“We took a crappy block and turned it into something special” were the words of Christopher Paladino, attorney for The New Brunswick Development Corporation, responsible for the renovation of the Heldrich Hotel in New Brunswick, NJ. A $20 million loan was given to the Middlesex County Improvement Authority from the CRDA (Casino Reinvestment Development Authority) in 2005 to renovate the run down hotel. Unfortunately, the Improvement Authority has been behind on payments for about five years, adding up to nearly $7 million. The majority of its customers have been with the Johnson and Johnson account, whose executives are on the board of directors for the New Brunswick Development Corporation, according to an article written by the Press of Atlantic City.
The hotel opened at a rocky time, in 2007, just as the economy was about to take a dive. They have not been able to obtain much occupancy and even had to use $776,000 of their own money just to replace carpets and mattresses according to Chris Paladino in the article. Maria Prato, spokesperson for the Middlesex County Improvement Authority said she hopes that as the overall economy improves, the hotel will continue to improve and “satisfy its outstanding obligations.” CRDA Executive Director John Palmieri said that the $20 million loan was given knowing they would be among the last to be paid and admits in the Atlantic City Press article that things aren’t necessarily going as planned.
The New Brunswick Development Corporation, “Devco,” is a non profit real estate development company formed to restore the New Brunswick area, specializing in public-private partnerships. Devco is responsible for $1.6 billion in projects that have taken place in New Brunswick, according to www.devco.org. The website states that the projects are based on the people who live, work in, and visit New Brunswick. Hopefully the Heldrich Hotel can be “a diamond in the rough,” defeat its economic troubles, and live true to the philosophy of “Devco.”