Hoboken council OKs first Western Edge settlement with 30-year PILOT, no labor deal


The Hoboken City Council voted to settle the first part of the Western Edge redevelopment litigation that includes a 30-year payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement that comes with no union labor agreement.

An artist’s rendering of the residential portion of the Western Edge Redevelopment Plan. Photo via Pegasus Partners.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“In Chapter 23, if a project gets PILOT, or some sort of a tax abatement, they’re required to enter into a building service workers agreement. What this settlement agreement essentially does is, as part of the settlement agreement, waives that requirement,” explained Hoboken Director of Community Development Chris Brown.

” … It waives the requirement, it makes it not required. So the developer could have that choice, will have that choice, if they decide to go forward with it, but they’re not required to.”

The settlement has been on the table for several months after Pegasus Partners filed a lawsuit in Hudson County Superior Court in October alleging that Hoboken allowed Union City to interfere with the height and scope of the project at 1200-1330 Madison St.

The resolution before the council, sponsored by 5th Ward Councilman Phil Cohen, says that Block 106 would not exceed 145 feet in height above sea level, would allow them to increase their units from 701 to 801, require the developer to pay $2 million in community benefits, and an annual service charge equal to 10 percent of annual gross revenue.

Councilman-at-Large Jim Doyle acknowledged that this has been a long, arduous process, but said that he could not support an outcome that takes union labor off the table.

His colleague, Councilman-at-Large Joe Quintero, said this was a very difficult decision and was unsure how he would vote at that moment, while 4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos said that they shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that Union City put them in this predicament.

“When we adopted the original plan, all of these things were included in that, so as we’re there going through the litigation process, for us to try and reach an end before it goes further, this is part of that unfortunate decision that we’ll have to make just to settle the lawsuit,” Ramos stated.

” … When seven council members approved the project originally (it initially passed 8-1 in July 2020), it had all those requirements in it: it didn’t have a PILOT, required union labor, had more commercial spaces. Had all those things in there, but unfortunately, with the lawsuit that Union City placed upon us, we’re missing a lot of those components to this settlement.”

1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco didn’t mince words on that point, stating that “the selfish interests of Union City” led them to this point and that Mayor Brian Stack (also the state Senator of the 33rd Legislative District) “is committing environmental terror to the palisades.”

“We needed to work around that and it is an unfair deal for Hoboken, but it’s the best deal we could come to. And to say we don’t believe in union labor, that’s just putting words in my mouth. I was raised with a family of union labor. I know each of my colleagues believe that and I know the mayor does … And to Mayor Stack: stop destroying the Palisades.”

2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher also laid the blame solely on Union City.

“Literally state Senator Stack has threatened to change the law to not allow development above a certain height in Hoboken, which will literally destroy our local economy,” she said regarding the Palisades Cliffs Protection Act, which is currently stalled in Trenton.

“And will negatively impact all union labor on every property. He’s maniacal about this project about protecting some sort of view on a project up on a mountain and he’s literally, literally threatened to change a state law to stop development in Hoboken.”

She added that she, DeFusco, Ramos, and 6th Ward Councilwoman Jen Giattino have sent state legislators letters letting them know they are vehemently opposed to the bill getting approved.

Cohen pointed out that this litigation has been stalled for years and that taking this litigation off the board would be a win for the city and for labor unions like 32BJ SEIU, who will have labor at other projects.

The measure passed 6-3, with Fisher, Doyle, and Council President Emily Jabbour voting no.

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  1. It is again shocking to find out at the final vote of the City Council that Bhalla’s rubber-stamps has not actual read or understands what they have been told to vote for.
    The years of slipshod developer agreements makes you wonder what else they missed.

  2. Does Doyle use union contractors on HIS own multiple properties?
    Does Doyle provide housing for veterans?
    Does Doyle build LEED?
    Does Doyle provide electric car charging?
    Does Doyle ever support anything but housing for wealthy white people that sell for millions?

    Maybe the answer is Doyle only cares about GREEN when it keeps his redevelopment lawyer pals getting millions in legal contracts?

    Jim, if we are boring you, why not step down? Your vacation home ( and at you stool Finnegans) are calling you home…

    • Let’s ask the more critical question – why does the developer insist on NOT using union labor? Efficiency? Flexibility? Cost effectiveness? Our council is laden with bureaucrats who are unfamiliar with those concepts, and that lack of expertise is making Hoboken a more expensive place to live. This is not anti – union, this is beware the technocrat who has never been required to balance a checkbook.

  3. How many times are we expected to accept that this is “the best we can do…?” First Monarch and DPW. Then Union Dry Dock, and now this. Are we simply poor planners/negotiators? Are we so determined to have other Hudson County official like us that we let them run rough shod on us? We, the people of Hoboken, are paying a steep price for this ineptitude, yet we keep going to their coffees and voting for an administration that can’t get it right. Time for change.

  4. Can we get Brian Stack to review the PILOT agreement to make sure Hoboken is protected ?

    Th disaster of the Seven Seventy PILOT which exempted them from contributing to Hoboken schools and the other development agreement flubs by Bhalla makes it clear he shouldn’t be trusted

  5. Then call me a heretic.

    Hoboken population density is already extreme, our services are maxed out– try riding the 126 bus in rush hour. Why is Hoboken cutting deals to jam in more over scaled, ugly development? Who benefits? Not Hoboken residents. The City can’t build an amenity like a public pool for the people who already live here, yet we keep churning development, downgrading residents’ quality of life, creating more garbage to feed our thriving rat population. Sure, pack ’em in.

    Let Stack change state law to stop development in Hoboken. Applause, applause. Go, Stack!

    • It is apparently much more important to Ravi Bhalla to maintain his political favor with Brian Stack than do the right thing for Hoboken residents.