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Somerville apartment building celebrates grand opening

Posted On 11/3/2017

Article Published HERE

SOMERVILLE – Robert Weiss believes in Somerville.

“We’re pretty excited,” said Weiss, whose company, Weiss Properties, this week celebrated the grand opening of The Cobalt apartments on Veterans Memorial Drive  and will be starting construction on The Davenport, a 60-unit apartment building on Davenport Street, early in 2018.

And Somerville appreciates the faith that Weiss has shown in the county seat, Mayor Brian Gallagher said.

“You’ve taken a piece of property that has been fallow for a number of years and turned it into a destination,” Gallagher said.

READ: Somerville riding the wave of redevelopment

READ: Somerville builder gets $23 million loan for apartments

READ: Somerville’s Main Street adding more apartments, gym

The property, which backs to NJ Transit’s Raritan Valley Line and is two blocks from the train station, was once a junkyard and was once eyed as home to the borough’s emergency services.

Gallagher said Weiss’ investment is a vote of confidence in Somerville’s future and the revival of its downtown.

“The private sector will go where there is a return,” Gallagher said. “They’re investing in the entire community.”

Gallagher said Weiss was the first developer to visit him when he first took office 14 years ago and immediately he knew they would be working together.

“We’re not done yet,” Gallagher said.

Weiss returned the compliment to Gallagher, saying. “He has a total passion for this town.”

The 117-unit Cobalt is 50 percent leased, Weiss said. All but one of the studio apartments have been rented and there are 32 one-bedroom apartments remaining, said Magaly Zuniga, the property manager.

Rent for the studios is $1,650 per month, one-bedrooms start at $1,825 and two-bedrooms are $2,400.

Many of the new tenants, Zuniga said, are young professionals and out-of-state residents relocating to Central Jersey for jobs.

That’s a description fitting 26-year-old Tom Santangelo and his fiancee, Gina Cordell, 25.

Santangelo came to Somerville from Stony Brook, Long Island, and commutes by train to Manhattan for his job as an environmental consultant. Cordell got a job as a music teacher at Branchburg Central Middle School and moved here from northern Virginia.

“We decided to split the difference,” Santangelo said.

“It’s really nice,” Cordell said. “It’s a great place.”

Santangelo said he enjoys living in Somerville, especially the downtown events and the Division Street pedestrian plaza.

The Cobalt features a fitness center, a club room with a pool table and kitchen, a courtyard lounge, a srmartphone security system and an attached parking deck. Each apartment has a washer and dryer, built-in microwave, walk-in closets and granite countertops.

Staff Writer Mike Deak: 908-243-6607;

Somerville Awarded $670,000 for Veterans Memorial Drive East Traffic Improvements –

Posted On 4/13/2017

Article Published HERE

TRENTON, NJ – Somerset County has been awarded a $670,000 grant through the federal Safe Routes to School program to fund a traffic safety improvement project in Somerville on Veterans Memorial Drive East.

The New Jersey Department of Transportation, in partnership with the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority administers the grant program; a total of nearly $4.1 million was awarded to 11 projects in eight New Jersey counties through the SRTS program.

Somerville had applied for the grant last year.

“We’ve made a commitment to improve pedestrian safety borough-wide, and this is part of that commitment,” said Mayor Brian Gallagher.

The project will extend from South Bridge Street east towards the East Main Street intersection. Planned improvements include replacement of the traffic light at the intersection of Hamilton Street; the new signal will include left-turn arrows in keeping with the three-lane road section planned for the entire length of Veterans Memorial Drive East.

New sidewalks and handicap ramps will be constructed in compliance with the American Disabilities Act regulations.

Veterans Memorial Drive East is part of the “walking school bus route” used by students living around Southside Avenue and the Lauren Gardens apartments that attend Van Derveer School and the Middle School. More students may come from the newly constructed Cobalt Apartments and a second apartment development planned for Veterans Memorial Drive East.

