Decision on Burlington Coat Factory office expected on June 5

The Florence Township Council initialized an ordinance to enter into a financial agreement with Burlington Coat Factory at a recent meeting.

A first hearing and public comment session on the ordinance was held at a township council meeting on May 15, when Florence Township officials discussed the reasons for the ordinance.

A second public hearing, as well as a decision from the council to adopt or deny the ordinance, is anticipated to come at a meeting on June 5.

At the May 15 meeting, Florence Township Administrator Richard Brook explained that the proposed ordinance would make a financial adjustment in the municipality’s agreement with the applicant in regards to the taxes being paid on the property.

After the applicant had first built its headquarter for the Burlington Coat Factory stores in the township in 2014, the company entered into a “Phase II Expansion” plan to construct a second office building last year.

The Florence Township Planning Board passed a resolution to approve Burlington Coat Factory on March 26 for preliminary and final major site plan to construct additional corporate offices, parking and an interconnection between Florence Township and Burlington Township along Route 130.

Erin Szulewski, along with other representatives who were present on behalf of Burlington Coat Factory at a planning board meeting in January, explained that the subject property is part of a “redevelopment plan.”

With Szulewski’s testimony, along with the applicant’s engineer, Robert Stout of Stout & Caldwell, Stout explained at a February meeting that as the company has grown, the applicant’s needs have changed as well. He said the applicant decided that instead of building out forward, it wanted to build toward the Burlington Township side to create more of a complex as opposed to an individual stand-alone building.

The proposed 217,000-square-foot addition is planned to be a free-standing building with an inner connection that connects this as one big facility. An inner connection has also been planned from Florence Township to Burlington Township to have a more cohesive site.

Stout said that the applicant proposed 2,000 parking spaces on this site as well since the applicant is doubling the size of office space to give them more room to grow, if needed.

Construction of the multi-story office annex building adjacent to its existing corporate headquarters is anticipated to be approximately 218,000-square-feet and included improvements for rearranged parking spaces, modified stormwater management facilities, and lighting on the site.

The proposed facility is located in a highway commercial zone and is the site of the existing Burlington Stores corporate headquarters building.

At the May 15 council meeting, Brook said that the financial agreement in regards to the introduced ordinance proposed a financial initiative with the applicant given their significant costs for building at the site.

“[Burlington Coat Factory] approached the township with an interest on building a second office building well in excess of 200,000-square-feet, would add approximately 700 to 800 employees and would ultimately be connected to their current building,” Brook said.  “One of the things the township did was work with them on a financial incentive to continue to pay fully in taxes over a period of time late into the agreement, but it does make one adjustment with respect to the taxes that are paid on the building.

“It should be noted that their fees are extensive. For example, their affordable housing fees are probably going to exceed $500,000, so it’s very difficult in this state when it comes to building projects of this magnitude – to have them come to your community,” Brook reoorted.

Brook also declared that the township felt Burlington Coat Factory is an established, financially strong company and have been a worthy commercial partner for Florence Township.