Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said that the city has no current plans to use eminent domain to take One Journal Square from the Kushner Companies during a community meeting last night.
During yesterday’s community forum at Hudson County Community College, the mayor answered numerous questions from New Journal Square Community Association President Bill Armbruster about ongoing and stalled development projects in and around Journal Square.
Eventually, Armbruster asked the Mayor about the lawsuit filed by the Kushners claiming that the city was in breach of contract, and also personally suing the Mayor for defamation.
The mayor began by explaining the basis of the lawsuit.
“We defaulted the Kushner Company and they subsequently sued us on the default. The default was in the redeveloper agreement with the [Jersey City Redevelopment Agency],” he stated.
“It has historically been a rare thing for the city to default somebody, but this is not the only case nor will it be the only case going forward as we have made a concerted effort and decision to be stricter with developers that once they ask for some sort of help from the JCRA we expect them to move forward on building the projects.
He then specifically cited the One Journal Square project, saying that it was stalled for 10 plus years and “eventually came to a place where the rubber met the road and we defaulted them.”
Back in April, Hudson County View first reported that the city and the Kushner Family were sparring over a tax break for the Kushners to develop the $800 million One Journal Square Project.
The next day, Jersey City Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Diana Jeffrey explained how the firm, which formerly employed Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, defaulted on their agreement.
While explaining the developments from last year leading up to the eventual default, the mayor mentioned that while the city’s stance on tax abatements is to use less of them going forward the Kushners actually received a higher abatement to continue to develop One Journal Square.
“The initial proposal from the Kushners was a more generous tax abatement than the initial project [to build] Tower number two. Our position in the administration at the time was ‘you are not the first ones to be building here’,” Fulop continued.
“The first building has not worked perfectly, but it has worked. So any sort of subsidies discussed obviously would have to be less than the first one and not more than the first one because we’re looking toward using [abatements] less, not more.”
After the default, the Kushers sued Fulop and the city, claiming that he was penalizing the family because of his personal sentiments towards the President.
“The truth of the matter, regardless of my personal sentiment, our goal is ultimately moving the city forward, treating everybody exactly the same regardless of what your background is.”
Since then, Kushner Cos. has threatened to sue Fulop for defamation, but he did not seem particularly concerned on that front.
“It’s more of a defamation lawsuit because they’re upset about a comment that I made with regards to them being a victim in some situations, and then looking to benefit in other situations from networking and leveraging their family.”
Furthermore, Fulop was adamant that the city would not settle with the Kushners.
“We haven’t done anything wrong. We have acted responsibly throughout the process, and I don’t see the city looking to settle anything because we haven’t done anything improper. Our objective is to see a building built there that is beneficial to the entire city.”
Armbruster wrapped up the discussion by asking the Mayor if the city would consider using eminent domain to take One Journal Square away from the Kushners.
“The answer is that is not on the table today,” Fulop said.
The full meeting, which streamed live on our Facebook page, can be viewed below: