The Bayonne City Council approved a measure okaying the sale of just over 4 acres of Harbor Station South property for nearly $2.1 million at last night’s meeting.
The ordinance, agenda item O-2, authorized the sale of two parcels of land, spanning 2.12 and 2.01 acres, respectively, at the Military Ocean Terminal – specifically Harbor Station South.
The land was sold at $500,000 an acre, for a total of $2,065,000.
Bayonne resident Patrick McManus was the lone speaker on the ordinance, indicating he felt the city was being shortchanged on the deal – where Mahalaxmi Bayonne, LLC was the buyer.
When he questioned how the land was appraised, Corporation Counsel Jay Coffey was happy to weigh in.
“We have our assessor, the assessment [i]s done, the land has an assessed value and the [price] is negotiated off of that. There’s a projected value on it once it’s developed that’ll provide a revenue source for the City of Bayonne,” Coffey said.
“Anything else, the typical, same as if you were selling your house. There’s really nothing complicated, nothing’s been done down there so it’s really hard to gauge what the projected value’s gonna be,” City Council President Sharon Nadrowski added.
McManus stuck to his guns, exclaiming that he feels the land is “prime real estate,” but Coffey quipped back that the land has lost value by going undeveloped since 2001.
Bayonne Tax Assessor Joe Nichols tried to further that argument by throwing some numbers into the equation.
“The last contract we had for this area was at exactly $500,000 an acre. That came all the way from, what Jay, two weeks from closing? And then it didn’t close. Okay, that was just a year-and-a-half ago.”
In April 2016, Mayor Jimmy Davis revealed that Kate Howard LTD would not be developing Harbor Station South after they had been announced as the developer in September.
No reason was given for them backing out of the project, but JMF Properties won a bid to develop 16 acres of Harbor Station South back in June 2016.
More recently, the council approved a 30-year payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) in March to bring a 40-acre commercial development to Harbor Station South.
Nichols added that selling the land brings a big financial incentive to the city since now someone will be paying taxes on it.
“I also want to say that the $500,000 purchase price generates, when the deed transfers, right now it’s paying zero … that’s $16,000 an acre, just on regular land, that’s why that property will pay now.”
Nevertheless, McManus still had his reservations about the deal.
“I’m just concerned because Bayonne has been doing a lot of redevelopment: we’re so close to New York City, trying to get more of those New York City individuals who work in those high rises to come live in Bayonne and my concern was that you could get much more for that land … it’s much more valuable,” he said.
“We’ve been hearing that since 2001 when we took over the property and one things been built there: the Alexi, that’s it,” Coffey responded, noting that the Port Authority pays zero in taxes on the Military Ocean Terminal property that they previously purchased.
Without any further discussion, the measure passed unanimously (5-0).