“This is going to be a massive project,” Mayor Joseph Signorello III said on Friday, April 2. “It’s going to be 325 units and then 16,000 square feet of retail space, which essentially doubles our retail footprint in our downtown section, so it’s bringing in nice space for new restaurants, new cafes, everything that people want downtown. Also, within the project, there’s going to be an open public area between two buildings for dining, recreation, etc., so it’s really going to be a nice centerpiece for our new downtown.”
According to a recent press release unveiling the project, Greystone Capital Advisors, a national commercial real estate finance company, has arranged a $65 million construction loan for Capodagli Property Co. The construction loan to finance the project at 10 Westfield Ave. W. in Roselle Park — which will have a 518-space parking garage, in addition to the residential and retail space — was provided by ACORE Capital, a leading commercial real estate finance company and debt fund manager.
“Greystone Capital Advisors served as the financial advisor to the developer, Capodagli Property Co.,” Greystone president, Drew Fletcher, said on Monday, April 5. “The project is expected to be complete by 2023.”
Roselle Park native Chris Tokarski of ACORE, who helped get the project funded, said he met the borrower at a conference about a year and a half ago and stayed in contact with him, but had no idea that this would turn into working on a transaction in Roselle Park.
“He was a developer that has built other properties throughout New Jersey and Union County,” said Tokarski on Monday, April 5. “It was a unique circumstance, and I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to try to work on this project. Given that Roselle Park had put extra effort into making sure that we paid attention to it, we were ultimately able to get the transaction closed, which was great.
“The borrower built another property, which was finished in 2020, and it leased up quickly,” he continued. “So this is his second project in Roselle Park. The first one he did was very successful, and I anticipate that this project will lease up quickly as well. It’s a great feeling to be able to help gentrify and invest in the town that I grew up in.”
The mayor explained that the lot had been vacant since 2009, following the 2008 financial crisis. A car dealership there had closed down, and there was a lot of internal fighting as to what should go there. Finally, a developer purchased it and came to the borough with an idea to redevelop it.
“Like any project, there are compromises, so you have to figure out what makes the project financially viable, how many apartments make it worth it to invest in,” said Signorello. “Obviously, it’s a very expensive project but also what the town wants. We wanted to have more retail space, and we wanted to have some nice public amenities and a lot of parking. It’s really great timing, too, because we’re having some new businesses move into downtown, and having all these new customers in the downtown area is really going to help out.”
This is not Capodagli’s first development in Roselle Park, explained the mayor.
“They’ve been investing heavily in this area of New Jersey, and they’re very well known as sort of the first movers in towns that are redeveloping and investing a lot. They’re usually in areas such as Rahway, and they’re the first one to show a signal to the market that the town is ready to develop and ready to transform. We’re really happy that they’ve invested in Roselle Park. It’s been really positive.”
The company has already started demolition of the old building and is looking to start building this spring, said Signorello. The original idea was to do it in two phases, but Capodagli has seen such success with its first building in Roselle Park, Meridia on Westfield, that the mayor said he thinks Capodagli wants to go fast. Meridia on Westfield opened in the height of the pandemic with 140 apartments and filled up fast, the mayor said.
“I think people really love the location, and it was amazing to us, because we were really nervous during the height of the pandemic. We questioned whether anyone would actually move in, and it filled up within two to three months,” Signorello said. “Everyone was worried about having a lot of school-aged children in and bringing all these people into Roselle Park and we questioned if the schools were going to be able to handle it. … So far, we’ve only seen three students come from 150 apartments, which is pretty great. It’s mostly young couples and young singles moving into these apartments, which helps alleviate the burden on the schools.”
Denise DeVaughn, a Roselle Park resident and Capodagli’s accounts payable and office manager, said she was excited to see the project come to life.
“I get to see the architectural design, as the building was being planned on the Capodagli side, and the long overdue transformation of a lot that has sat vacant for over 10 years,” said DeVaughn on Monday, April 5. “This building is in the heart of downtown. … It’s exciting to be a resident and an employee of a company willing to invest $65 million into a town I love.”
The development is less than 20 miles from New York City. Signorello said the design of the apartments will appeal to millennials.
“The way the apartments have been marketed is affordable luxury,” said the mayor. “I think there’s a wide array — studios, one bedrooms, two bedrooms. But at the end of the day, I would say it’s definitely a more modern and upscale building that we’ve seen in Roselle Park in the past. It’ll have all the amenities — a gym, common area, recreation room, etc.
“In terms of attracting renters, I think there’s a generation of us that aren’t ready to buy a house,” he continued. “If you don’t have the time, energy or know-how to repair your own house, it could be very expensive, especially if you don’t have any kids, so millennials are getting married and having families later. Rather than having the headaches of a home, I think millennials are attracted to renting, just because it’s no fuss and it’s more convenient to have an apartment. But the hope is, people start off in a smaller apartment in Roselle Park and then, once they have a family, move out, buy in town and start a family in town.”
Signorello said he believes this project will transform Roselle Park, as it will attract visitors as well as residents, and he hopes people will see the vision he sees.
“We have a beautiful town, but the problem is our downtown area is the ugliest part, because no one has invested in it in a long time,” the mayor said. “The side streets and the town itself is very cute and quaint, but as you drive down Westfield Avenue, it’s really a poor representation of how beautiful the town is. Up until demolition, which had just happened, all we’ve had there for the past 10 years is an abandoned car dealership. There’s so much traffic in that area and we’re finally going to have something that’s representative of the town, that’s beautiful and something to be proud of.
“It’s going from a piece of property that generated less than $100,000 for us in tax revenue to, once it’s fully rented out, it’s going to be close to $1 million in tax revenue for us,” said Signorello. “So it’s really going to be an economic shot in the arm for us and help pay for the things that we need, such as police salaries, the Department of Public Works, paving roads and fixing potholes.
“More importantly, having something under construction motivates people to also invest in the town,” he continued. “It helps build momentum and helps show that we are doubling down on trying to have the best downtown that we can have and a more accurate representation of how beautiful a town we are. My hope is it attracts a new generation of people to Roselle Park. … People are really going to be quite impressed, once it’s finally done.”
George Capodagli, the founder of the Capodagli Property Co., said he is thankful the firm is going to work on a second project in Roselle Park.
“They have been pivotal in helping us carry on our mission to bring affordable housing to the middle class with a Class A product,” he said on Monday, April 5.