One Westfield Place FAQs

OVERVIEW

On September 20, 2022, HBC | Streetworks Development presented a proposal to the Town of Westfield governing body for redeveloping their Lord & Taylor properties and the two municipal parking lots on the North and South sides of the train station as part of a Iarger effort, in partnership with the Town, to revitalize Westfield’s downtown and ensure it stays vibrant for future generations. Their proposal was guided by the cumulative input from numerous community outreach efforts over the past three years, the recently updated Master Plan Reexamination, as well as Westfield’s top-flight team of redevelopment professionals.


With a commitment to maintaining Westfield’s distinct character, they are proposing a downtown for the future – a downtown that will deliver a vibrant commercial hub for generations to enjoy; resolve long-standing traffic, parking, and congestion challenges; provide engaging spaces for community gathering, art, and events; and result in unprecedented new sources of commercial tax revenue.


Their proposal is designed to celebrate the best of Westfield and reaffirm the Town’s long-standing reputation as one of the premier places to live in the State, anchored by a downtown that serves as a national model for a post-COVID Main Street community – one that prioritizes people over cars, is dedicated to sustainability, walkability, inclusivity, and affordability, and one that meets the needs and desires of all residents and downtown businesses, including those who have been here for generations as well those who have just arrived. 


The following FAQs have been created as a source of information about the proposal for residents, and will continually be updated to address additional questions as they arise. If you have additional questions that you would like to see included, please send them to info@onewestfieldplace.com.

  1. Background/Redevelopment Process

1.    How did the One Westfield Place proposal come to fruition?


In 2018, in light of the shifting retail landscape, the Town Council and administration began proactively addressing the potential closing of  Lord & Taylor in Westfield, the downtown’s largest taxpayer and property owner. Discussions were facilitated with top executives at the parent company, Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC), to ensure there were open lines of communication with the Town about the future of their seven-plus acres of property. 


When Lord & Taylor closed in 2020, it lent an even greater urgency to addressing our downtown challenges and, fortunately, the Town’s relationship with HBC was already established. More importantly, our community had already embarked on a journey to create a long-term vision for Westfield which resulted in a roadmap for future progress, with a specific focus on restoring the health and vibrancy of the downtown. This process, driven by community input, resulted in an updated Master Plan which was adopted in 2019, and now informs how the residents of Westfield want to achieve their shared vision. This updated Master Plan is what has guided Streetworks and the Town’s redevelopment professionals in planning the One Westfield Place project that  is currently being proposed. 


2.    What Council action was taken to further those initial conversations?

At the March 10, 2020, Town Council meeting, the Council took the first official step required under the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law towards designating areas in need of redevelopment by passing resolutions directing the Planning Board to study all eight municipal parking lots, the property that the Rialto building occupies, and – as a result of the Town’s continued conversations with Hudson’s Bay Company – the Lord & Taylor sites. All of these properties ultimately met the statutory criteria to be designated as “areas in need of redevelopment,” which then allowed the Town to take a holistic planning approach in collaboration with HBC to fulfill its Master Plan goals and Smart Growth strategies. 

3.    What is an “area in need of redevelopment,” and why were these areas designated?


The Town Council can delineate an area within a municipality as an "area in need of redevelopment" if the area qualifies under one or more of the eight criteria set forth in the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law, NJ.S.A. 40A:12A-5. A property need not be “blighted” – and often is not – in order to meet these statutory criteria.  

When properties qualify, and then are designated as “an area in need of redevelopment” by a governing body, a redevelopment plan may be drafted and adopted which would include specific and detailed development project standards reflective of community desires for the development of the area. Designation of an area in need of redevelopment may also qualify projects for certain financial incentives only available to properties with that designation.

In Westfield, the Town’s Master Plan suggests the use of redevelopment tools to address underutilization and adverse conditions created by flat surface parking lots, and in particular, the two Town-owned parking lots surrounding Westfield’s north and south side train stations. Rather than forming the heart of downtown, the two train station parcels, which comprise roughly seven acres, function solely as parking lots and contribute little in terms of social, economic, or environmental value.  While the parking they offer is an important resource for commuters and downtown patrons, flat surface lots in this location are an inefficient and obsolescent land use that detracts from the Town’s ability to achieve its broader vision of a vibrant, walkable downtown. This inefficiency was a key component of the Town’s decision to declare the parking lot properties as areas in need of redevelopment in June 2020.


Furthermore, the shift to more remote work post-COVID has only further increased the inefficiency of commuter flat surface parking lots, providing an opportunity to create more efficient commuter parking options while repurposing these properties to deliver broader benefits for the public at large.


