Developer pitches 585-unit housing complex at Bergen County office park

Officials say S. Hekemian Group has warned it will pursue litigation if its project is not approved

400 Parsons Pond Road
400 Parsons Pond Road (Google Maps)

A large office park in Bergen County could soon be home to hundreds of apartments if local officials sign off on the plans.

Developer S. Hekemian Group is proposing a 585-unit, market-rate complex at 400 Parsons Pond Road in Franklin Lakes, the site of a former IBM and Express Scripts office complex, reported.

The 89-acre property off of Interstate 287 is owned by Cigna Corp., but Hekemian is in contract to purchase it for an undisclosed price. It’s valued at $84 million, according to the news outlet, though a majority of that is tied to future plans for the site. Cigna pays $1.4 million in annual property taxes.

To sweeten the deal, Hekemian has offered to donate 3.5 acres to the borough for the development of 55 affordable housing units, though it’s not clear whether that land is part of the IBM complex

Borough officials claim Hekemian has warned them that it will pursue legal action if no agreement if the proposal, which would require a rezoning, is not approved.

Regardless, the project faces a long road ahead. In December, the borough authorized the planning board to conduct a preliminary investigation of the proposal and the borough planner has been tasked with determining whether the property qualifies for redevelopment.

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The borough council still needs to adopt a resolution and declare the site in need of redevelopment, which would enable the planning board to override zoning rules.

Financing for the project is also an open question. The developer may seek a payment in lieu of taxes. Franklin Lakes’ public school system is highly dependent on property taxes, which could impact officials’ appetite for a PILOT plan.

The project will be the subject of a joint hearing by the borough council and planning board Wednesday evening, though no vote is expected yet.

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— Holden Walter-Warner