LETTER: Hoboken’s Doyle says Bhalla slate best choice for smart development

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In a letter to the editor, Hoboken Councilman-at-Large James Doyle explains why he feels Ravi Bhalla’s ticket is the best choice to leader the city forward with smart development.

James Doyle

Dear Editor,

During this campaign, many residents have asked me what distinguishes Councilman Ravi Bhalla and our slate from our opponents. One major difference is our approach toward development. The next Mayor will be under tremendous pressure to permit large, out-of-scale development in our City. What is at stake is the charm, character, and scale that makes Hoboken a special place to live.

A good example of how our team differs from the others is the planned hotel tower on our waterfront overlooking Pier A Park. Ravi and I were the only Council members who voted against this ill-advised, 290-foot high tower to be squeezed into the parking lot behind the downtown, main Post Office. The project would directly overshadow Pier A Park, our gem of a waterfront park. It would be the second tallest building in Hoboken, at a height of a 29-story building.

Ravi and I and the rest of our team are supportive of a hotel in this location. It would help local businesses and provide extra tax revenue and good jobs for residents. The concept was to bring a 12-14 story “boutique” hotel to this location, in line with the heights of the surrounding buildings. This concept somehow morphed into a 290-foot high building, totally out of scale with this and any other area in Hoboken. 

In exchange for this huge concession, the City will receive no true community benefits.

Typically, when the City allows for increased bulk or height, it insists upon receiving public benefits from the redeveloper commensurate with the amount of “up-zoning” in a plan. Such givebacks might include the construction of a new school or park, provision of affordable housing (or a payment into the affordable housing trust), flood mitigation measures, etc. Here, however, the plan, supported by Councilwoman Giattino and Councilman DeFusco, provides no community “give backs” at all. Instead, the plan considers a for-profit, high-end rooftop restaurant and a for-profit banquet hall as alleged public benefits. There is no financial contribution toward maintenance of the parks in its front yard (like the other buildings along the waterfront make), and nothing for affordable housing, schools, or open space. Just a conference space for rent and a for-profit restaurant atop Hoboken’s second tallest building.

While many seemingly agree that commercial as opposed to residential development is a better choice in our City’s North End (north of the viaduct), its scale does matter. That’s why Ravi and I voted against an out-of-scale hotel plan downtown that has no public benefits. During the recent mayoral debate, Councilwoman Giattino said Ravi did not understand; she said she’d negotiate real public benefits. It is she who doesn’t understand – if it is not in the plan (that she approved), we’ve lost our leverage and legal leg up.

Our team, led by Ravi, is fully committed to navigating the redevelopment process in a manner that prioritizes the interests of residents over the interests of developers, and we will protect our community from similar, ill-advised projects going forward.

Sincerely,

Councilman Jim Doyle

6 COMMENTS

  1. This is some babbling revisionism coming from Stan, Ravi and the Bhalla Team who all backed that monstrosity going up at 7th and Jackson. Everyone in the neighborhood hates it.

    That was before we found out we’re also paying for it in more than a $100 million dollars tax abatement for decades out!

    So thanks Jim Doyle, Ravi Bhalla and the Bhalla slate who are telling up how swell they are and will be best for Hoboken.

    Fortunately, we have Jen Giattino who voted against that scam for a little park and basketball court. Shoot, if you give me $100 million I’ll give you two more of the same.

    Trust Jen Giattino on the path for development, not these clowns who can’t properly price the value of a small park and basketball court.

    What a ripoff!

  2. Residents should review the involvement of Doyle’s wife’s law firm in large legal contracts awarded by the City. Bhalla isn’t the only Team Zimmer member to receive direct or indirect benefits from his Council seat while voting on the Council Resolutions which these law firms are involved with.

  3. How about Jim Doyle’s $50,000 dollar shipping container so he and his buddies can hang out and drink beers as they wax their kayaks?

    The pork barrel spending by Doyle, Bhalla and Zimmer would make Boss tweed blush

  4. The oversized hotel project is just another example of Jen Giattino only caring only about the people in her brownstone crowd. It is not next to them so who cares. Whoever gets to be mayor needs to understand and do what is best for all parts of Hoboken and I don’t think Giattino and her slate of next-door neighbors are ready will or able to even try to do that. Mike DeFusco has also long been bending over backwards to cater to the deep pocketed developers of the hotel tower and ignoring protests of his First Ward constituents.

    • Giattino and Cunningham have both made it clear they think the “brownstone” neighborhoods are the real Hoboken and the rest of Hoboken is where we should put all the stuff they want but don’t want in their neighborhood.

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