The Bayonne City Council approved a redevelopment plan and financial agreements with to construct the 18-story Silk Loft East and six-story Silk Lofts West buildings at 140 and 157-163 Avenue E, respectively, at last night’s meeting.
By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View
Silk Lofts East would be the tallest building in the city and contain 250 housing units.
According to attorney Mike Miceli, who is representing AMS Urban Renewal LLC – the developer for both projects – there will be over 400 parking spaces for both buildings and another in the Silk Lofts complex.
“It’s going to be a massive parking garage. The redevelopment plan requires it,” Miceli noted, acknowledging that there would be more parking spaces than units – a rarity in Hudson County development.
He added that the city wanted them to have enough parking not only for the units, but also for the retail, that would be included in the form of 20 visitor spaces. However, there won’t be any affordable units as part of the plan.
“It’s all going to be market-rate units. The city doesn’t have an affordable housing obligation except to renovate the existing stock. We had other costs associated with this project. There were some givebacks to the city. Those things raised the price. We did everything we could,” Miceli explained.
He noted that due to a state requirement, they would pay 2.5 percent of the property’s value to the Bayonne Affordable Housing Trust Fund to renovate older units.
“It does help,” Miceli asserted.
Silk Lofts West would have 36 housing units and their parking spots would be in the Silk Lofts East parking garage. The site is currently a parking spot for the current Silk Lofts building at 154 Avenue E near the 22nd Street Hudson-Bergen Light Rail station.
“I’d like to hear the comments from the councilperson of that ward,” 1st Ward Councilman Neil Carroll said when it came time to his vote.
“To respond to Councilman Carroll’s questions, the developer and the attorney … have been quite considerate to the city and the surrounding area in meeting our requests,” 2nd Ward Councilwoman Jackie Weimmer replied.
She explained they are using union labor and working with the city on their Payment In Lieu Of Taxes (PILOT) agreement.
“I’m very, very happy this a 100 percent union project. There’s a memorandum of agreement. Really happy to be putting a lot of people to work in both these projects. I vote aye,” said Council President Gary La Pelusa.
“I agree, I’m very happy that it’s going to be 100 percent union labor. When there was something to oppose and stop, I made no secret I was against this project. I think 18 stories is way outside the norm of reality. I was nervous then,” Carroll admitted.
He said a similarly sized building could be built anywhere in town, as well as that people in the 1st Ward are worried about a large building blocking the sunlight on their homes and backyards.
“It was defeated twice in the past under a previous council. We now face what I consider a tough decision,” he explained.
However, Carroll liked that it would be built by union labor too.
“There’s going to be responsible parties when the community in that neighborhood have concerns. As this will be the biggest thing in town … I vote aye,” Carroll said.
The financial agreement between the city and the developer for both buildings passed unanimously (5-0).
“I don’t like very tall buildings. I understood on Avenue E, it was on an empty lot,” La Pelusa added later in the meeting.
In other city business, the council also increased the salary range for four municipal positions.
The supervising school traffic guard was adjusted to between $52,592 and $75,232, the supervising parking enforcement officer range is now $52,91 to $75,232, the personnel technician starts at $85,137 and tops out $119,170, and finally the assistant municipal attorney has a new salary range from $72,275 to $96,647.
Supervising Parking Enforcement Officer Linda Vanderweerden is one of nearly two dozen defendants named in former employee Sincerrae Ross’ lawsuit alleging a hostile work environment, with the two sides currently awaiting a judge’s decision on a protective order and whether or not depositions will proceed.
The salary ranges passed unanimously (5-0) without any comments or discussion.