Hoboken announces $4.5M in community givebacks from Hilton Hotel developer

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Calling it a historic milestone for the Mile Square City, Mayor Ravi Bhalla announced that as part of the Hilton Hotel project, the developer will provide $4.5 million in community givebacks including funding for public schools and a community center. 

The developer, KMS Development Partners, says the new hotel will double the amount of hotel rooms in Hoboken, triples the amount of meeting and event space and will offer 300-plus days of public rooftop bar access annually.

Bhalla stressed that in addition to the aforementioned amenities, the hotel will be the first of its kind to be built and operated by union workers.

“I am also very proud to announce that this will be the first major construction project in North Jersey that will be union built and union operated,” he began.

“As mayor, I am committed to economic development that benefits not only the business owners but provides good, living-wage jobs for all workers. Union labor is the backbone of the nation’s economy, Hoboken’s success was built upon union workers and we will not forget where we came from.”

He then proceeded to highlight the other substantive benefits to the city and its residents, including a commitment by the developer to fund a total of $4.5 million worth of various public programs such as $200,000 towards an affordable housing trust fund, $1 million in infrastructure spending for water-mains and road improvements in the vicinity of the hotel, $1.3 million for both Hoboken Public Schools and charter schools and $2 million for the Hoboken Community Center.

As Hudson County View first reported, the initial agreement between the city and the developer didn’t include an allocation to the city’s charter schools, though the developer offered to pitch in an additional $300,000 – $100,000 for each school.

After the press conference, we asked Bhalla what led to the change.

“They initially weren’t part of the agreement because we had difficulty coming to an agreement with the developer to include them in the $1 million endowment [for public schools], but with the generosity of the developer they agreed as of yesterday to inject $300,000 into this agreement because I took a stand and advocated very strongly that charter schools shouldn’t be left out, charter schools are public schools and they deserve to be given support as well,” he stated.

The presidents of Hoboken’s three charter schools, Hoboken, Elysian and Hoboken Dual Language schools, applauded the interested parties coming back to the table, but expressed concern because the current process doesn’t treat charter schools with equity.

“We love Hoboken schools. We welcome any news of additional funding for public schools and public school children. Hoboken charter schools remain united. We want equality and fairness for all public school children – both district and charter alike,” they said in a statement.

“We look forward to continued conversations with the community, the Mayor and the City Council to allocate the funds in a fair and transparent manner.”

Speaking on behalf of the five-member Hilton Hotel subcommittee, 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher said in a statement she was happy with the city and developer collaborating on the significant project.

“We are happy to see that collaboration with the mayor and the developer has resulted in a 50% increase in the community giveback to $4.5 million and that the scope has been expanded to include critical infrastructure, affordable housing, and charter schools,” they said.

“Additionally, KMS also committed today to fund immediately the much needed feasibility study to officially launch the restoration project for the former YMCA so that it can be shovel-ready when the remainder of the giveback is paid after the hotel opens. This is what is possible when our city works together.”

While not in attendance, Councilman Michael DeFusco, who represents the 1st Ward, where the hotel will be built, also said he was happy with the collaboration, but still took the mayor to task for not securing more monies to improve infrastructure in the vicinity.

“I am greatly disappointed that infrastructure funds dedicated to mitigating the impact of this project were not more substantial,” he began.

” … It’s difficult to square Mayor Bhalla’s heated rhetoric about our poor water infrastructure, just a few short weeks ago, with this current redevelopment agreement, which adds nearly 350 new rooms to half a city block, but only puts $1 million towards infrastructure.”

Bhalla ended the press conference by imploring the city council to vote on the new hotel  agreement at their next meeting on October 17.

The full press conference streamed live on our Facebook page and can be viewed below:

8 COMMENTS

  1. How funny. Bhalla takes credit for adding in the charters and actually blames the developer. Even after telling the charters yesterday they should actually just wait in line until next time. He cant be honest to save his own life. The charters have a loud political voice and it was actually the city council who heard it, not the mayor.

  2. “Union labor is the backbone of the nation’s economy,” Ravi Bhalla said.

    Actually, not anywhere near the truth in the 21st century. The construction unions are, however, the backbone of Ravi Bhalla’s campaign funding and other extracurricular activity. See: Ravi Terror Flyer.

    • You connected the dots time and time again! When will that incompetent Ferrante step down and make the crime-solving Hero Horse the chief of police! Ferrante is corrupt and was paid off not to find the truth! The Hero Horse has the facts and evidence!

      • Wouldn’t taunt that Horse guy Stanislaw. He doesn’t let go and you saw the FBI eventually caught up to your old pal Pupster. Can lightning strike twice? You might want to get out of town for another long trip! I can hear the stampede!

  3. Bahlla says that Unions are the backbone of the economy. So I have two questions for Ravi:
    1) Wasn’t it just last month that Hoboken Firefighter Unions went before the City Council to ask the Mayor to settle their contract after almost a year of the Mayor stonewalling them?
    2) Did the unions involved in the hotel contribute to your campaign?
    Now, I understand that you are a very busy man, what with being Mayor and that law firm deal you have, so perhaps you can get one of those unneeded stooges on your staff to answer for you.
    Anything Chief of Staff, Deputy Chief of Staff, Communications Director???

  4. 15 union signs in that picture. These aren’t give backs. They are give-aways. Thanks Ravi. Stronger Foundations got what they paid for. Legalized corruption, Jersey style. Chalk another one up for the Soprano State.

  5. The developer already signed on to make improvements worth $1,000,000 in the area around the hotel.

    Ravi is claiming that he obtained a million dollars for infrastructure downtown but this was already negotiated and agreed to under Mayor Zimmer.

    How dare Ravi spit on Dawn Zimmer like that! He wouldn’t have been able to win with 32% of the vote last year without her backing.

    Ravi lies!

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