|All interviews were taped and documented. They are available through the Reference Department of the Teaneck Public Library. The Library is not responsible for the accuracy of the statements nor does it necessarily endorse the opinions expressed.|
|DATE OF INTERVIEW:||November 28, 1984|
|TRANSCRIBER:||Jackie Kinney (12/1985)|
(I) That was about 75.
(N) It has got to be that, yes. Let me see if I can find Warnecke's ... their proposal, a feasibility study was dated July 1, 1975. They submitted a formal, and you can have this, I want to show you. See the different concepts. Different schemes there. And
(I) Boy, they really did their homework.
(N) Oh yeah. this was a real good firm, real good firm.
(I) Then George, when did you come back on the group?
(N) 1980. About three, four years ago.
(I) And at that point
(N) They had already contracted with Sanzari.
(I) And you don't know where Sanzari came from?
(N) No I don't. That's the difficulty. That's where I have the loss. But before I get into Sanzari, let me tell you that at the time we got the proposal from Hartz Mountain and the check for $350,000, that so-called escrow payment or whatever you want to call it, I am not up on this real estate stuff, they came forward with a check for $350,000 and gave it to Mr. Moore and he went up to the Town Hall and bear in mind that Mrs. Keilizcek is now mayor and he presented her with the check and she never acknowledged it. Never said that she received it.
(I) That's interesting. What was that all about? That was just because she was against the whole idea.
(N) She had a negative attitude and she just was not going on record that she was, it is like the landlord who says, if you pay the rent, if there is a confrontation and you pay the rent and he accepts it, he has obligated himself. Well you must have been favorable, you took the woman's rent.
(I) That's right.
(N) Same point. Now here's the, you can, here she is with Frank Hall and that's just an opening statement on the part of the ... related to
(I) Now that's the Sanzari ...
(I) Boy, this really went through a lot of emotions.
(N) When I started, I want you to understand, I tried to cover it as well as I could but this was a very involved thing. Very involved. Now just feel free to take any of this right with you. .
(I) I am going to make a list before I
(N) Don't worry about that. You can even do that afterwards. I am not concerned.
(I) OK. So you were kind of watching from the sidelines at this point.
(N) At this point, that's right. Getting back to the mayor now, I see an article I have here about Burr and it says, the issue in last May's municipal election was cut and dry. One set of candidates lead by Burr and so forth... a combination of office tower up to eighteen stories. I never realized that. Twelve story apartment buildings. Well that was the two floors of parking plus ten floors on top. Twelve. And a ten story convention center and some single family homes. But that was dated, this is dated from the newspaper, December 5, 74 so that was 74. And shortly after, well there was a lapse here because this article, this is September 9, 1977. So there is a lapse there when I wasn't on it, when they were negotiating and of course let me mention now that the contrast between the offer by Hartz Mountain and what they considered from Sanzari was very controversial and the council, I don't know, but they took a million dollars with a hundred thousand dollar, I don't know how you'd term it, $100,000 subsidiary amount, I don't know what it was intended for but they took $1,000,000 as against Hartz $3-1/2 million. That's all Sanzari paid for that land. A million plus $100,000.
(I) So two and a half million went down. the drain on that.
(N) Yes, they conceded that.
(I) Why would, it was a much lower amount because they didn't do as much with the property, is that ...
(N) I guess the economics had changed in that time so he was able to bargain. Now let me see what it says here. The now accepted $1,000,000 sale price had been thought depressingly low by almost everybody involved.
(I) Also, now Sanzari was, who was the architect on this thing?
(N) He subsequently hired a fellow by the name of Ginsburg from down south Jersey, around, oh the nice area down there. Down beyond Morristown, in that area. I think I have it somewhere.
(I) What do you think as an architect, tell me, what do you think of the eventual architectural value of this?
(N) I don't care for it. I have grown up in the eclectic style, classic and that was my training and I was exposed to work in the firm I was with like the Mellin Gallery in Washington and work at Yale University and outstanding, in the National Archives Building. I've worked in Washington. And we just did wonderful work. And so this aspect of my associating with it was a little obtuse if I may call it that. I was not too sympathetic. But there was nothing we could do about that Hilde. Nothing we could do. We were in a position of responsibility to see that Teaneck got its money's worth but there was no irregularity or corruption or anything in the process of building, as to quality and so forth. That was our job. We had nothing to say about the design unless it was so crazy that ...
