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05.06.2015
The 19th-century Blauvelt Mansion has been considered for an assisted-living facility over the objections of many in town. ORADELL — The fate of Blauvelt Mansion, the sprawling 19th-century estate cherished as a town landmark, remains unresolved after the property's foreclosure sale was pushed back until January.
Now empty, Blauvelt is on the block at the Bergen County Sheriff's Department with a foreclosure price at more than $4 million, and had been slated for auction last Friday afternoon. Blauvelt Associates bought the estate's $2.6 million mortgage in 2011 while the owner, Jeffrey Wells, struggled to avoid foreclosure. Though it has the title to the property and owns one of the mortgages, CareOne has to buy both mortgages in the foreclosure sale to take full ownership of the property.
Michael Caruso, attorney for Blauvelt Associates, confirmed that the sale date had been moved but declined to comment further. In 2007, Wells backed off plans to add a catering hall to the property after neighbors objected. The initial application that went before the borough's zoning board in 2007 was for a 76-unit facility.


A second application, for a 68-unit facility, was voted down in November 2008, although the zoning board said it would green-light a facility half that size with 34 units. This time, CareOne did sue, claiming the denial violated federal law preventing discrimination against the disabled. The Wells family told the judge at that time that CareOne had breached its purchase contract and no longer had the right to buy the property.
In a chancery court case, CareOne claimed it stopped making the mortgage payments after discovering that one of the company's former executives had taken over the mortgage and lent the family $100,000 without telling CareOne or disclosing his personal interest in the property. In the end, the property went into foreclosure, and CareOne bought the delinquent $2.6 million mortgage in early 2011. For years, faced with broad public resistance to the proposed facility, the borough tried to raise money to purchase Blauvelt, at one point securing a $1 million matching grant from the Bergen County Historic Preservation Trust Fund.
Borough Attorney Brian Giblin said that while the permit "is not good indefinitely," CareOne could conceivably move on the project within the next year. With no pending applications, the property has been on the back burner in town for the past year, and retained an aura of mystery.


Later that year, CareOne contracted with Wells to build an assisted living facility for dementia patients on the front lawn leading up to the house.
A federal judge dismissed the case in June 2010, after questions arose about the company's standing in the suit.
That contract called for the company to make $15,000 monthly mortgage payments for the Wells' while the zoning board was considering its application.
The company, which operates 17 facilities throughout the state, has not shared plans with the borough for more than a year. The adjournment marks the latest stage in a painful, five-year legal battle over the property involving the borough, the Fort Lee-based CareOne and Blauvelt's former owners.



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