Charles Poggi, the owner of the Poggi Press site in the northern end of the city, is blasting the administration over their municipal project complex, though the city is calling it a “once-in-a-century” opportunity.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“Last week, residents expressed a general feeling of hostility and distrust toward the city’s proposal. They voiced concern about how it would affect their quality of life,” Poggi said in a statement yesterday.
“Yet, the administration offered no answers to the questions posed and provided no transparency about the project, including how long the plan was in the works and how much it would cost taxpayers.”
Evidently and expectedly, Poggi was not impressed with the municipal complex plan, that includes a new Department of Public Works garage and public safety headquarters, that officials reviewed last week on a Zoom call, as HCV first reported.
The large-scale project, which would also include a court house, council chambers, and a rooftop garden, among other things, would require the city to acquire the Poggi press site, located at 1501 Adams St.
They could potentially do so with eminent domain if the two sides can’t agree upon a number, though that’s not an option unless the council approves a related $44 million bond ordinance that passed 5-4 on first reading last month.
The measure has already been carried for tomorrow evening’s council meeting, the second meeting in a row where that has been the case. Bonds require six affirmative votes to pass.
At the moment, it doesn’t appear that any of those four no votes are changing, with 4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos telling HCV the concept “might be the worst urban planning in the history of urban planning” after last week’s Zoom meeting.
According to Poggi, the “monstrous government building” would violate the North End Redevelopment Plan that was approved in February 2021, since it calls for a mix of commercial, retail, and residential space, along with linear green space.
He added that the Bijou Properties proposal that came to light just under a year ago that included a DPW garage, a City Hall annex, and mixed-use art and retail space made a lot more sense.
“The city turned down the Bijou project because it said the plan was too intense for the neighborhood; so instead, they want to erect an even more intense, city-owned building that provides no retail or commercial space, no affordable housing and no open space,” quipped Poggi.
Poggi also noted that he had prepared two proposals for the city: one 17-story proposal with 550 units and a second 14-story proposal with 254 units.
City spokeswoman Marilyn Baer argued that the current development design favored by the administration is far more realistic and beneficial that the initial Poggi proposal.
“It’s unfortunate that Mr. Poggi is once again attempting to argue that his three 17-story residential towers, that are massively out of scale with the rest of the neighborhood, are somehow a better course of action than what is proposed by the city,” she said in response.
“The interests of the city and our residents will be much better served with an efficiently designed public works facility and a centralized public safety complex. In our view, we also have a once-in-a-century opportunity to provide very robust community spaces with modern amenities. We recognize and appreciate that Mr. Poggi would prefer to sell his land to a private developer for a residential project.”
She continued that the Poggi Press legacy could live on through the new public safety HQ, senior center, new library, and other community amenities that accompany the plan, also indicating that the city remains hopeful that a fair price can be found for both sides.