet for a total cost of $2.83 million.

Bonanni also proposed constructing a new building on vacant land at 101 North Gold Drive, which his group has under contract to purchase. The proposal calls for a new 15,000-square-foot municipal and courthouse building and all necessary site improvements and parking for $5.35 million. The 2.4-acre site with access to Route 130 North is large enough that a separate 5,000-square foot police headquarters could be constructed there in the future should the township want to do that, Bonanni wrote in his proposal.

However, the North Gold Drive project is unlikely to be ready by the township’s May 2014 target date because the land acquisition is pending and environmental and planning permits are needed before construction can begin. The proposal lists the completion date as “to be determined.”

Homeless since 2005

The township has been without a permanent home since 2005 when its municipal building on Route 130 North flooded and a mold infestation made it uninhabitable. The 89-year-old building was torn down in March 2012.

Township officials have decided it would be more economical in the long run to own office space rather than continue to lease space at 1 Washington Blvd. The current lease for 7,907 square feet of space costs $162,357 a year, McGough said.

Last summer, the Township Council approved spending $3 million, including the sale of $2.8 million in bonds, to finance the purchase of a the top floor of a new commercial building that Roma Bank planned to build on Route 33. Roma later announced it was merging with Investors Bank and cancelled the project.

Last month, the council repealed the ordinance authorizing the $150,000 down payment and bond sale for the Roma project. Final contracts with Roma had not been signed, so none of that money had been spent.

 


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