(I) Did you feel the Warnecke design, did you feel that was a better design?
(N) I never got a chance to see it at the advanced stage. I only saw what they call schematics. They never got a chance to develop ...
(I) It is interesting because obviously Warnecke and Durrell Stone and Skidmore, Owings are in the big league.
(N) Oh yes, sure. The last big thing in New York by Durrell was the General Motors Building on Fifth Avenue up near the Plaza Hotel but he was a dear friend of my brother's you know. We are Bostonians. I came out of Boston and Edward Durrell Stone was a kid and I was junior but he was older than I. I was in the office of Guy Lowell, the architect. He was the cousin of A. Lawrence Lowell of Harvard and I was a junior there when Edward Durrell Stone's brother took the drawings on the famous Chicago Tribune competition which our office worked on. His brother, he had an odd name, I can't think of it. But he took the drawings and traveled to Chicago with a man from our office who happened to be Lawrence Emmond and they went out and submitted them and that's when I first met Edward Durrell Stone and he knew my brother Carl. My brother Carl had the name of Nemo from a comic strip character in those days, very involved comic strip of the world of the future but the figure in that was Nemo and they named my brother gave him the nickname Nemo so we always referred to my brother as Nemo, we never called him Carl.
(I) That's funny.
(N) But I met Ed for the first time then because he developed, he went to Harvard and he had trouble with the engineering course over there. There was a very poor engineering course, not in quality but in the way it was delivered and he shifted over to M.I.T. and finished up at M.I.T. He is a graduate of M.I.T. By the way, before I get too far off the course, this is May 16, 1974, telegram received, this is after they had been elected. And this is signed by Kramer, Haase, Dougherty, Keilizcek, Jordan and Silverstein. It says, we, the undersigned, being six of the seven newly elected members of the Teaneck Township Council, consider the voters have made a clear choice against the present I80-95 development plan in yesterday's township election. We thus feel it incumbent upon us to advise you that it is our intention upon taking office to immediately appeal the ordinances which approve the I80-95 plan as well as the recently enacted amendment to the township zoning board which would permit construction under the plan including the creation of the RH and MI zoning. We understand that the escrow arrangement under which you made a deposit payment of $350,000 (now it comes out) contemplates a return of the money without any further liability of the parties if a formal contract is not signed for any reasons on or before May 31, 1974. We would therefore hope that as a responsible business concern you would recognize the expressed will of the people of Teaneck and their newly elected representatives, and refrain from entering into any contract or arrangement to purchase and or redevelop the Glenwood property under the present plan.
(I) So this was a telegram sent to your commission?
(I) Tell me what the reaction was when that came in.
(N) Well, we'd already developed a kind of resentment because we felt that they were antagonistic toward us as a board. That we were serving in a purely voluntary capacity, giving the time, and we gave a lot of time, and yet these people were just holding it off. As if to say, you may think you are doing something, we don't care. And it says in the final paragraph, In any event, we are placing you on notice of our intentions in this matter and advising you that any further action by you going forward or the signing of any contract will be at your own risk. And I have to tell you now, I can't remember the exact point, but it was shortly after this that we were informed by the council that we could not spend any money in excess of $1,000, anything more, without written consent of the council and it was at that point that Mr. Hefler and Mr. Gilinsky stepped down.
(I) What did they say? They said ... -
(N) It is obvious that they have no confidence in us and so forth and under the circumstances and so forth, and with the time we put in providing the leadership and so forth and the coordination of all of it, we are stepping down. And they got out.
(I) In that telegram, they said, if you went forward, it would be at your own risk. Did the redevelopment agency even consider going forward, was that a possibility at that point?
(N) Well at that point, it was with the Hartz Mountain thing.
(I) Ok but did the redevelopment agency consider defying the council?
(N) Not on that point. No.
(I) How serious was the confrontation? Did ...
