RED BANK: HOSPITAL EYES MORE REAL ESTATE

rb 91 & 95 e front 041515Riverciew has deals to buy 91 East Front Street, at left above, and 95 East Front, center. It already owns 103 East Front, seen at far right. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

taxesRiverview Medical Center is planning to increase its holdings of Red Bank real estate, redbankgreen has learned.

The expected acquisition by the hospital of two East Front street buildings could lead to growth in the roster of untaxed property in a borough where officials have complained the burden is unfairly falling on homeowners and other property owners.

Because of that possibility, Mayor Pasquale Menna said the deal means borough and hospital officials need to talk.

According to notice-of-settlement filings with the Monmouth County Clerk, the hospital, owned by Meridian Health, intends to purchase the 60-year-old office building at 91 East Front Street and a Victorian-era house that contains five apartments at 95 East Front. The sale prices were not included in the filings.

The two sites abut one another, and are bookended on the west side by the main hospital campus and on the east by 103 East Front Street, a vacant office building already owned by Meridian Health, Riverview’s parent. All front on the Navesink River.

redbankgreen could not learn what longterm plans Riverview has for the properties. A hospital spokeswoman said she was unaware of the pending deal. Grace Greenberg, a Fair Haven resident who is the seller in the transaction, did not respond to a request for comment.

An application for a certificate of occupancy filed with the borough says that Riverview “has promised to honor all leases” in effect at the two properties.

The office building is assessed at $966,500 and produced $18,500 in taxes for the borough last year. The apartment building is assessed at $1.13 million and generated $21,600 in taxes.

The vacant building at 103 East Front is valued at $4.19 million. It is not taxed.

As a charitable entity, Riverview has no legal obligation to pay property taxes. But under a 2008 Payment in Lieu of Taxes, or PILOT, agreement, Riverview paid the borough $172,591 last year on holdings assessed at $23 million, records show.

The annual payment rises by the change in the overall tax rate or three percent, whichever is less, under the terms of the PILOT.

That sum excludes the taxes on the vacant former site of the Worden-Hoidal Funeral Home at 60 East Front Street, across the street from the hospital, which Meridian bought for $2.3 million in 2008. Meridian paid $41,372 in taxes on that site last year, borough records show.

Menna told redbankgreen on Tuesday that he was aware the Greenberg deal was in the works, and hopes to meet with hospital officials once the transaction is concluded to revisit the terms of the PILOT.

“There has to be a renegotiation with respect to these two properties,” he said.

Town officials have said in the past that Red Bank’s share of tax-exempt properties equals 16 percent of the total assessed value, a proportion that vastly exceeds those of nearby towns and reflects the borough’s role as a provider of regional health and cultural services.

Menna has pressed state legislators to empower the town to require nonprofits to enter into PILOT agreements when they expand their property holdings.