Annin Flag has withdrawn a plan to convert its iconic factory building into loft apartments.
In May, the Town Council asked the Planning Board to do a study that could have started the building’s redevelopment. The Planning Board was supposed to have determined whether the Annin property, and several properties around it, could be designated as a so-called area in need of redevelopment. The report on that was supposed to have been presented to the Planning Board in a special session tonight, but Annin notified the town that it will not be moving forward with the conversion.
“It was a hope of mine to do this is as an Annin project,” said Carter Beard, Annin’s president and CEO and a descendent of the family that founded the company late this afternoon. “But we’re facing some competitive pressure in our industry and we’re going to invest in our factories.” The Verona building was opened in 1919 but had not been the center of Annin’s operations for some time. The company has modern one-story factories in Ohio and Virginia.
Beard said the next step for Annin is to determine whether to keep the building for conversion later or sell it. “We’re not sure,” he said. “We will study that over the next few months and decide on the best course of action.” Annin, which had talked about pursuing Verona landmark designation of the building but never filed an application, had been envisioning New York-style lofts that would have taken advantage of its open floor plan and high ceilings.
If the Annin property had been designated an area in need of redevelopment, Verona could have restructured taxes on it as as a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes or PILOT, which would direct more money to the town. Instead of having to share property tax revenue–55% usually goes to the Board of Education, 20% to Essex County and just 25% to the town–the town government keeps 95% of a PILOT and sends 5% to the county. The BOE gets nothing from the PILOTs now in force in Verona.
But while Annin is abandoning its shot at a PILOT, another development is pursuing one. The Planning Board will decide tonight whether the former Brunner auto dealership lots should be designated as an area in need of redevelopment. Those lots, which are across the street from the Richfield Regency, have been purchased by Mark De Mattheis, a 1983 graduate of Verona High School, who won approval from the Board of Adjustment in January to build small apartment buildings on each one. If the Planning Board accepts a report that De Mattheis has done on the designation, it will go to the Town Council for approval, perhaps as soon as next Monday’s meeting.
UPDATE: The Planning Board had to table any discussion of the De Mattheis designation because the public was not notified of the special meeting in time. It will take up the issue again at a meeting on October 2.