Court battle between Academy Bus, Hoboken ends as new Lot 10 appraisal begins

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After six months, a court battle between Academy Bus and the City of Hoboken has concluded as both parties have agreed to terms that includes a new Lot 10 appraisal that will require city council approval.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“Upon approval of said appraisal by the City Council of the City of Hoboken and the authorization to extend a formal written offer to acquire the Property based upon said appraisal, the City of Hoboken shall extend a new formal offer to purchase the Property,” says an amended order approved by Hudson County Superior Court Judge Peter Bariso yesterday.

Hoboken filed an eminent domain lawsuit against Jefferson Street Partners et. al, the owners of Lot 10 affiliated with Academy Bus, on September 17th to move forward with eminent domain, just a few days before publicly announcing their plans to broaden the Southwest Resiliency Park.

In November, Bariso didn’t mince words when speaking about the merits of the suit, exclaiming that “the city’s relying on an appraisal that they concede is faulty,” as HCV first reported.

At the time, he asserted that the city inaccurately assessed the property at $5.3 million back in 2017, later proven to be closer to $4.8 million in 2019.

Other contingencies state that Jefferson Street Partners has 14 days to accept a formal offer from the city and that retired Bergen County Superior Court Judge Daniel P. Mecca will be used as a mediator for 90 days – where both parties will split the costs of remediation.

If an agreement can still not be reached at that point, Hoboken has the opportunity to file another eminent domain case. However, both sides appear optimistic that a deal can be reached in short order.

“The City and Academy have jointly agreed to explore options to expand Hoboken’s Southwest Park that is acceptable to both parties, which involves a new appraisal to be considered the City Council,” said city spokesman Vijay Chaudhuri.

“We anticipate asking the City Council for approval for an updated appraisal sometime in March.”

Academy Bus Vice President of Real Estate David Lehmkuhl added said that the process to have a new appraisal has already begun and that the city appears opened to negotiations.

“I would say that the tone from the City is much more agreeable now and not adversarial as before. To have a good faith negotiation the City needs to have the best and most updated information possible in order to make a decision,” he stated.