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Developer Needs Butler's Help for Complex to 'Survive'

Argonne Woods hoping to double condo occupancy by adding rental units to property.

The developer of Argonne Woods, a condominium complex on Route 23 in Butler, approached the borough council Tuesday seeking members' blessing before pursuing a zone overlay to convert units intended for purchase into rental properties.

In doing so, the developer would be increasing the number of occupancies at the complex from a total of 69 units to more than 120, including the rentals. 

The economy has had an effect on the condominium business, even as much of the development is still being built, according to developer Mounir Badaan, of MNB Realty Inc., who spoke to the council with his son, Brandon Badaan. The complex has only sold 10 of the 18 completed units, he said. About one unit has sold for every six months since they have been available.

"We just have a very bad situation," Mounir Badaan said.

In an effort to save the business, the Badaans approached the council before the Land Use Board to gauge whether the council would be agreeable to a zoning overlay, something that may be needed to amend the originally approved purpose of the property and now allow for rentals. Brandon Badaan said the application process for the overlay could cost thousands of dollars and the developers wanted to first hear the recommendation of the council.

"We wanted to shoot the idea around before those expenses are incurred," he said.

But council members agreed they felt more comfortable referring the issue to the Land Use Board for discussion and review. Mayor Robert Alviene was also concerned about the people who have already purchased property at the development.

"The people that did buy these things, they have to be considered at some point," he said.

Brandon Badaan presented drawings that showed a 700- to 1,000-foot separation that would be built between the rental and owned properties. More than 90 of the units would be rental-only.

The properties for purchase were priced between $300,000 and $400,000, Mounir Badaan said. But the rental units, which inclde one- and two-bedroom models, could be priced at $1,100 per month.

The Badaans were asked if they considered applying for zone variances, but Brandon Badaan said he did not feel variances would be appropriate for the site. The development is located in an R7 zone which does not currently allow for rental property.

"It would be so many variances that it just wouldn't fit," he said.

Borough Attorney Robert Oostdyk agreed.

"This would be a major variance," he said. "It's almost more appropriate to look at it as a zone change."

Mounir Badaan thanked the council members for their consideration and said he plans to approach the Land Use Board. He also stressed how essential the allowance for rental property at the development is to him.

"That's the only way we're going to be able to survive," he said.

