Fort Lee Approves Special Needs Housing Proposal on Lower Main Street

Mayor says the proposed affordable and special-needs-designated units at 69 Main St. should satisfy Fort Lee’s requirements “attributable to Redevelopment 5.”

Fort Lee took a step toward closing the gap between demand and availability for housing for adults with special needs last week, when the Borough Council unanimously approved a 15-story, 140-unit high-rise apartment building on lower Main Street at its regular meeting Thursday.

More than half of the units would be affordable housing, and 57 units would be dedicated to people with special needs if the Fort Lee Planning Board approves the plan.

“We need to satisfy our low and moderate income housing obligation,” said Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich of the development at 69 Main St. “And that’s all attributable to Redevelopment 5. I’m having it built off-site, as opposed to at Redevelopment 5.”

Sokolich added that the Mayor and Council are “hopeful” the move will “take off the affordable housing obligations of Redevelopment 5.”

“If it doesn’t satisfy the need attributable to Redevelopment 5, there are safeguards in these agreements with these redevelopers that they are ultimately responsible for whatever comes their way,” Sokolich said.

Speaking at the meeting Thursday, 65-year-old Ellen LaFurn of Ridgefield said she spent more than 20 hours the previous weekend in a folding chair with a small umbrella waiting out a severe thunderstorm because there was a chance she could get one of 10 apartments available in Ridgewood for her 28-year-old daughter, who used to work at Pathmark in Fort Lee—she’s now at the Pathmark in Edgewater—and has Asperger’s syndrome.

“This is what parents are willing to do for their children,” LaFurn said. “I’m a senior citizen, and I have many friends who have adult children; the parents have serious health conditions. And we are panic-stricken because there is just not enough housing.”

Fort Lee Councilman Joseph Cervieri said the Fort Lee governing body is “very supportive” of the effort to provide affordable housing to people with special needs and “all those who provide so many good services to the people of Fort Lee.”

The amended agreement with Assad Y. Daibes Memorial Foundation for Special Needs would provide for studio apartments up to three-bedroom units at the end of Main Street, where it becomes River Road leading to Edgewater, which is the current location of Prestige Auto Body.

Sokolich said of the longtime auto body shop, “Hopefully, in the very near future, there will be a relocation” to Route 4.

“This is a place where people can continue with what we believe to be a normal and productive life, and if Fort Lee can play a part or some role in that by facilitating the housing that they require, I am all for it,” Sokolich said.


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Rona September 18, 2012 at 04:38 AM
Daibes is slowly climbing out of the Edgewater pit, and will now start to put high density units where the don't belong in Fort Lee.
William Mays September 18, 2012 at 05:04 AM
We've always had high-density units in Fort Lee, and helping out people with special needs is never a bad thing.
Rona September 18, 2012 at 02:03 PM
So the fact we have been high density makes it necessary to add even more? Let Daibes put it in one of his many other projects in Edgewater. Do we need a 15 story building on the corner of River Road & Main street?
Steve Goldstein September 18, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Rona, according to the Mount Laurel decision, apparently we do. I'd like to see the Mount Laurel decision, and all its requirements, completely reversed, but that is not on the foreseeable horizon.
William Mays September 18, 2012 at 04:03 PM
I mean, if you want to live in a town without high-rises, Fort Lee isn't your town. You can't expect them to stop building high-rises because you object to them. We already have a few high-rises very close to there.
Baba O'Riley September 18, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Let's hope that Prestige Auto Body moves to another location in Fort Lee or another ratable goes away. Whether we agree or disagree with the Mount Laurel decision we need to follow its directives.
William Mays September 18, 2012 at 04:15 PM
I think that they're moving to another location in Fort Lee, I hope so, I always use them for my car.
Rona September 18, 2012 at 07:03 PM
I've lived in town for 45 years and have seen it's changes from near the start. Between the high rises starting with the Horizon Houses, and the extremely rapid conversion of single family properties to duplexes. No wonder our Mount Laurel obligations are increasing. Now we'll have 2 - 47 story towers by the bridge so theoretically our obligation will be even higher. In the meanwhile the prior administration of Mayor Alter completely ignored the school system to keep taxes down or through ignorance. Plus being involved in zoning issues allowed all kinds of redevelopment to occur. Now we have tax, school & bond issues, & density problems.
William Mays September 18, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Why don't you move to Pennsylvania then? They don't have that many high-rises. You live in a metropolitan area. If you want a nice quiet place to live, I suggest the Poconos.
Rona September 18, 2012 at 08:23 PM
I should you can worry about the nonsense I previously mentioned you seem to be oblivious to it.
Jerry Wish September 18, 2012 at 09:03 PM
Rona: Do NOT blame Jack Atler, it is Mayor Sokolich that allowed his former employer James Demetrakis to develop 2 50 story buildings
Howard L. Pearl September 19, 2012 at 06:26 PM
The Mount Laurel decision and the Americans for Disabilities Act legally mandates virtually every new major community housing project to provide accommodations for the elderly and disabled. The Mount Laurel decision particularly was offensive to many people because of the extreme onus placed on communities. Like the Abbott Decision, it is an example of our lawmakers trying to do the right thing without thoroughly examining the ramifications.
William Mays September 19, 2012 at 07:29 PM
I'd rather have the elderly and disabled than some of the usual people who reside in community housing projects. More peaceful that way and it provides a home for elderly and disabled people
Barbara LeBow September 21, 2012 at 02:10 AM
And by the time this building is built the current seniors will have died off, waiting.
Barbara LeBow September 23, 2012 at 02:58 PM
That portion of Main Street, would best be utilized by Mountain Goats and Alpine Skiers. Couldn't they find a more dangerous corner for a housing center for the disabled and senior citizens. The only good that can come of it is that it will move people off the 6 to 8 year waiting list by killing them off in traffic accidents. Get real people! Think about what you are doing.
Luca D. September 26, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Barbara, Sometimes you make no sense at all, and this is one of those times.
KB January 01, 2013 at 09:47 PM
To Luca D.-- Are you the same Luca who sent a letter to a Fort Lee coach last week?


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