4.    Doesn’t an “area in need of redevelopment” have a negative connotation, typically meaning “blighted”?


No. Misperceptions of redevelopment stem from the previous use of the word "blight" to describe "areas in need of redevelopment,” but the criteria has expanded over the past two decades to include economic development, which is the basis for the Westfield properties’ designation. As a result, redevelopment has been used in hundreds of municipalities throughout the State as a tool to drive economic benefits, in communities like:

  • Bridgewater
  • Cranford
  • Montclair 
  • Morristown
  • Princeton
  • South Orange
  • Summit

Redevelopment in these communities and many others has resulted in transformative projects for their residents and businesses. In addition, as described, the owners of properties located in areas in need of redevelopment benefit as well with property values increasing as a result of  their inclusion in a redevelopment area.

5.    What does it mean to designate HBC | Streetworks Development as the redeveloper?  


It means HBC | Streetworks Development has been given the ability to undertake pre-development activities and present to the Town a proposal for development on the properties for which it is designated, and thereafter, and subject to approval by the Town Council, enter into a redevelopment agreement with the Town. In December 2020, HBC | Streetworks Development was designated for the properties they currently own on North Avenue as well as three municipal parking lots. Ultimately, HBC | Streetworks Development decided to include in its proposal only two of the three parking lots for which it was designated.  


6.    Why was HBC | Streetworks Development designated as the developer of the North Avenue and South Avenue train lots in addition to their own L&T properties?


In order to achieve the maximum benefit to Westfield, the Town professionals and administration, in collaboration with HBC | Streetworks Development, concluded that it was best to take a holistic planning approach to enable HBC | Streetworks Development to better deliver on the Town’s Master Plan goals. This approach allows HBC | Streetworks Development to consider the creation of diverse housing products and new office space to drive foot traffic to our downtown businesses, as well as deliver numerous public improvements that include vibrant enhancements to the public spaces at the train station, smarter parking solutions, enhanced mobility options, beautification of the pathways between North and South Avenues, a substantial number of new trees, and improved sidewalks – all of which would not be possible if these sites were not considered collectively.  


This holistic approach allows the incorporation of the Lord & Taylor properties into a larger vision for the Town, enabling a consistent and cohesive streetscape and significant public improvements across the entire project. It also provides the opportunity for the Town to become more economically resilient and environmentally sustainable; to create new public gathering spaces; to promote walking and biking; and to develop stronger and safer connections between its north and south sides. Through this collaborative approach, the Town is pursuing policies that consider cars and parking as a component of downtowns rather than their focal point, focusing instead on making these areas safe, accessible, vibrant and engaging.


Lastly, HBC | Streetworks Development's current low-density proposal for their Lord & Taylor site is only possible because they are able to assess its return on investment over multiple parcels, including the North and South Avenue train station parking lot properties. If HBC | Streetworks Development was only developing its own properties, the Town would have less say in whether the Company tears down the Lord & Taylor building and replaces it with a high density residential project on their properties in order to maximize their return. In keeping with our commitment to preservation and adaptive reuse, the Town and our redevelopment professionals fought hard to ensure the iconic Lord & Taylor building would remain.


7. Does the Town have plans to develop additional municipal parking lots since they have all been designated as areas in need of redevelopment? 


No. The Town has no current plans to develop any of the remaining municipal parking lots.


8.    Why didn’t the Town go out to public bid on the development of the municipal parking lots? Is this a “no bid” deal for Streetworks, and is it legal? 


The New Jersey law on redevelopment and conveyance of municipal property  (NJSA 40A:12A-8(g)) is as follows:

 

The municipality may “lease or convey property or improvements to any other party pursuant to this section, without public bidding and at such prices and upon such terms as it deems reasonable, provided that the lease or conveyance is made in conjunction with a redevelopment plan, notwithstanding the provisions of any law, rule, or regulation to the contrary.”


Further, the Town is not “giving away” Town property to HBC | Streetworks Development. The Town will only consider selling property to HBC | Streetworks Development, which would include only a portion of two municipal lots that are part of their proposed project, if it can be sold at a market price that has been confirmed to be fair and reasonable by an independent appraiser. The Town will retain ownership of a significant portion of the parking lots designated, and those parcels will benefit from substantial public improvements paid for by HBC | Streetworks Development, and informed through on-going input from the public.


The very nature of a redevelopment project is to create a public//private partnership between government and a private developer, one in which the development that occurs not only advances the community’s interests, but also creates a cohesive whole rather than merely piecemeal development (see question 6). HBC | Streetworks Development's seven-plus acre Lord & Taylor site is the single largest property in the downtown, making them both the largest downtown taxpayer and one of the most important stakeholders in its future.  A stand-alone private development on the Lord and Taylor site would be a missed opportunity to address the challenges of connectivity in that area of town with cohesive streetscape and the intrinsically inter-connected plan that HBC | Streetworks Development has proposed.


