A Hoboken developer is again suing the city, this time over failing to release appraisals for the police station at 106 Hudson St., allegedly not receiving a response to an Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request after nearly six months.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“The emails produced by Hoboken on May 18, 2023 strongly indicate that Hoboken ordered an Appraisal to be delivered in December 2022, and that an Appraisal should be available for public inspection,” the 13-page, two-count lawsuit says.
“Alternatively, if the order discussed in the emails was canceled or left unfulfilled, such cancellation or other communication between Hoboken and Lasser Sussman regarding an Appraisal should exist and would be responsive to the Request.”
Represented by three attorneys from Newark-based law firm Gibbons P.C., Just Block 112, LLC – a subsidiary of Pegasus Partners – indicated that they filed an OPRA request on January 27th.
They sought “a copy of all appraisals performed on 106 Hudson Street (Block 212.01, Lots 4 through 11) (the ‘Property’), together with certain other government records related to any such appraisals.”
They also sought a copy of a November 2022 resolution approved by the city council awarding a $9,500 contract for Lasser Sussman Associates LLC for appraisal services, all correspondence between the company, and Community Development Director Chris Brown, any orders or invoices related to the property between October 2022 until the present day, and all appraisals for the property.
In connection to their lawsuit over the Western Edge project, which received approval from the planning board in May following a judge’s ruling, Just Block 112 believed Hoboken ordered the appraisal to be completed by December.
While the council voted against having the planning board determine if the zone in question was in need of redevelopment in April 2022, the exact same measure passed the following month, as HCV first reported.
Then in November, the governing body voted to designate an area in the 1st Ward that included the police station as a redevelopment zone, following the determination of the planning board.
According to the court filing, Just Block 112 did not receive a substantive response until May 18th, though emails between Brown and Lasser Sussman only spanned one week in November, despite asking for those records through the present day, and still no appraisals.
“JB112 has a clear interest in the requested records, as they relate directly to materials discussed at the November 7, 2022 court conference in the Redevelopment Litigation, and because JB112 is a developer that has an interest in property values in Hoboken,” the suit says.
” … Particularly for prominent sites such as the Property, and may have an interest in purchasing the Property if available based on the value determined by an Appraisal. This interest outweighs any interest in keeping the requested records confidential.”
Just Block 112 is alleging the city violated OPRA and common law by not answering their request in it’s entirety either in seven business days, which is standard for OPRA requests in New Jersey, or after the extensions they agreed to through July 19th.
Back in March, the council approved a 30-year payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT), which does not included a union labor deal, to settle the Block 106 portions of their proposed development.
The resolution for the material terms of a settlement included not exceeding 145 feet in height above sea level, increasing their units from 701 to 801, requiring the developer to pay $2 million in community benefits, and an annual service charge equal to 10 percent of annual gross revenue.
City spokeswoman Marilyn Baer said the city does not comment on pending litigation.