(N) Well it was confined to this correspondence, that's about all. And just Hefler and Gilinsky both were too intelligent to want to have a face to face confrontation on a matter that obviously reflected a total lack of confidence and respect for this autonomous group, commissioners of redevelopment.
(I) Did you consider stepping down?
(I) Tell me, why did you decide, I mean your commitment was very strong then to ...
(N) Well I felt that they had a lot more to offer and so forth and that if they felt that that measure of disrespect and so forth, whatever you want to call it, was shown toward them and they felt that they wanted to just get out of the picture so to speak and rather than face at that time ...
(END OF TAPE)1 - SIDE 2 - BEGIN TAPE 2)
By the way, you might want to know that this thing caused me quite an upset. This is the construction magazine at the time and we were given an award by the New Jersey, I don't know what the actual association is, but we were given an award for the job and they gave us a luncheon and so forth in which we were honored and we got a plaque or something, I don't know. Mr. Sanzari got one and the Glenpointe, the redevelopment agency one too honoring us for the character of the work encompassed there and Mr. Dunican wanted to have the members of the board present and so he took it upon himself to order a table for all of us at the luncheon. And he was stopped by the township manager. He said he had no privilege to do such a thing and so forth. That if we wanted to do it, each member should buy his own ticket. And subsequently put in a voucher and so forth and they would get their money back. And I, I don't know, it's not that important that I want to ... I can't find it now. I thought I could actually read it quickly to you but ... what I wrote was that I was unequivocally angry about the attitude of the council, the administration I put it, and felt that I had served in the capacity of a volunteer for all these years in a post of what I thought was very important and then petty politics had reached from Teaneck down to Trenton and the commissioner's office and I was terminated. I wasn't renewed, that's what it amounted to. Then I went on to say that the story briefly about Mr. Hefler and Mr. Galinsky stepping down because of the short-mindedness of the council and that Mr. Dunican then took over as chairperson and I had been with him since 1970. He and I and so forth. And I said that in light of the developments and so forth and the attitude, I felt that this was again and example of the intransigence of the council and so forth, adamant about buying your own ticket and I said I am just totally unhappy about it or something like that and Mr. Moore sent copies of it to the chair, to the town manager and every member of the council and also the other members of the board. I am sorry I don't have a copy...
(I) Did you ever get a response?
(I) Let me just ask you; have you, how has the town recognized your contribution? Do you feel like ...
(N) Well those people that I say for lack of a better term that have a sensitivity about these things realize what you put into it respond and say that you are wonderful. It is just like I worked with a little thing called STARFISH. Here we give our time driving people to doctors and hospitals, we don't get a penny for gasoline or anything and people are very appreciative and others don't even bother. Some people even say well can't I send a contribution but that's irrelevant. But here again, it is just another aspect of human nature. So there are people in town that at this point realize what a horrible mistake it was to let those people in at that time to defeat Mr. Burr. They realize the horrible mistake.
(I) Tell me what, now what is the agency doing now or what is its interest ...
(N) Well in just the last couple of years that I've been on it, we have gone through the formal process of meeting with the Sanzari people and approving the necessary mortgage money from Chase Manhattan Bank, the Old Dominion Bank of Canada, the Mellon Bank of Pittsburgh, all of these different banks have loaned money for what you see down there now. The hotel that Chase Manhattan underwrote, the initial housing, the condominiums Chase Manhattan underwrote, phase one, Old Dominion is in on a part of it, the garage had to be underwritten, that's a tremendous building, and all that's been done in the years that I've been back.
(I) So you've been around for a lot of action in the last few years.
(N) Oh yes. Under Sanzari. And I watched the architectural development and again, it is just between us, this is off the record, it isn't the type of thing that I admire. I am sure people, lay people coming in, are looking for atmosphere and they are very impressed with the marble interior and so forth. You don't walk on what I call a practical floor; they've got this imported marble and Mr. Sanzari went to Italy and bought it. But he must have gotten a good deal on it. It is marble everywhere, my goodness, and some of it is done in such a way that it is not an architecturally first choice. He has taken marble sizes that he could get at the right price and adapted it to the job whereas we would do it in more monumental scale for the total concept, they did not consider that. They got the marble and the overall effect is there but I, as a practiced eye, notice those little things and that's what I ...
