A large Bergen-Lafayette parcel with a troubled history has officially changed hands, but a recent legal action from the state has raised a fresh round of questions about the property’s future.
At almost 2.2 acres, 125 Monitor Street is one of the more prominent structures dotting the landscape near Liberty State Park. The stretch is home to an industrial building that has fallen into disrepair under the watch of several different parties, including previous owner Josef Brikman.
Legal problems have plagued the property and even delayed last year’s sale of the parcel. Jersey Digs broke the news about a lawsuit last June that claimed Brikman was engaging in a conspiracy to deflate the parcel’s value so he could sell it to a straw buyer for a below-market price. A judge ended up allowing the sale to move forward.
An entity simply called 125 Monitor Street JC LLC now owns the property after purchasing it from Brikman for $5.5 million. The company is registered out of the Clifton offices of Manage NJ, a property management group. NJParcels has the address of Teaneck-based law firm Rubin & Dombeck listed under owner information.
Plans at 125 Monitor Street are not clear, but New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) raised new issues in a lawsuit filed on August 27. The case claims that the new owners have not followed through on an Administrative Consent Order (ACO) they agreed on when buying the land, which requires them to remediate hazardous substances at the property.
According to the complaint, 125 Monitor Street has potentially dangerous materials present in its soil that include arsenic, copper, lead, petroleum hydrocarbons, tetrachloroethene (PCE), and trichloroethene (TCE). The land’s groundwater also allegedly contains hazardous substances like dichloroethylene, PCE, TCE, xylenes, and vinyl chloride.
The DEP’s filing claims that groundwater contamination at 125 Monitor Street may be affecting nearby properties by the migration of volatile chemicals into the overlying buildings. The case claims that “the levels of hazardous substances present in the groundwater are high enough to potentially cause indoor air concerns at and near the property since the hazardous substances can evaporate through soil and the resulting vapor can intrude into human-occupied spaces.”
The suit says that the new owners have not submitted several reports to the DEP that are required under the ACO and have failed to establish any remediation funding source. The company is subject to a civil penalty of up to $50,000 per day for violating the ACO and the lawsuit is seeking to compel them into submitting several reports, establishing a funding source for the cleanup, applying for a soil remedial action permit, conducting a vapor intrusion investigation, and complying with all future deadlines.
The latest developments are 125 Monitor Street continue the property’s problematic record. The land spent parts of the last decade in foreclosure when it was owned by Lieb and Aron Purtez, who racked up approximately 20 maintenance violations at the property when they owned it. Little changed after Brikman took over ownership in early 2018, as a double stabbing took place at the building and 11 more citations ranging from high weeds to excessive refuse were issued against the parcel.
The city at one point was billing Brikman $5,000 a day for yard work they were forced to undertake at the property and per our exclusive investigation from last year, Brikman was arrested by Jersey City Police Department Scofflaw Warrants Unit last May after they executed bench warrants over his failure to appear for court proceedings regarding the citations.
Time will tell if new ownership turns things around at the vacant property, which has become an attractive development site. Under current zoning, 180 apartments can be developed at 125 Monitor Street as of right and the neighborhood around the property is booming with new construction.