And very importantly, negotiating with a single redeveloper allows the Town to insist that the redevelopment project puts forth consistently implemented public improvements and amenities for the entire community that would otherwise simply not happen with smaller, piecemeal development or if the Town property were offered through a typical public bidding process. 


By collaborating with HBC | Streetworks Development under the redevelopment laws in New Jersey, Westfield can realize the larger benefits to towns that were envisioned when legislators began enacting them in 1947 and then fully replaced with currently applicable redevelopment laws, adopted in 1992.  Westfield can sell property at a fair market value while also reaping the rewards of the hundreds of millions of dollars in investment that HBC | Streetworks Development has planned as a way to enhance our community.  


9.    Will a Redevelopment Plan govern the specific zoning for the One Westfield Place project to ensure quality of the development, traffic mitigation measures, and other public improvements?


Yes. The Redevelopment Plan will contain specific development standards for this project. Through adoption of a redevelopment plan and the entering into a redeveloper agreement for the project, the Town will maintain much greater regulatory control over the project than would be possible through conventional zoning. Examples include detailed architectural design standards, building material requirements, and setback and height regulations that reflect the unique characteristics of each project site. 


The Redevelopment Plan ensures development that is complementary and supportive for the neighborhood and Town. Also, the Town process requires Planning Board determination that the Redevelopment Plan is consistent with the Master Plan. Traffic mitigation measures, sustainability elements, and specific public improvements will be required by the Redevelopment Plan.


10.    What conditions and terms will the Redeveloper Agreement provide?


A key benefit to the redevelopment process is the level of control that the Town can exercise over the entire process. This control is evidenced in two key documents: the redevelopment plan and the redeveloper agreement. The redevelopment plan establishes the design detail and project requirements of the project. The redeveloper agreement contains the binding terms and conditions of the redevelopment project from project financing, property acquisition, and construction, to post-construction obligations. It is expected that the redevelopment agreement’s terms and conditions will include, among many other provisions:

 

  • Setting the scope and design details of the redevelopment and the governmental approvals that the Redeveloper is obligated to obtain.

  • Establishing the terms under which the Town would convey a portion of its parking lots, including, but not limited to, the Redeveloper’s demonstration to the Town’s satisfaction that the price is fair and reasonable, and that the Redeveloper has met all necessary financial, construction, and planning criteria set forth in the agreement, as well as provisions allowing for the properties to revert to Town ownership upon any default.

  • Setting the construction schedule and sequencing plan for all public and private improvements included in the project.

  • Providing the Town with protections during construction and establishing standards and default remedies for construction staging, parking, fencing, project safety, neighborhood protection, and noise issues.

  • Requiring the Redeveloper’s compliance with affordable housing obligations, green building standards, and other legal requirements.

  • Establishing the terms for post-construction agreements regarding the interaction between the private development and public improvements, including the terms of any parking license agreements or easements between the properties.

  • Establishing the financial terms surrounding funding of the public improvements for the financial benefit and protection of the Town.

  • Limiting assignments of the project from the Redeveloper to entities other than those approved by the Town.

  • Setting forth remedies to the Town in the event of a default under the agreement by the Redeveloper.


11.    What is the forthcoming public municipal approval process?


The initial phase is currently underway and includes HBC | Streetworks Development's presentation to the public at the Preview Center, seeking and gathering public input, and then sharing outcomes with the Town government. Subsequently, there are numerous steps that must be taken before this project would move forward, beginning in early 2023, each including opportunities for public comment, as follows:


 1)    Town Council votes to introduce Redevelopment Plan ordinance

2)    Planning Board reviews Redevelopment Plan for consistency with the Town Master Plan

3)    Town Council holds public hearing and vote to adopt Redevelopment Plan ordinance  

4)    Town Council votes on resolution authorizing Redevelopment Agreement

5)    Town Council votes to introduce ordinance authorizing Financial Agreement/PILOT

6)    Town Council holds public hearing and vote on adoption of ordinance authorizing Financial Agreement/PILOT

7)    Town Council introduces ordinance authorizing Redevelopment Area Bonds for certain Public Improvements

8)    Town Council holds public hearing and vote on adoption of ordinance authorizing Redevelopment Area Bonds for certain Public Improvements

9)    Application for Site Plan Approval made to the Town Planning Board by the Redeveloper  

10)    Planning Board adopts Resolution approving Site Plan application


You can find more information about the redevelopment tools and process here.


  1. ONE WESTFIELD PLACE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
  1. PARKING
  1. TRAFFIC
  1. FINANCIAL OVERVIEW
  1. PUBLIC BENEFITS
  1. SUSTAINABILITY