Thursday, June 17, 2010

Club land in Hamilton eyed for pricey housing development (06/17/10)

Link to original story here.

Not all stories are good. Personally, one of my biggest gripes about this piece is the writer does not even once bother to ask anyone contacted for the story if land preservation organizations had been contacted about purchasing the land instead of Sharbell, which already has several half-occupied developments collecting dust in Hamilton. It feels like lazy journalism; the AP is even cited as a contributor. Was anyone even interviewed by The Times? While in this current economic climate, it doesn't seem likely this "pricey housing development" would even go up anytime soon, that the Italian American's Sports Club would rather see its property's 90-year-old history turn into a sea of starter castles screams of ignorance and/or indifference.

Hamilton, in Mercer County, is already home to several new developments, many built within the last 10 years. Who thinks another one is a good idea?

Club land in Hamilton eyed for pricey housing development

By Erin Duffy
HAMILTON — The Italian American Sportsmen’s Club has inked a deal to sell more than 30 acres of land to Sharbell Development Corp. for a residential development that could include as many as 50 homes, priced to sell at around $400,000 each.
The IASC, a Kuser Road constant since the 1920s, will retain approximately six acres carved out around its facilities, which include a clubhouse, health club and pool area, according to Tom Troy, the senior vice president of Robbinsville-based Sharbell. 
“We should be good neighbors for one another,” said Troy.
Though club President Frank Bocchini said the deal hasn’t been completely finalized, Troy said an agreement of sale has been signed for roughly 32 acres of the club’s land. 
Troy declined to disclose the financial terms of the deal.
If the deal goes through and Sharbell actually moves ahead with the project, it could be a rarity in the current economy.
“The economy is growing and the housing market is still in recession,” said Eugenio Aleman, senior economist with Wells Fargo Securities, following a report Wednesday of declining housing construction in May.
Overall, new home and apartment construction fell 10 percent in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 593,000, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. April’s figure was revised downward to 659,000.
Applications for new building permits — a sign of future activity — sank 5.9 percent to an annual rate of 574,000. That was the lowest level in a year.
Builders are scaling back now that tax credits of up to $8,000 have expired. The biggest evidence of that trend: the number of new single-family homes tumbled 17 percent, the largest monthly drop since January 1991.
But some builders see opportunity in the down market. Andrew Zuckerman, CEO of Zuckerman Homes in Coconut Creek, Fla., said his company is purchasing land and plans to develop it as early as winter.
“We think now is a good time to buy,” Zuckerman said. “We think the market is slowly stabilizing.”
The rate of home building is still up about 41 percent from the bottom in April 2009. But it’s down 70 percent from the decade’s peak in January 2006.
The Kuser Road club lies behind The Stone Terrace catering and banquet hall, which replaced La Villa Restaurant, and down the road from Veterans Park.
Sharbell plans to use its newly acquired land, which lies to the south and west of the Sportsmen’s Club, to develop single-family homes on 10,000-square-foot lots.
Troy said the company estimates it can build somewhere around 50 homes valued at roughly $400,000 each on the acreage.
The company will be preparing its applications within the next few months, and hopes to appear before the township’s planning board by fall, he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact Erin Duffy at or (609) 989-5723

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