Gallagher expects it will be several months before specifications for the project are ready to be put out for bid.

“We’ll see how far the money takes us,” Gallagher said.

A resolution approved by the Borough Council in conjunction with the grant application reads:

“The project will help to continue and improve the promotion and encouragement of pedestrian and bicycle access and safety for the school children, residents and commercial district.”

A second pedestrian safety improvement project began this week on Veterans Memorial Drive West. The six-week project includes installation of raised pedestrian center medians, crosswalk enhancements and safety signals between South Bridge Street and Mountain Avenue.

The SRTS program is a federally funded reimbursement program that was established in 2005 to increase pedestrian safety awareness among motorists and schoolchildren.

“Safety is a key component of New Jersey’s transportation network, including pedestrian and bicycling accommodations,” NJDOT Commissioner Richard T. Hammer said. “These grants will help our local communities improve sidewalks and crosswalks so children may safely walk or bike to school.”












The remaining 10 grants in the NJTPA region, totaling $3.409 million, will be distributed as follows:

Bergen County

·       Ridgewood Safe Routes to School in Ridgewood Village for $400,000

·       Bike and Pedestrian Safety Infrastructure Upgrades in Rutherford for $368,000

Hunterdon County

·       Safe Routes to School Harrison Street and Second Street in Frenchtown for $472,000

Middlesex County

·       Infrastructure and Intersection Improvements and ADA Compliance in Highland Park for $216,000

Morris County

·       Shunpike Road Sidewalk – Falmouth Road to Pine Street in Chatham for $374,000

·       Pedestrian/Bike Safety Improvements in Netcong for $243,000

Ocean County

·       Clayton Avenue Sidewalk Construction in Bay Head for $190,000

Union County

·       Various Sidewalk Improvements in New Providence for $462,000

·       Plainfield Safe Routes to School Improvements in Plainfield for $304,000

Warren County

·       Safe Routes to School Improvements in Lopatcong for $380,000

The Safe Routes to School program was created to encourage children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bike to school.

The goal is to make bicycling and walking to school a safer and more appealing transportation alternative, thereby encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle from an early age; and to implement projects that will improve safety, and reduce traffic, fuel consumption and air pollution in the vicinity of schools, Hammer added.

Somerville Planning Board Approves Plans for 5-Story Apartment Building on Davenport Street –

Posted On 7/20/2016

Article published HERE

SOMERVILLE, NJ – The Borough Planning Board approved plans Tuesday night for a five-story apartment building that will be built on the present site of the one-story building where the Social Security office is now located on Davenport Street.

Developer Robert Weiss scaled back his original proposal which had met with opposition from merchants and residents concerned that the new building’s tenants would expropriate what limited parking space there is in the lot behind stores on West Main Street and adjacent to the Social Security building on Hunterdon Street.

The revised plan for “The Davenport” reduces the number of apartments while increasing the number of parking spaces by adding a second sub-level beneath the building to accommodate cars.

The original plan called for 72 residential units – 12 studio apartments, 48 one-bedroom apartments and 12 two-bedroom apartments.

The revised plan calls for 60 residential units. The studio apartments were eliminated so that the new configuration features 40 one-bedroom apartments and 20 two-bedroom apartments.

There will be 68 parking spaces – 46 on the upper level, or ground floor, and 22 spaces on the sub-level. To satisfy the borough’s ordinance on occupancy and parking, which requires 1.2 spaces per rental unit, Weiss will need to purchase four or five parking permits from the borough.

Architect David Minno of Minno & Wasko Architects & Planners, Lambertville, described The Davenport as an “attractive, in-town building.”


Weiss expects the building will attract the so-called Millenials, younger tenants looking for a pleasant place to live with enclosed parking, in a building designed to not look like a townhouse. He described The Davenport as “softened elegance, loaded with a lot of glass.”

A courtyard will be in the center of the building, with vehicular access to the ground floor and sublevel parking through two entrances.