(I) That's interesting.
(N) That's my critical eye and I don't share that with a lot of people.
(I) I've noted that's off the record. So you've been involved in the financing and
(N) Right. Approval. We have to see that the moneys that have been set aside for a particular project are used and so forth and they 'are not diverted to something else and we have a construction managing firm called Kasper Associates of Bridgeport, Connecticut and they are the construction consultants, Kasper Associates. And they are paid for by the redevelopment agency and they supervise the construction from the filling of the soil to bring this whole project up to grade. By the way, I must say that before construction started, it was necessary to raise the grade on that whole plot ten feet so they brought in hundreds of thousands of yards of soil from distance in trucks and so forth and brought that up ten feet.
(I) Is that part of what was so expensive
(N) In the beginning, sure. And the entrepreneurs never knew that. Hartz Mountain would have had to do it but Sanzari did it. That was a lot of money. The initial $3,500,000 that Hartz offered was for the land. On top of that, when they signed a, then they'd have to go in and do the site development including consideration for sewers because there were no sewers and they had to provide sewers for the project, adequate to take care of all this building and so forth, so that was all a part of it and that went before any construction started.
(I) Do you think Sanzari wound up with a better deal than Hartz Mountain? Are they going to make more of a profit on this than?
(N) Well just between us, in light of what I found out about Harmon Cove (which Hartz Mountain did develop), I would say that what we have in quality by Sanzari is much better.
(I) Oh. OK. Well, that's good.
(N) That's my deduction. I think that Hartz Mountain would not have tackled the project with that inherent desire to have quality. I think there are enough businessmen and so forth that they wouldn't hesitate about probably cutting their corners.
(I) Are there some problems with Harmon Cove?
(N) Oh yeah. They've had a lot of problems. That's built on the swamp adjacent to the river and it is on piles and so forth. They've had settlement and everything. Around the room, the floor would drop away from the walls. Oh they got a lot of problems.
(I) Well that's interesting. That's an interesting sideline.
(N) People don't know it. That doesn't spread but I learned it from word of mouth but they've had a lot of problems down there.
(I) So the township would have come out with more money but the project might have been, had some trouble for people who moved in there?
(N) You can't tell. This is only in my mind a deduction, a potential deduction.
(I) Now what is the redevelopment association doing now at this moment?
(N) Well you know that the hotel is up, the shops are up and functioning, there is a spa in there and these things are doing very well. The first office building is 85/90% occupied, the second one is just being finished, enclosed in, and now they've had such poor success with the renting and selling of the condominiums that they wanted a substitute now for the last phase of condominiums another office building, No.3, 100,000 square feet and there's been a great argument between a couple of members of the agency and Sanzari's representative as the relative value of the land that they want to convert to an office building. We have a couple on our board that are real estate people and one is an entrepreneur himself and he argues that that land that they want for an office building they are not offering enough money for it. If it were developed with the subsequent townhouses that were to be built down there, the return to the city, the town, in taxes would be a heck of a lot more than for an office building.
(I) Would it really?
(N) Yeah. And this fellow by the name of Lakin who is one of the commissioners, Lawrence Lakin, he has argued that the land is a much too valuable piece to concede that to Sanzari for an office building.
(I) What do you think is going to happen?
(N) Well it is at a standstill now. We have six foundations, collective foundations, for an intermediate phase of townhouses that have nothing built on them and they lay there and the attitude now, I am I guess lacking in business acumen, I am not tough minded, but my idea is they shouldn't be so tough and they ought to take time to see if we can adapt a redesign of what goes on these foundations probably at a little less cost and see if we can move them but Old Dominion, the bank in Canada, advanced the money on the condos said we will not advance any money on those until the other houses are sold. They are getting tough.
(I) Oh my. So this could be up in the air for quite a while.
(N) It is in limbo right now.
(I) So the redevelopment association still has a lot, there is still plenty of stuff to keep you busy with all of this.
(N) Oh yes. We have judgments and so forth to face for some time to come.
