PEAPACK-GLADSTONE – The developer of the Natirar estate will be the first in New Jersey to benefit from a government-backed bond to make environmentally friendly improvements to the historic buildings on the estate that once served as a residence for 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 finance improvements to the Natirar Resort, which will consist of the newly refurbished Ninety Acres restaurant, a 66-room luxury hotel, a 12,000-foot luxury spa, a fitness and wellness center and residential homes.
The resort is located on 90 acres that was leased from Somerset County in 2003 and is connected with the county’s 404-acre Natirar Park that runs along the North Branch of the Raritan River.
“As Ninety Acres celebrates 13 years of memorable dinners and celebrations, Natirar is moving forward with the renovation of the restaurant and historic mansion and the creation of a new hotel and resort,” said Bob Wojtowicz, founder and owner of Natirar, in a statement. “The partnership with Somerset County and Peapack-Gladstone on the C-PACE funding will result in significantly less impact on the environment and far more energy savings in the new Natirar Resort.”
Related:Somerset Hills luxury hotel, $3 million homes at Natirar ready by 2022
C-PACE funding is provided for 100% of a project’s costs and is repaid as a special assessment over a term of up to 20 years. Local government assessment financing has been used efficiently for decades throughout the United States to fund improvements to private property that meet a public purpose.
C-PACE is a national initiative, but programs are locally based and tailored to meet local market needs.
The COVID pandemic hit Somerset County’s hospitality industry hard and the county, like neighboring Hunterdon, has been working to expand its historical, event and destination tourism. Officials believe that when the Natirar Spa and Resort is completed, it will be a significant addition to Somerset County’s wedding, health and wellness, and farm-to-table tourism markets.
“Somerset County is committed to both expanding 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 Deputy Director Melonie Marano in a statement. “Natirar’s fantastic history, stunning open space, new hotel resort and the Ninety Acres restaurant will be an environmentally sensitive draw to people down the street and across the country. “
The legislation enabling the PACE program was signed into law in August 2021 by Gov. Phil Murphy. The legislation was introduced by retired state Sen. Kip Bateman, R- Somerset, and state Sen. Robert Smith, D-Middlesex.
The financing for the Natirar project is the result among a partnership among Natirar, the Somerset County Improvement Authority and Peapack-Gladstone.
The Improvement Authority is providing the financing through Somerset County’s low-interest bond rating based on its AAA bond rating. Peapack-Gladstone adopted an ordinance allowing the program to go forward in the municipality. Natirar has committed to make special property tax assessment payments to Peapack-Gladstone to pay off the 30-year loan.
“We are very happy to have Natirar contributing to our community, and even happier to be able to partner with Somerset County to facilitate these environmentally sustainable additions and renovations,” said Peapack-Gladstone Mayor Gregory Skinner in a statement. “Encouraging green building is simply something we should all be doing, and we’re glad to be part of New Jersey’s first C-PACE project.”
The upgrades and new projects at Natirar will include green roofing, renewable energy projects, specialized lighting systems, e-glass windows and highly efficient HVAC systems in all buildings.
“Somerset County has a deep commitment to the environment, but also to providing support for our business community,” said Improvement Authority Chairman Joel Shain in a statement. “The innovative C-PACE program is a great tool to achieve both goals, and I’m proud to work with our partners on the first such project in the Garden State.”
The mansion was originally built in 1912 as the estate home of heiress Kate Macy Ladd and her husband, Walter Ladd and was later sold to the king of Morocco
Somerset County then bought the 491-acre estate in 2003 for $22 million.
Mike Deak is a reporter for mycentraljersey.com. To get unlimited access to his articles on Somerset and Hunterdon counties, please subscribe or activate your digital account.