The Hoboken City Council is set to vote on executing eminent domain on Union Dry Dock and the 1st part of a potential Monarch settlement at next week’s regularly scheduled meeting.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“Protecting our precious waterfront is of the utmost importance to my administration. I strongly believe it should be preserved for open space, not large-scale residential development or a heavy refueling station,” Mayor Ravi Bhalla said in a statement.
“If we don’t move forward expeditiously, we could lose the once in a lifetime opportunity to finally create public parks at these two waterfront sites. I ask the City Council for unanimous support on the Monarch settlement and eminent domain authorization for Union Dry Dock.”
The first is a resolution authorizing a proposed settlement of the Monarch dispute that would prevent two eleven story buildings on Hoboken’s northern waterfront.
As HCV first reported, the agreement that would transfer the Monarch development area to the city and pave way for the redevelopment of the Department of Public Works garage site.
The DPW garage is located at 256 Observer Highway, and along with providing a full renovation of the facility, the Applied Development Company would also agree to building 4,000 square feet of retail along the thoroughfare, as well as 264,000-square-foot transit-oriented rental building – which would dedicate at least 11 percent of their units to affordable housing.
However, the whole development would only be made possible once the terms of a redevelopment agreement is approved by the council at a later date.
The second is an ordinance which would authorize the City to make an offer to New York Waterway for the purchase of Union Dry Dock for the purpose of a public park, and acquiring this property through eminent domain if the parties fail to agree on a purchase price for the property.
According to city officials, the appraised value if the Union Dry Dock property is $13.1 million: the price that would have to be paid to acquire the property if the council approves the second reading of the ordinance on September 4th.
Bhalla previously announced that he would seek to move forward on another eminent domain proceeding (the first one was approved in November 2017 before being rescinded the following April) last month.
NY Waterway had a lawsuit against the city revolving around Union Dry Dock dismissed on Monday, with that wrinkle overshadowed by the fact that an attorney for the bi-state transit organization, Anthony Bocchi, compared Hoboken police to “gestapo.”
He apologized for his remarks earlier today, indicating that “I have the utmost respect for all law enforcement officers.”
Both issues are critical for the 2nd Ward, where incumbent Tiffanie Fisher is being challenged by Nora Martinez Debenedetto this November, and Fisher agreed with the mayor in that both matters should be put to bed as soon as possible.
“The Monarch and Union Dry Dock projects have been threatening precious open space on the waterfront for the last decade and it is a fight I have personally been involved with since 2011,” she said in a statement.
“Our local government now has the opportunity to work together to put an end to this battle and I am hopeful we can finally reach a solution that will serve the best interests for everyone in Hoboken.”
Martinez Debenedetto has previously been critical that Fisher may be unable to vote on the Monarch settlement due to a potential conflict of interest – the councilwoman has previously recused herself in the matter and is therefore not expected to vote on it next week.
“This settlement would stop the building of two out-of-scale 11 story towers, and would instead replace this ill-advised plan with the opportunity to create open space that is more true to the character of our northern waterfront,” the challenger said in her own statement.
“I am calling on the eligible Council members to approve this agreement at the upcoming August 7 Council meeting,” also stressing the importance of turning the waterfront land earmarked for the Monarch project into public green space.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information.