The Hoboken City Council passed a measure allowing the Hudson County Improvement Authority to consider acquiring the Poggi Press site for their $192.5 million municipal complex that would house the new Department of Public Works garage.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Specifically, the resolution calls for the HCIA “to acquire certain property and interests therein” to relocate their DPW garage, which must move by November 2024, as part of their Monarch settlement with Ironstate Development.
While the resolution didn’t state it outright, the area in question is the Poggi Press site, located at 1501 Adams St., which the administration has identified as the preferred location for their large-scale municipal complex.
The project has been going nowhere fast for the past few months since a related $44 million bond ordinance does not have six council votes to move forward.
Charles Poggi, the owner of the property, urged the council to vote the measure down last night.
“The administration’s attempt to get funding for the purchase of my property from the HCIA circumvents the authority of the city council – and the ‘will’ of the many residents who are opposed to the project,” he said during the public portion of the meeting.
“The administration is attempting an end run around elected officials by going to the HCIA for financing … Really? You guys are going to vote to allow the administration to undermine your own authority as city leaders. If you do so, this begs an entirely different question.”
He continued that the resolution asked the HCIA “to support the abuse of government authority,” later calling eminent domain “one of the most devastating weapons a government can use against citizens.”
Later, Ramos said there are only four property owners in the area and said the city should get them, their planners, and architects in the same room to work something out.
“I just think we’re missing a golden opportunity to try and create something on the North end of town that could be really special as you enter into Hoboken … I think we could reach all of the needs the administration wants on that one property throughout the city.”
While initially touted as a public safety complex, the latest proposal also includes the DPW, municipal court, council chambers, pool, and recreation center, among other things.
Fisher agreed with Ramos, stating it’s “a shame that the administration is trying to do a work around just because they can’t get the six requisite votes for what they currently have planned.”
Jabbour begged to differ, noting that Poggi never responded to a March 9th email asking why he was willing to sell to a real estate developer at a fair price but not the city.
” … It would be irresponsible for us not to think about the use of that site beyond a DPW garage because we live on one square mile. And I disagree that we have a ‘perfectly good’ HPD headquarters, as I recall, last year we spent over a million dollars to rebuild the IT infrastructure in the basement,” she said.
” … There have been I think six, eight, community meetings to this point, so the idea that somehow this is being done as a rope-a-dope, side deal, something nefarious in nature is just false. There’s an entire website where you can watch every single community meeting that has been held.”
5th Ward Councilman Phil Cohen, who called into the meeting, agreed, reiterating that the council approved the Monarch settlement unanimously and that the only alternatives are at 2nd and Harrison and the Monarch site itself.
Therefore, the Poggi site is the best option available, Cohen said.
Council President Mike Russo indicated that while he sees both sides of the argument, he agreed that they need to relocate the DPW garage and that the resolution in front of them makes their negotiations with the country transparent – as well as pointing out that they may not succeed.
“This just continues the ball down the road, and I have no problem doing that tonight, but I do have major concerns with this site, as Councilman Ramos has said, as Councilwoman Fisher has said. But there’s also an obligation and a duty to our residents to make sure we explore whatever options we can to make sure we move forward.”
The measure passed 5-3, with 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco, who also called into the meeting, Fisher, and Ramos voting no.
A spokeswoman for the HCIA told HCV on Tuesday that the agency had not received a formal request from the city on the project yet, while the resolution said the assessed value of the property is $19,320,000.