Boro’s patience sought with limo/office plan


Staff Writer

SAYREVILLE – Despite concerns about a lag in construction, the borough has given a limousine company an extension of time to build a garage and offices on Main Street.

The Sayreville Economic Redevelopment Agency (SERA) granted a nine-month extension to Regal Limousine Service for the development of a vacant property near Kennedy Drive. Regal expects to move from its current site on Raritan Street once the first phase of construction is complete on Main Street.

The first phase of the project is to construct a building that will house the limousine office and garage. Regal began construction on that facility approximately two years ago, according to Borough Engineer Jay Cornell. Regal’s owner, Robert J. Duffy, told the Suburban this week he expects construction to resume in about two weeks.

Plans for the second phase, which involves the construction of an office building, have been sidelined by the withdrawal of a would-be tenant, he said.

SERA Executive Director Randy Corman said “the agency is very anxious to see something happen to this site.” He said one of the new buildings should be up in about nine months.

Though he ultimately approved the extension, SERA Commissioner Michael D’Addio was reluctant at first. He said he initially approved of Regal’s plans, but noted that the construction is taking much longer than expected.

“Everything was supposed to be done by last year,” he said. “We were kind enough to give them an extension eleven months ago.”

D’Addio asked Duffy when he plans to complete construction on both buildings.

Duffy said he could not provide a date.

“I am not an engineer or a construction guy,” he said, noting that the project’s first phase would be done within nine months.

Corman said the agency had the option of giving Duffy the nine months for the one building and then check on the progress of the site before approving the second building.

D’Addio then reiterated his desire to know when the whole project would be complete.

Mayor Kennedy O’Brien, who is also a SERA commissioner, said the site is different from a residential development because the developer faces a risk due to market conditions.

He likened it to former plans for the Sunshine Bakery site, where a planned Internet facility was no longer adequate in the real estate market 12 months after plans were devised.

“We are here to encourage economic redevelopment,” O’Brien said, adding that obstacles should be minimized for businesses seeking to locate in Sayreville. He said officials should promote a reputation for the borough as a business-friendly community.

If the borough does not have patience and a realistic view that adapts to current market conditions, O’Brien said, businesses will go to other towns that ask them to take fewer risks.

“Keep in mind,” he said, “that if there was a shortage of office space, this project would have been completed. Right now, there is a glut of office space on the market.”

O’Brien also told commissioners to bear in mind that without tenants, Duffy cannot obtain loans to construct the office building. He said tenants for warehouse space would be easier to find, but a warehouse would not create much in the way of jobs or tax ratables.

D’Addio agreed with O’Brien that the market was not there for office space at the time, but voiced his concern that the sewer pipes now on Regal’s property are an eyesore.

Duffy, who lives in Sayreville, said he has invested 30 years of savings into this project so far.

O’Brien expressed his and the agency’s gratitude to Duffy for wanting to invest in the borough.

“We want to see you succeed,” O’Brien said. “I do not think there are that many people who would risk that much money.”

Duffy thanked the SERA commissioners for the extension.

“I need a little bit more time and patience, but you will be happy when the project is done,” he said.

SERA will revisit the project in nine months.

The borough Planning Board has twice approved minor changes to Regal Limousine’s original site plan.

Cornell said modifications include creating additional office space in the two- to three-story building. Some 2,260 square feet was taken away from the limousine section and added to the office building portion. This reduced the size of the limousine parking garage from 11,047 square feet to 9,585.