(I) Let me ask you George, what do you think now with this long perspective that you have has been the impact on the town of what's there now.
(N) Very favorable. And we have had nothing but favorable comments. The only thing that we were getting a little rub-off is a couple of people that are active in the town in advisory capacities and so forth actually live in the condominiums and we've had one who says he bought it, he loves it and he is where he wants to be but there are others that think that as a result of the lack of sales of the rest of the place and so forth that they are in a rather negative position so to speak.
(I) The way you felt in 1970 when you first started out on this, do you feel satisfied with what eventually accomplished?
(N) Well I think everything considered, and I am saying it with only the thought as to what the town has benefited, what has come as a benefit to the town, I have to be satisfied but from an architectural standpoint, I am critical. I am very upset, just between us, at the color of that hotel. I was off it when that happened and I would have fought like hell. I just don't know why they ever let them put up that color.
(I) It is very strange.
(N) But it is tremendously successful. Tremendously. That place is going full blast.
(I) Now what's the financial impact for Teaneck of those taxes? Does that help us a lot?
(N) Well it certainly helps but it hasn't been sufficient to decrease the taxes. The total effect as Mr. Burr said when he was visualizing this thing, he said he wasn't sure that he could, he didn't want to say that he would reduce the taxes of every person in Teaneck but he said he felt the outcome would be to stabilize them.
(I) Has that happened?
(N) Oh yes. We are getting $2 million plus, almost $3 million from the hotel in taxes. I am just sorry Mr. Moore ... because he has all that stuff on his fingertips.
(I) So the one thing I guess you probably didn't anticipate when you got started in 70 was the politics you'd have to go through.
(N) Yes. See I am not politically minded. I am not politically minded at all.
(I) Well you don't seem bitter about what happened.
(N) No, no.
(N) You are kind of philosophical about the whole thing.
(N) Well I think that in my relationship with the town, with people like Burr, Orville Sather who is no longer with us, he is out in Ohio running his radio station, Seymore Herr is now retired, Bernie Confer who was on the board, Joe Coffee and those people along with a group on this thing now with Jim Moore who to me is just aces, John Dunican, a very capable man and these other men, they are just great. These people give their time you know, hours on end, just to serve the town and Lincoln's philosophy, sometimes I think he is unduly critical, the bottom line is, I want to see that Teaneck gets what is coming to 'em and I think that is admirable.
(I) So now how much longer does the redevelopment association continue?
(N) Well I don't know whether it will continue until the last nail is driven but I think until possibly until we resolve this last phase of it.
(I) Anything else you want to add on this, it is a fascinating story.
(N) Well it is a very involved story and I am just going to give you this to let to take what you want of it and ... no, I have to say from my own point of view that I think there have been moments when I felt we were asking too much of Sanzari. I think he has done a quality job even though my viewpoint as a trained architect is critical, in a purely technical sense or aesthetic sense, yet the man has done things that I don't think would have been done if it wasn't Sanzari. He has that basic pride in a Sanzari project that he injects that quality of himself in the thing. I recognize that.
(I) That's good to know. Do you know what else he has done?
(N) Oh he has done a lot of stuff. Well he is doing that big plaza in Hackensack right now. That's his project. Right there at the Court House. That's his. And he has a lot of apartments and things like that. Oh he's a very successful man. Very successful. And I've admired him. His son who will naturally succeed him and so forth is a handicapped boy, he's got one hand, and I understand he has another son, a retarded son, so he has those things which are mostly a part of his life and he carries on but he is not a mogul if you know what I mean. He doesn't act like a mogul. When you greet him, it is not I am Sanzari, you know, a multi-millionaire and so forth. He is a very humble, very delightful person.
(I) Well I really appreciate your time and I must say it is quite a contribution that you've made and I know you've done a lot of other things in Teaneck but this is really just, it must be years worth of work, of hard work.
(N) It is. Just think, 1970 and other than the lapse there when I was off, well I've been active in other things you know. I was on the school board for six years. I want to give you these news clippings and everything else. I want you to have them and get them back to me when you are through with them
(I) That's wonderful, That material will be very ...
(END OF TAPE)