New Hoboken hotel lawsuit alleges that $3.2M in givebacks ‘amounts to a slush fund for the city’

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Despite the city scrapping their previous redevelopment agreement, two property owners near the proposed Hoboken Hilton Hotel still aren’t on board, saying in a new lawsuit that the new $3.2 million in developer givebacks “amounts to a slush fund for the city.”

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“The 2019 Redevelopment Agreement and the Escrow Agreement are a transparent attempt to circumvent the Court’s opinion and order in the Prior Litigation by creating what amounts to a slush fund for the City to use in the future as it deems fit,” Hoboken Land Building, L.P. and Hoboken Holdings, L.P. said in a lawsuit filed in Hudson County Superior Court on August 2nd.

The same two entities filed suit back in November, claiming that the $4.85 million in proposed community givebacks were “a blatant quid pro quo.”

As it turns out, Hudson County Superior Court Judge Anthony D’Elia agreed with them, ruling in March that such a plan would set precedent for municipal agreements that would lead to “abuse and fraud.”

On May 15th, 2019, the Hoboken City Council responded by rescinding the 2018 Redevelopment Agreement that had passed easily back in October, at the time paving the way for Mayor Ravi Bhalla to sign the aforementioned deal.

From there, the council approved new terms for redevelopment on June 19th, though according to the suit, this deal was actually worse for the average Hoboken resident and/or commuter.

“Like the 2018 Redevelopment Plan Agreement, the 2019 Redevelopment Plan Amendment would increase traffic congestion, impair view sheds, reduce light, increase shadows and otherwise detrimentally affect the properties of Plaintiffs and other property owners and the people of Hoboken,” the court document says.

“In fact, the 2019 Redevelopment Plan Amendment would result in even greater adverse impacts than the 2018 Redevelopment Plan Amendment.”

The suit is seeking to make the latest redevelopment agreement null in void, as well as asking the city to cover attorney’s fees and costs of suit, as well as any other relief the court deems to be just and equitable.

In a statement, the KMS Development Partners, the developer for the hotel project, pushed back against the allegations being made this time, noting that they are confident the court will not have any issues with the 2019 redevelopment plan.

“The basis for this second legal filing is fundamentally flawed and grossly misrepresents the terms of the 2019 Redevelopment Agreement. It is designed to hold us and the City hostage in order for the plaintiffs to push for their own development interests,” they said.

“For example, this latest filing claims that the ‘city controlled escrow account to be used by unspecified and undetermined purposes to be determined upon in the future.’ This is inaccurate. The 2019 Redevelopment Agreement clearly provides on Page 65, a specific explanation consistent with the Judge’s previous ruling for the utilization of these escrow funds. These funds are to be used for a narrowly defined set of uses that are specifically related to ‘the impact of the Hotel on infrastructure, the community and community services.'”

They further state that the agreement provides eight examples of public purposes for the escrow funds to be used such as flood control, enhanced storm retention, open space and improved bicycle and pedestrian access.

Furthermore, they called Hoboken Land, L.P. “duplicitous” for filing another lawsuit, given that they are attempting to build 20 stories of residential units on their property that falls within the Post Office Redevelopment Plan.

13 COMMENTS

  1. “Furthermore, they called Hoboken Land, L.P. “duplicitous” for filing another lawsuit, given that they are attempting to build 20 stories of residential units on their property that falls within the Post Office Redevelopment Plan.”

    Shouldn’t this point be mentioned in the opening paragraphs of the article instead of buried in the last one? Pro tip: journalism involves doing more than simply typing up a plaintiffs’ press release.

    • Hey, so couple things: no press releases involved here, the lawsuit is there for anyone to read themselves. The fact that it’s two entities suing, the same two as last time, makes it pretty apparent these aren’t just private citizens. Each side got quite a few graphs to explain their perspective, as usual. Finally, I’d argue building on the post office property isn’t duplicitous at all in this case, given that there are zero givebacks involved with that project.

      • John, don’t you know that you are always supposed to write stories that are completely slanted towards whatever Ravi’s agenda is. You have to always make Ravi or Ravi’s side the the central point of any story you print.

        • What does my initial comment have to do with Bhalla? I’m commenting on the two property owners, and how one of them has seemingly tried to keep their own development plans a secret.

          These sorts of silly comments don’t help your cause, btw.

  2. Yeah, who’s surprised? The guy who destroyed the long, hard-fought Reform Movement is using a divide and conquer approach to buying votes. Pupie is headed to prison for a lot less.

    • LOL, what? Mayor Bhalla has been and continues to be reform, unlike Tiff and 4th-place Jen who flip flopped from good government to selling out to the Sacco-Ramos ticket.

      Let me give you a clue: sadly, you haven’t noticed you’re living in the past. Perhaps people used to care about this type of BS spin but Hoboken has changed and left you behind. Your arguments don’t register or make sense to voters today. Sorry to break the news.

      • If Ravi is Reform, then Pupie is the Pope. You can take your second job Ravi and all his money scams. The only Ravi “reform” he’s pushing: political operative hires in the mayor’s office, race baiting, higher taxes, higher spending, deals with the Russo Clan and more money into his pocket pimping out Hoboken. I could go on all day but you have to actually try and rationalize yours away.

        Oh and stealing thousands of dollars from an employee is not reform either. The New Jersey Supreme Court says so!

        • You just proved my point, exactly. A litany of Vision Media/DeFusco campaign talking points that are in some ways are actually rather quaint, harkening back to a day when Hoboken was a different place and people might have been susceptible to this sort of BS spin.

          It’s kind of sad to see someone who time has passed by, out of step with the times, angrily clinging to what used to work back in the day.

      • You mean Hoboken residents are too stupid to understand Ravi Bhalla’s second job with a Republican law firm and how he makes it rain legal contracts down the hill? Guess we’ll see about that. Say, you finish counting the runoff referendum votes yet?

        • You always mention that Bhalla’s lawfirm is republican. We all know you’d be happier if it were an alt-right lawfirm, but the ignorance of the law on the alt-right makes that hard to arrange.

  3. Bhalla isn’t reform, don’t kid yourself. Neither are DeFusco and Ramos. They are different faces of the same – willing to sell out Hoboken to big development and big unions for future political gain. Although Ravi wants the lines to be drawn like they were for dawn: us vs them, reform vs corrupt, good bs bad, Ravi ain’t no dawn and the lines aren’t drawn like that anymore. Jen Peter Tiff and Doyle are still closest to reform yet given the split have had to work closely with others with less scruples. Doyle gives Ravi credibility like Jen and Tiff give Defusco and Ramos. And where is emily in all this? So far she is just a rubber stamp for the mayor. And voting against the ethics law was a dumb move. I guess we will see how she votes on the big development coming down the pipe.

  4. It is time to get rid of DeFusco and Ramos.

    Sad that Jen and Tiff have willing deformed reform to cover for them. Maybe it’s time for them to go too ?

    I guess Peter bailed because he could no longer justify the their lack of scruples.

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