L. October 03, 2012 at 11:54 AM
Didn't the developer realize this when the project began? The developer should buy out the new owners if they want it to be an apartment complex, but you can't have both and switcheroo.
Kelly Kavanagh October 03, 2012 at 12:25 PM
Seeing as the Avalon project in Bloomingdale was originally supposed to be for more than 20 units, and now it's less than 10 , I'd love to see another 'newer' rental option in the area.
Switcheroo October 03, 2012 at 01:10 PM
Also, I assume all approvals were given assuming this would NOT be a rental neighborhood. In addition to the folks who already purchased a unit, what about the neighborhood located right behind this development? They will now have a sizeable rental population bordering their backyards, etc. I dont think the town should bail out a developer who badly estimated his ability to sell these condos.
eotdevice October 03, 2012 at 01:24 PM
Switcheroo, exactly right. This developer took a gamble when he proposed this development. The market went to heck, he lost. No reason the Borough should change the requirements and stick the neighbors with rental units. This developer has the option to not continue construction or bank it for a number of years. He also has the option to lower the price on the units to get more sold as has been done with townhouse complexes in surrounding towns.
Meredith Mascitello October 03, 2012 at 01:25 PM
Why is it Butler's repsonsibility to help the complex survive? How about they stop building until they sell what they have bulit?
JenE October 03, 2012 at 02:55 PM
This development should have never been allowed to be built! No one feels sorry for Mr. Badaan!
Richard Dean October 03, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Maybe Badanco won't be able to build the mega banquet center they have gotten approval for on the old McDonald's Beach property in Pequannock Township...
Dean October 04, 2012 at 12:17 AM
They have to be kidding. They should be embarrassed and ashamed of even coming forth about this issue. This is coming from a family who's kids fly back and forth two and from Miami and out of the country every weekend to party. Let's get real, if you want to act big,take the repercussions for the choices that you make. Two years ago they were bragging about their lavish life on MTV. Get real.
Jason October 04, 2012 at 04:22 AM
Dean jealous much?? Haha. More people to help stimulate the economy in town. who is buying these days? Or can get approved for a mortgage? The condos are a steal for the price there going for anyways.
L. October 04, 2012 at 12:15 PM
Who was buying when they were being built? Nobody then either. A condo a steal at $450,0000, in Butler, haha.
Council October 05, 2012 at 06:58 PM
Someone should send a copy of that Northjersey.com article to the council.
Badman October 07, 2012 at 01:50 PM
Look if the council does nothing and they abandon the project ( a possible scenario) everyone gets hurt. What I can not believe is that this project was allowed to move forward with out financial guarantee backed by some serious cash or letter of credit. Before they are allowed to change anything the town should force them to pony up some serious dough as collateral to see the project gets completed. I have seen this so many times the developer promises the world only to come back and change the plan and most council members grant the developers wishes for fear of litigation. These guys are shrewd tough business men, the council needs to retain some real fire power and experts to make sure they are telling the truth,
NJ Steel October 07, 2012 at 04:02 PM
A steal? Gimme a break. Take a drive up there and all you'll hear is Rt 23 noise. No one wants to live there because its not a desirable place to live. I'd rather live behind those "luxury cookie cutter" townhouses. Even the access is not that convenient. I would only be against the rentals if the original deal was "No" to rentals. If that is the case then they should not be allowed to build rentals after the fact.
Larry Huyler October 07, 2012 at 04:16 PM
The ones who will get screwed from this deal will be those who have already purchased a condo from these guys and those live nearby. If it goes rental, the value of the existing purchased condos will decline. If the builder decreases the cost of the existing condos to unload them then everybody's property values will decline. The future economy does not look rosy.
Richard Dean October 07, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Another point, as I now recall when the hearings were held for the site plan, I believe that many nearby residents expressed their displeasure. Keep them in mind. I'm not sure if the nursing home proposed 30 years ago would not have been better even if it never did make it to the planning board back then.
Richard Dean October 07, 2012 at 05:30 PM
BTW, has anyone mentioned that the proposed apartment building(s) will be 55 feet high or about 5 stories which is a lot higher than the condo buildings.
Dee Duram October 09, 2012 at 10:17 AM
We can only hope.............
Richard Dean October 09, 2012 at 08:28 PM
In checking the property tax assessment site, I found that the average sales prices for the condos on Halina Lane in Argonne Woods is between $400,000 and $500,000; assessment for tax purposes around $325,000; and annual taxes in the range of $8,000 to $11,000. NJ does have a public web site under OPRA (Open Public Records Act) which is http://tax1.co.monmouth.nj.us/cgi-bin/prc6.cgi?&ms_user=monm&passwd=data&srch_type=0&adv=0&out_type=0&district=1403
Walter C. October 09, 2012 at 10:48 PM
Direct quote from Northjersey.com, 10/16/2008: “Even though the economy is very bad and the stock market is going nuts, I’m taking my chances,” said Mounir Badan, owner of MNB Realty Inc. of Wayne. This guy knew what the situation was when he started this project. Hopefully, the planning board won't cave like they did when they allowed this mess to go forward in the first place.
Dee Duram October 09, 2012 at 11:36 PM
When you can't sell you reduce the price.....that is the reality....hope this guy does not get approval for the rentals...he is such a slime ball...............
Bad Idea October 13, 2012 at 11:50 AM
Really? 8-11K for taxes? No disrespect to Butler but I live in Kinnelon and that's not too far from what I pay for taxes with 1.5 acres and a 2500 sq ft. house. With the school system ranking no.5 in the state, the condo's aren't a very smart buy. Sounds like "great "planning and I have to agree with previous posts, he took the risk, now he should take the consequences-it's probably just a tax write off for him. Now he wants to build a mall on Boonton Ave. in Kinnelon. Let's fill the empty stores in Meadtown and the Pathmark mall before we start building willy nilly. Interesting that, being in the Highlands you can't even build a shed without a fight and he already has approvals? I guess it helps to be BFF with the mayor.
Richard Dean October 13, 2012 at 10:56 PM
Bad Idea, isn't it interesting that Mr Badan now wants to build a commercial / office buildng on Boonton Avenue? As for Meadtown and Kinnelon Mall, maybe they've got empty stores due to the owners not being proactive in maintenance yet very active in raising rents. I would not be surprised to find some of those store operators moving to the new strip mall being built in Butler where the Roserne Motel was starting in the 1930's.
Dee Duram October 14, 2012 at 12:39 PM
Well, I live in a teeny tiny house and pay 6,000.00 per year for taxes......living in Butler is not cheap.....I am pretty sure the houses at the end of High St. are 2500 sq.ft and the taxes are about 8-10,000.00.....I agree....Mr. Badaan made his bed now let him lie in it....I am sure the 1,000 thread count Egyptian sheets lined with 22 carat gold will make it a little more bearable.......
Rayna S October 15, 2012 at 10:35 AM
Mr Badan pulled the same nonsence in Secaucus a couple of years ago. He built luxury townhouses that no one wanted and got the approval to turn them into rentals. It is now basically a welfare hotel. He was quoted in the paper stating "the apartments would be one to two bedrooms for $1000 per month". Where can you get a 2 bedroom for $1000/mo. Good luck finding a one bedroom for that, unless it is "low income housing" . Just something to think about. If this goes through Butler is in trouble.

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