The owner of the valuable Poggi Press land in Hoboken is still against the city using the land for a proposed public safety headquarters with eminent domain possible and a $44 million bond vote lingering.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“Why am I being targeted?” Remember, there were other viable properties that the City was looking at for the DPW garage. There’s no reason why those other properties can’t house the fire department, the police department, community center or the proposed library,” Charles Poggi said at last night’s council meeting.
“The common thread is that those other properties are owned by large developers with oversized political influence while I have none. And I’m just one man. I’m the easy target. I’m just an individual, just like you.”
As part of the Monarch settlement with Ironstate Development, the city will have to find a new location for their Department of Public Works garage, currently located at 265 Observer Highway, by November 2024 .
Ironstate plans on making the current site a mixed-use development with roughly 30,000 square feet of commercial space and 360 residential units.
Last summer, the council explored several sites, including the Poggi site at 1501 Adams St., which the mayor’s office confirmed last week was part of a plan for a new public safety HQ for the police and fire departments, along with the office of emergency management, as HCV first reported.
In his State of the City Address on Monday evening, Bhalla spoke in favor of the plan for the first time, with former Police Chief Kenneth Ferrante tweeting support. Today, the city announced Ferrante as their new public safety director with a $155,000 annual salary.
Evidently, Poggi was not impressed with the mayor’s speech.
“The mayor didn’t say that he and his administration came to me last summer and told me that I needed to find a developer who was willing to build the DPW garage on my property or have my family’s land confiscated by eminent domain. Rather than face losing my family’s land to condemnation, I did exactly what the city asked,” he also told the council.
“While the mayor’s new proposal expands well beyond the DPW garage, I believe that there are creative ways to accomplish the city’s needs without stripping me of my family’s land and pushing me out of Hoboken. But the city hasn’t taken the time to investigate those other options before choosing to expel me and my family from our property.”
Just before the council meeting, Bhalla sent a lengthy letter to the governing body asking for their support on the project, which would also include 600 parking spots, a community center, and a new library.
He also explained why the city rejected both of Poggi’s proposals, the first being a 17-story proposal and the second concept for a 14-story building.
“In a last-ditch effort to continue to develop the property for residential use, Poggi’s developer proposed a 14-story building that included 254 residential units. In this iteration, which included no public open space, the allocated footprint for the City was still deemed insufficient for the public works garage,” he wrote.
“This proposal was also rejected because it required the City to purchase its portion of the land for what would likely be well over $10 million dollars and pay for the cost to build the public works garage. The redeveloper also still required a PILOT.”
Ultimately, approved the second reading of an ordinance that would allow the use of eminent domain by a vote of 5-4, with Council members Mike DeFusco, Tiffanie Fisher, Ruben Ramos, and Jen Giattino voting no.
The second reading of the bond ordinance was carried, though was approved by that same tally on first reading and in order for a bond to be approved, six council members must vote in the affirmative.
“Instead of the tens of millions of dollars that we are projected to spend just to keep these dilapidated facilities in operation over the next decade, this taxpayer money would be much better suited to build one, new and modern facility, as opposed to other alternatives such as building new, separate police and fire headquarters at their current locations, or keeping the status quo,” Bhalla also said in his letter to the council.