Today, the property is falling apart and residents are losing patience, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported Thursday.READ MORE: 15-Year-Old Fatally Stabbed In Brooklyn, Police Questioning Person Of Interest
Was it a long-term investment or a waste of taxpayer money?
Chopper 2 shows a partial roof collapse at the building known for many years as Ciccolini’s, a former furniture and appliance store on Franklin Avenue.
The mayor said a storm on Tuesday caused the collapse. Windows were shattered, too.
“It really needs to be knocked down,” said Janet DePalma, a Nutley resident.
“God forbid somebody was walking along the street and it caved in,” said Denise Sallette. “That’s a big time lawsuit for this town.”
The town paid $3.4 million for the property in 2016. Town officials said it’s because they didn’t want a developer building apartments there, and they needed to preserve parking.
We asked the mayor at the time why the town spent money without a vision:
“It’s not that, you know, we know what we’re going to do with it. We just don’t have the specific plan at this point,” said Mayor Joseph Scarpelli.
Three years later, there’s still no plan.
In 2020, a contractor documented the deterioration inside.
“The only change I’ve seen is they decided that they would move the farmers market here to kind of save face,” said resident Chris Cullari.
They’ve painted parking spaces, to go along with paid meters, but neighboring businesses say no one uses it.
Resident Neil Henning said when he asks the town what it’s plan was, he’s told: “We just hired to do a study, we got a new study.”READ MORE: Ahead Of Father's Day, Mets Host Families Who Lost Loved Ones On 9/11: 'It Opens Up The Wounds'
Records show, in recent years, the town has spent more than $100,000 hiring consultants for things like architectural reviews and planning services.
“It’s just a money pit, ” said Cullari.
The current mayor, Mauro Tucci, said something “spectacular,” that’s a destination adding activity to the town, will go there.
“The value was in the land,” Tucci said.
“What’s stopping you from knocking it down tomorrow?” Rozner asked the mayor.
“Right now, the insurance people,” he said.
Tucci said they’ve now asked developers to submit proposals.
“So how come the town didn’t put out the request for interest back in 2017?” Rozner asked.
“Because, quite frankly, we weren’t sure as to what we were going to do,” Tucci said.
Former New Jersey Assemblyman John Wisniewski said this is unusual for a municipality.
“Municipalities aren’t generally in the business of investing in real estate. That effectively took it off the tax roll,” Wisniewski said.
The mayor said, at one point, the town may have needed it to build affordable housing that is required by the state.
“Anything worth having is usually worth waiting for,” he said.
The mayor added that by the end of the year, the town will know exactly what everyone’s been waiting for.
He believes the property may be worth 30% more than what the town paid for it.MORE NEWS: Claremont Residents Say Overflowing Garbage Is Leading To Major Rat Problem In Community
The state agency that oversees the ethics of municipal spending said it could not comment because it did not know all the facts of the situation.