Haddonfield Names Woodmont Properties Conditional Redeveloper for Bancroft Site


The Fairfield, New Jersey-based developer meets with the public June 17 to review concepts for the 8.2-acre property.

By Matt Skoufalos | May 14, 2024

Woodmont Properties Bancroft RFP Building Massing. Credit: NJPEN.

Nine months after unsealing bids from nine entities for the right to redevelop the 8.2-acre former Bancroft parcel in downtown Haddonfield, the borough government has selected its partner for the process.

On Monday, Haddonfield commissioners voted 2-1 to enter into a conditional redevelopment agreement with Woodmont Properties, LLC of Fairfield.

The motion was introduced by Mayor Colleen Bianco Bezich and seconded by Commissioner Kevin Roche, with Commissioner Frank Troy the lone dissenter.

Troy said after the meeting that he withheld his support for the Woodmont proposal because he wanted the project to create housing for sale rather than for lease.

“Most of the feedback that I’ve received, I would prefer it to be one of the other solutions,” the commissioner said. “It’s not a bad solution. Going forward, I’ll be supportive, and we’ll find a way to get it done.”

Bianco Bezich, who would have preferred that the parcel be preserved as open space, said she was most convinced that Woodmont represented “the best team to be a partner in getting this done.”

“For me, this is a significant compromise,” the mayor said. “I didn’t want any residential development there at all.”

She favored the Woodmont proposal because it features “more inclusive housing” and a sizable portion of greenspace that can become a community asset.

“It’s a gateway and it can’t be stagnant,” Bianco Bezich said. “This is all about vision, this is about partnership, and this is about moving forward so this does not languish for another decade.”

Roche threw his support behind the Woodmont proposal because it offers additional housing types — namely, rentals with high-end amenities — for which there is a demand in Haddonfield.

The commissioner spoke about the influx of private equity capital tilting the single-family home market in the borough as “so there’s not a lot of socioeconomic diversity.

From left: Haddonfield Commissioners Frank Troy, Colleen Bianco Bezich, Kevin Roche. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

“I think this is a great way for professionals with still higher [housing] price points to get in,” Roche said.

“I didn’t like the idea of a PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) for seven-figure townhomes.”

Roche also said he felt like the Woodmont proposal tracked closest with the terms of the request for proposals (RFP) that Haddonfield issued for the site, “done in a way that didn’t make it feel like it was high-rise and high-density.”

Woodmont Executive Vice-President and General Counsel Stephen Santola said his firm is excited for the opportunity to work on the project since the bids were submitted.

“Haddonfield is one of the premier communities in all of New Jersey,” Santola said. “We felt like luxury infill apartment rental homes is what the community could really benefit from.”

The Woodmont proposal would create 120 total apartments; a mix of one-, two-, and three-bedroom units, including 18 affordable units. The developer plans to purchase seven acres of the property for $5.85 million, and could construct the project on a 24-month timeline. It is also likely to seek a PILOT to help finance construction.

How those units would be laid out onsite will be influenced by public participation, Santola said, but one of its objectives involves concentrating the building massing to preserve more greenspace, both in establishing a buffer to the waterway, and preserving the Kings Highway treeline.

“It makes it nicer when you pull into a community and there’s landscaping, grass, and trees,” he said. “We’re trying to preserve a nice viewscape as you come into town.”

The concept Woodmont described in its RFP were three-and-a-half-story buildings with integrated and detached parking garages. Santola said the firm is also crafting concepts with two four-story buildings, and two-story townhome styles ahead of public charrettes for the site.

“One of the things we like to do is try and get some feedback from the community, and not just build something that worked in Dallas, or Virginia, or wherever else,” he said. “There’s some specific architecture in town that we want to incorporate into our redevelopment.”

Demolition of outbuildings at the former Bancroft property in Haddonfield in 2022. Credit: Matt Skoufalos.

The developer also prides itself on green construction practices, not only in terms of building materials, but infrastructure and recycling demolition materials.

Santola said the roof and parking lot will both be wired with electrical conduits to support solar energy generation and electric vehicle charging capacity, respectively.

Beyond its existing resume and qualifications, Woodmont has “a long history of being able to make progress on sites that have been stuck in the mud,” Santola said, listing off its redevelopment work in New Jersey communities like Metuchen, South Amboy, or Cranford.

“We’ve been able to overcome historical issues, and build some consensus, and get a redevelopment project underway,” he said. “This one seemed like another excellent opportunity for us to see if we can make it work.”

Santola said he believes Haddonfield is “frankly starving” for luxury rental apartments “with all of the amenities that you would love to have in a brand-new home,” and that the Bancroft parcel represents “a great location” upon which to create them.

For now, the borough and developer enter into a due diligence phase, after which a plan for the site will be presented to the local land use and historic boards.

The first opportunity for public input into the plan will come June 17, when Woodmont visits Haddonfield for a community visioning session.

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