$26 million bond will fund environmental improvements

PEAPACK-GLADSTONE — The developer of the Natirar estate will be the first in New Jersey to benefit from a government-guaranteed bond to make green improvements to the estate’s historic buildings that once served as the residence of the King of Morocco.

The $26 million bond, the first under the state’s new Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) program in agreement with the Somerset County Improvement Authority, will fund upgrades to the Natirar Resort, which will include the newly renovated Ninety Acres restaurant, a 66-room luxury hotel, a 12,000-foot luxury spa, fitness and wellness center, and residences.

The resort is situated on 90 acres leased from Somerset County in 2003 and is connected to the county’s 404-acre Natirar Park which runs along the North Fork of the Raritan River.

“As Ninety Acres celebrates 13 years of memorable dining and celebrations, Natirar is moving forward with the renovation of the historic restaurant and mansion and the creation of a new hotel and resort,” said Bob Wojtowicz, Founder and Owner. of Natirar, in a press release. . “Partnering with Somerset County and Peapack-Gladstone on C-PACE funding will result in significantly less environmental impact and significantly more energy savings at the new Natirar Resort.”

Related:Somerset Hills luxury hotel, $3 million Natirar homes ready by 2022

C-PACE funding is provided for 100% of project costs and is repaid as a special assessment over a term of up to 20 years. Local government assessment funding has been used effectively for decades across the United States to fund improvements to private property that serve a public purpose.

C-PACE is a national initiative, but programs are locally based and tailored to meet local market needs.

The COVID pandemic has hit Somerset County’s hospitality industry hard and the county, like neighboring Hunterdon, has been scrambling to expand its historic, event and destination tourism. Officials believe that when Natirar Spa and Resort is completed, it will be an important addition to Somerset County’s wedding, health and wellness and farm-to-table tourism markets.

“Somerset County is committed to both growing our destination tourism industry and protecting our environment, and this C-PACE project with Natirar is a perfect example of how we can do both,” said Somerset County Commissioner’s Deputy Director Melonie Marano said in a statement. “Natir’s fantastic history, stunning open spaces, new resort and Ninety Acres restaurant will draw people down the street and across the country. “

Legislation authorizing the PACE program was signed into law in August 2021 by Governor Phil Murphy. The legislation was introduced by retired state senator Kip Bateman, R-Somerset, and state senator Robert Smith, D-Middlesex.

Funding for the Natirar project is the result of a partnership between Natirar, the Somerset County Improvement Authority and Peapack-Gladstone.

The Improvement Authority provides the funding through Somerset County’s low interest bond rating based on its AAA bond rating. Peapack-Gladstone passed an ordinance allowing the program to proceed in the municipality. Natirar has agreed to make special property assessment payments to Peapack-Gladstone to repay the 30-year loan.

“We are very pleased that Natirar is contributing to our community, and even more pleased to be able to partner with Somerset County to facilitate these environmentally sustainable additions and renovations,” Peapack-Gladstone Mayor Gregory Skinner said in a statement. “Encouraging green building is simply something we should all be doing, and we’re excited to be part of New Jersey’s first C-PACE project.”

Upgrades and new projects at Natirar will include green roofs, renewable energy projects, specialized lighting systems, electronic glass windows and highly efficient HVAC systems throughout all buildings.

“Somerset County has a deep commitment to the environment, but also to providing support to our business community,” Improvement Authority Chairman Joel Shain said in a statement. “The innovative C-PACE program is a great tool for achieving both of these goals, and I’m proud to be working with our partners on the first such project in the Garden State.”

The mansion was originally built in 1912 as the estate of heiress Kate Macy Ladd and her husband, Walter Ladd, and was later sold to the King of Morocco.

Somerset County then purchased the 491-acre estate in 2003 for $22 million.

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Mike Deak is a reporter for mycentraljersey.com. For unlimited access to her articles on Somerset and Hunterdon counties, please subscribe or activate your digital account.

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