The continuation of the soil removal is the latest step of the Borough effort to turn the site of the former Dewey School into a usable structure. The last class left in 1992 and the building it’s self was torn down in 2004. Since that time a number of ideas have been brought forward to use the site. One was to use the land to build affordable housing for seniors , however the Borough could not find a developer who wanted to take on that job. Another was called Carlyle House which would call for a six floor 48 unit building with two levels of parking for 84 cars. That proposal was ended when an agreement of setting aside 20% of the units be used for low, or moderate income housing. The current plan for the site has made by the group 297 Palisades Urban Renewal Co. LLC in August of 2013. This plan has a total of 44 units, which 37 would be two bedroom units, and a parking deck to accommodate 87 cars in an on site space. Some of the things that had to be agreed on was to drop the low income housing mandate, and to give the developer a 30 year PILOT tax abatement.
A PILOT program is sometime use to allow a municipality to collect revenues from non-profit organizations such as educational, or medical institutions. It has also been use to help spur commercial development. One of the larger PILOT agreements is the one between the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the City of New York over the World Trade Center. This agreement was made pre-9/11 and the PA has a different level of payment since then.
In the agreement pass by the Bogota Council give the developers, 297 Palisade Ave Urban Renewal LLC, a 30 year tax abatement for 30 years. In the first ten year the Borough is scheduled to receive 10% of the occupied rent from the apartments when all units are rented. It increases to 11-14 % for the next 10 years then 15% for the final ten years. Borough official estimate a total of $3.3 million for the life of the agreement. Under normal property taxes bill the Borough estimated total for the same time frame would about $2.3 million at the current tax rate. During the 30 year agreement the developer could not ask, or sue, for a reassessment. Under the PILOT agreement the Borough would 95% of the funds.
The PILOT agreement however does not include a payment to the Board of Education, accept for the 60% of the tax on the sale of the property it’s self. This point has be unacceptable to members of the community, including two seated Councilmen Jorge Nunez and Evaristo Burdiez Jr who question the finances of the agreement, to make sure the Borough was not giving money away to the developer. It is the lack of money to the Board of Education to cover the cost of any children would live in the apartment when they become students in any of the public schools in the Borough that is the concern. While not every apartment may not have school age children residing in them, even a limited number of students may cause a strain on the system. The big concern would be for Bixby School which should be the primary choice for new students in the Eastern side of Bogota.
Other concerns is the effect the on the Borough infrastructure, The sewer lines lines that already exist are the same ones the Dewey used to serve the 100 Students , and Teachers when the school was in use. The developer will be the one responsible to make sure of the connection to the Borough’s system is safe and adequate for the project. Parking will be under the structure with access off of Palisade Ave, it has yet to be determined if there will be a plan to ensure the safety of the Students who need to walk by it to & from School. As well as the increase traffic on Palisade Ave, which will be use as access to the parking deck.