There was some criticism of the building during the public portion of the meeting.

Longtime resident Herbert Hall said the design of the building was “not in keeping with historic Somerville,” while Main Street resident David Conrad suggested the architecture and style of the building was a “mismatch” with the neighborhood.

Borough Councilwoman Jane Kobuta, who is a Planning Board member, suggested a brick façade “Georgetown” look, characteristic of that upscale Virginia suburb of Washington.

Weiss said he expects to begin demolition of the existing structure by spring next year after the Social Security office relocates.

Weiss must now secure a series of building, environmental and other permits and complete preliminary engineering studies before work can begin.


Somerville may see another apartment building – MYCENTRAL JERSEY.COM

Posted On 11/18/2015

Article published HERE

SOMERVILLE – Another apartment building may be coming to the borough.

Robert Weiss, of Weiss Properties, unveiled his proposal at Monday’s Borough Council meeting to build a 72-unit apartment building on Davenport Street on the property that now houses offices, including the Social Security Administration.

At the end of his presentation, the council unanimously voted to designate Weiss as the redeveloper of the property that he originally redeveloped with the offices.

“I think it’s a beautiful building,” Mayor Brian Gallagher said.

Weiss, who is building The Cobalt apartment complex on Veterans Memorial Drive, told the council that he has confidence in Somerville’s future.
Somerville expanding Main Street revitalization

“We’re very fortunate we are able to do this in a town like yours,” he said. “A lot of people are gravitating to Somerville.”

Weiss said the proposed five-story apartment building, The Davenport, would be mostly one-bedroom and studio apartments, with some two-bedroom apartments.

“We will try to have something for everybody,” he said, adding that the building will be “very elegant.”

On the ground floor will be a gated parking garage with 79 spaces that will have an entrance and exit on Hunterdon Street, Weiss said.

Also on the ground floor, within view of pedestrians on Davenport Street, will be a gym for residents and a meeting room.
Somerville builder gets $23 million loan for apartments

The apartments will be grouped around a second floor courtyard that will be open to all residents, Weiss said.

Weiss said construction, once all approvals are given by the borough, could begin in 2017.

The Social Security office lease expires at the end of 2016. Weiss said he does not know where the office would move.

Weiss said the market for small office space is disappearing

One of the selling points for The Davenport, Weiss said, will be its proximity to the train station and Main Street businesses. He said that residents of downtown buildings are known as “walking wallets.”
New development is vote of confidence in Somerville

“Why drive to downtown, when I can live in it,” he said.

Weiss’ proposal is the latest in a wave of apartment complexes proposed for Somerville. Plans have been submitted for a mixed use building at the corner of East Main Street and Warren Street on the former Somerville Aluminum site and at the east end of the borough on the former Baker & Taylor Site and on James Street.

In addition, the borough is waiting for approval from the state Department of Transportation for a transit village development around the train station.

Staff Writer Mike Deak: 908-243-6607;

Somerville builder gets $23 million loan for apartments – MYCENTRAL JERSEY.COM

Posted On 11/19/2014

Article published HERE

The developer of a 117-unit apartment building on Veterans Memorial Drive has received a $23.6 million loan for the project. one of several expected to bring new hundreds, if not thousands, of new residents into the Somerset County seat.

Weiss Properties, headquartered in New Brunswick, received the loan from Amboy Bank, based in Old Bridge, for The Cobalt, where site work began earlier this fall.

The site, a vacant lot backed by NJ Transit’s Raritan Valley Line, was once the site of an auto junkyard. In the late 1990s, it was seen as the possible site for a Somerville municipal complex.

“We are excited to be an integral part of Somerville’s growing redevelopment plans” said Robert Weiss, president of Weiss Properties. “The residents of The Cobalt will be able to walk to the New Jersey transit station, Main Street restaurants and the Division Street pedestrian mall.”

