Maplewood Woman's Club is Back on the Market
Original buyer backed out after neighbors sued to block sale.
The article has been updated with a comment from Tom Kerns.
After more than three years of lawsuits and delays, The Woman's Club of Maplewood is back on the market, after the original buyer backed out.
The historic property at 60 Woodland Road is currently listed for $1,999,900, according to Caroline Farnsworth of Keller Williams Mid-Town Direct Realty in Maplewood Village.
In March of 2011, Lamona LLC, a limited liability corporation formed by Tom Kerns, Maplewood resident and co-founder of HK Project, purchased the building for an undisclosed amount. But the completion of the sale has been tied up in a lawsuit since October of that year.
"The decision to suspend the process of purchasing the property was not an easy one, but the reasons for doing so are personal," said Kerns in an email to Patch. "I am saddened that I had to make this decision especially for what it means to the community, but I will continue to focus on engaging our community through our work at HK Project, including finding ways to continue to support the arts through Studio B, our performing arts division."
The property first went on the market in August of 2010 for an asking price of $2.4 million. In February of that year, Maplewood Township had brought suit against the Woman's Club claiming that it should be paying taxes on the property because it was renting to for-profit ventures.
The Township and the Woman's Club eventually came to a settlement stipulating that the Woman's Club pay $55,000 in lieu of taxes to the Township over five years. The club said it could not afford the sum and would be forced to relocate and sell. The property remained tax exempt and the Township dropped its suit.
When Kerns purchased the property, the price was speculated to be much lower than asking because he agreed not to raze the building or build additions. Kerns would not receive any tax abatements from the town.
Kerns said he wanted to restore the club to be used for community events as well as weddings and other events. "I have the opportunity to create a space that is popular with the community. But also do it in such a way that it's a benefit to the village," said Kerns in an interview with Patch shortly after the sale.
That summer, the Maplewood Zoning Board of Adjustment granted Lamona a variance for continuation of a non-conforming use, allowing the sale to move forward. But, in October, Woodland and Inwood Road neighbors sued the Zoning Board of Adjustment and Lamona LLC challenging the variance. The neighbors had appeared at the ZBA meeting in June to complain of noise and traffic related to events at the building.
Althought Kerns offered concessions stipulating that the use of amplified music would be limited to certain times, and that a parking solution would be found, the lawsuit dragged on without resolution.
Patch has reached out to Kerns for comment and will update this story as more information becomes available.