A lawsuit filed in Hudson County Superior Court says that the Hoboken Hilton Hotel’s planned $4.85 million in community givebacks are “a blatant quid pro quo” and therefore “contrary to law.”
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
The lawsuit, filed in Hudson County Superior Court by Hoboken Land Building, L.P. and Hoboken Holdings, L.P. on November 15th, alleges that the resolution approving the agreement, along with the separate Redevelopment Agreement, are “arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable, contrary to use of sound planning, and contrary to public policy.”
The first entity owns the historic property at 1 Newark St. that bears the same name, while the second entity owns the building at 2 Hudson Place – the Baker Waterfront Plaza – according to public records.
The city’s post office redevelopment plan was approved by the council back in April of last year and the plaintiffs argue in the suit that KMS Development Partners was given too much leeway to deviate from that plan.
“KMS sought substantial changes and modifications to the Redevelopment Plan in order to substantially increase the size of the hotel permitted by the Redevelopment Plan,” including upping the maximum gross floor area by 20 percent and the maximum number of hotel rooms by 25 percent.
The court filing also notes that despite a public rift between Mayor Ravi Bhalla, who is named in the lawsuit along with KMS and the City of Hoboken, the council approved the hotel deal with KMS – complete with $4.85 million in community givebacks – on October 17th.
“The giveback payments constitute an exaction unrelated to legitimate land use concerns generated by the redevelopment of the Subject Property” and “constitute a blatant quid pro quo for the city’s acquiescence to the Redevelopment Agreement.”
Another major allegation made in the lawsuit says that the City of Hoboken “is without the legal authority” to ensure givebacks to a non-governmental entity such as the Hoboken Public Education Foundation.
Such a practice would promote “favoritism, cronyism, lack of accountability, lack of diversity” and is unlawful.
The HPEF is set to receive $1 million from KMS as part of the agreement, where the developer is distributing all of the giveback money directly, not the city.
The plaintiffs are seeking attorney’s fees and cost of suit, as well as “other relief as well as may be just and equitable.”
The mayor’s office declined to comment on pending litigation.