The four-story Cobalt Apartments, approved in 2013 by the Planning Board, will have 13 studio apartments (500 to 524 square feet each), 68 one-bedroom apartments (736 to 822 square feet) and 36 two-bedroom apartments (1,070 to 1,087 square feet). All of the units, even the studios, will have washers and dryers. At the rear of the property and not seen from the street will be a parking deck, Weiss has said.

Weiss, who did not disclose rents for the project, said earlier this year that he hopes the project to be completed in 2015.”Somerville’s future is very bright,” Weiss said earlier this year. “It can only get better.”

The Cobalt is part of burgeoning transit-oriented development in Somerville. The apartment complex will be two blocks from the Somerville station of NJ Transit’s Raritan Valley Line.

Next to The Cobalt’s site, DGM Management, which already owns several properties in downtown Somerville, has received conceptual approval for Station House, a 93-unit apartment complex, at 44 Veterans Memorial Drive. The buildings in the site, which once housed an auto body shop and a weekly newspaper publisher, have been demolished. DGM Management has not filed a formal application to develop the property.

In September, NJ Transit, owner of the 35 acres next to the train station, signed a memorandum of understanding with Lakewood-based Somerset Developers for an ambitious project that could eventually result in 675 housing units being built, an investment that Somerville officials could add $300 million to $500 million to the county seat’s property tax base.

Earlier this year, Edgewood Properties opened The Edge at Main, an apartment building on the former site of the Downtown Somerville Mall, a block from the train station.

Weiss Properties, which has developed and managed properties throughout New Jersey for more than two decades, has recently been named the redeveloper of a tract in Willingboro.

“Amboy has been financing commercial real estate for over 125 years and this $23.6 million construction permanent loan represents Amboy’s commitment to financing the redevelopment of New Jersey’s communities,” said Domenick Margiotta, senior vice president and chief lending officer at Amboy Bank.

Staff Writer Mike Deak: 908-243-6607;

Eastern Union Brokers $46M Revolving Construction Facility For NJ Townhomes – commercial

Posted On 5/1/2014

Article published HERE

New Jersey-based residential developer Weiss Properties received a $46.6 million revolving construction loan for The Avery, a townhome community located at 10 Lincoln Square in Willingboro, N.J., Mortgage Observer has exclusively learned.

Shaya Ackerman of Eastern Union Fundingbrokered the $40 million construction construction facility, which features a $6.6 million earn-out, from Investors Bank, confirmed Joseph Orefice, head of commercial real estate lending at the bank. 

Construction will span four phases, and the loan structure allows construction funds to automatically convert to a full permanent loan at the end of each phase. The balance automatically goes into the permanent loan but the conversion is pre-approved for both seven-year and ten-year options. The facility overall has a 30-year term, Mr. Ackerman said.

“It’s pretty much eight loans packaged into one,” Mr. Ackerman said. “For a developer, this is pretty much a dream,” he added, because he or she locks in their interest rate for the long term.

The first phase has an interest rate of 4.5 percent, with the permanent loan portion set at 3.5 percent.

When complete, the development will include 450 units. The homes feature wood plank-style flooring, granite countertops and balconies, and will begin hitting the market this summer, according to the property’s website.

“From the financing end it was double play between Shaya’s structuring abilities and Eastern Union’s great relationship with Investors Bank,” said Eastern Union president Ira Zlotowitz in a statement from Eastern.

“This deal was the natural extension of the initial debt, and with Ackerman’s unique structure we wrapped the remainder of the project into one facility which addresses both construction and permanent financing,” Robert Weiss, the president of Weiss Properties, said in the statement, calling the deal “a custom suit [tailored] on Madison Avenue.”


Apartment boom fueling Somerville’s revival

Posted On 2/3/2014

Not long ago, you could drive on Main Street in the evening and not see anyone.

Now, Mayor Brian Gallagher said, in the evenings you see people on the street and you can’t find a parking space.

“That’s the way it should be,” Gallagher said. …

Written by
Mike Deak | @MikeDeakMyCJ