Jersey City Rejects Settlement Offer Regarding 6th Street Embankment

By • May 13th, 2011 • Category: Blog, News, Politics
Share

The latest twist in the ongoing fight over the future of the 6th Street Embankment in Downtown Jersey City occurred Wednesday night, as the City Council unanimously rejected a settlement offer put forth by developer Steve Hyman, who owns the properties with his wife.

“[The proposed settlement can] end the disputes and litigation that have continued for over five years,” the April 12 letter from Hyman’s attorney Daniel Horgan to the city reads. “These terms give consideration to the interests of the city and to all parties, but the overarching goal is to provide for the meaningful and productive use of over 25 acres of property in the heart of Jersey City that can help the city and its taxpayers in these most difficult economic times.”

Since purchasing the six elevated blocks in 2005, Hyman has been engaged in a number of legal battles with the city over his desire to develop parts of the property, as the city and Downtown activists continue to fight to preserve the land for a public park, and potentially a light rail extension.

Hyman, who has spent millions on the epic legal battle with Jersey City, often makes his case in economic terms, criticizing the city’s willingness to spend massive amounts on the various cases, as well as its unwillingness to allow him to bring new properties — and new property taxes — on line.

Hyman’s offer to the council Wednesday was a compromise deal he has been hinting at for months, and it comes about a year after he rejected the city’s plan to buy the entire collection of properties for up to $7.6 million. Under the proposal, Hyman would have kept four of the elevated parcels and sold the city two of them for $10 million, with the stipulation that the city could not transfer the deeds to another developer and would have to use the two blocks for a public park.

In addition, the city would have to create a Redevelopment Plan for Hyman’s four parcels, as well as a number of land parcels west of the Embankment under the Turnpike extension that are currently owned by Conrail, the railroad company that originally sold the Embankment properties to Hyman.

“The Conrail property has an important relationship to the sound redevelopment planning of the Embankment property, and is uniquely suited as a hub that can be served by mass transit to permit significant levels of urban development,” the proposed settlement reads.

The proposal requested the right to build 1,800 residential units on the four Embankment properties, as well as 4,000 residential units and 2 million square feet of commercial space on the Conrail properties “without any restrictions under programs of historic preservation, or otherwise, whatsoever.” It also proposed using part of the Conrail properties for a possible light rail line that would connect the Journal Square PATH station and the current light rail tracks near 18th Street and the Hoboken border.

The administration says it is glad the council rejected what it dubs a “preposterous” settlement.

“We will continue to fight for the preservation of the Embankment for the creation of a world-class elevated park and a transportation corridor, while remaining open to any reasonable settlement proposals,” city spokesperson Jennifer Morrill says. “Unfortunately this wasn’t one.”

Proposed Embankment Settlement



Like what you've read here? Please consider making a donation or becoming a sustaining member. As a grassroots news organization, we rely on community support -- as well as paid advertising -- to survive.

is the former co-founder of the Jersey City Independent; he now works for a public-policy nonprofit in Trenton.
Email this author | All posts by

  • Anonymous

    Too bad an agreement can’t be reached that results in this embankment being used for something.Right now it sits like dead skunk in the middle of the road in Downtown Jersey City.Friends of mine who have visited me in Jersey City sometimes ask me what it is. I tell them it is a tomb for crooked Jersey City and Hudson County politicians. “but there must be a thousand of them in there!” Enough said.

    • Anonymous

      AMEN.

  • Anonymous

    STEVEN FULOP WHO MADE YOU THE ARBITER OF REASONABLENESS?  IF YOU WANT TO BE MAYOR, YOU WILL HAVE TO REPRESENT THE WHOLE CITY AND NOT JUST WARD E.  THE MAYOR SAID SOMETHING SIMILAR TO THAT SEVERAL YEARS AGO.  THIS IS A GOOD PLAN FOR THE CITY.  IT YIELDS TAXES INSTEAD OF PAYABLES ALONG WITH A LOT OF OTHER GREAT ATTRIBUTES.  IF YOU HAVE A REASONABLE PLAN, LETS HEAR IT NOW INSTEAD OF JUST BEING BLINDLY CRITICAL. MAYBE IT WILL EVEN HELP YOU GET ELECTED MAYOR SOMEDAY.  CONTINUING THIS MULTIMILLION DOLLAR CRAZY LITIGATION HAS AND IS GETTING THE CITY NOWHERE EXCEPT FURTHER IN DEBT AND CLOSER TO BEING DEVASTATED IN COURT.  

  • Anonymous

    Jennifer I understand that you say what you are told to say but hopefully in your own words.   WELL THESE ARE MY WORDS, “THE CITY WOULD NOT RECOGNIZE A GOOD DEAL IF IT WAS DELIVERED FROM HEAVEN BY THE ALMIGHTY ON A CHARIOT ON A BEAUTIFUL DAY!”

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WYNOCJNMOKTDLK7ZEBHAFHU5UA Janine

      “The proposal requested the right to build 1,800 residential units on the
      four Embankment properties, as well as 4,000 residential units and 2
      million square feet of commercial space on the Conrail properties.”

      That’s more like a deal delivered strait out of hell. 

      • Anonymous

        Thank you for your description of hell.  Having not been there I can only accept your view of it.  I guess with all that development down there they do not have to borrow money to fund retirement, cancel July 4th fireworks, close the museum, lay off City workers but they can fix the steps to City Hall.  My hell is people like you telling me what to do with my property or just trying to steal it.  I am the wrong scape goat.  There are plenty of goats in City Hall that are responsible for this situation.  They refused to buy it for $2,100,000 in 2004 but have spent millions trying to overturn the sale so that they could buy it for you for $3,000,000.  In other words the money wasted could have paid to acquire the property back in 2004.  On the other hand, the project envisioned would be good for Jersey City and you would be comfortable because it could then be your hell on earth.

  • Ryan Wilder

    For all those that believe an additional 5800 livable units is a good idea… you are out of your mind… Jersey City has trouble supporting the people that already live here. 

    Like it or not… Ward E produces a majority of the income for this town… giving Fulop a pretty big voice… I am pleased with their decision to pursue this as a green space.

    • Anonymous

      I do not understand your thought process.  How does Jersey City support people.  I thought Jersey City was supported primarily with collected taxes and then just wastes enough money each year so that they have to use mirrors to close the budget.  If you added more people in Ward E, then there should be more money to support Jersey City since Ward E produces the majority of the income for this town and more development would produce more money.  Now on the flip side if Jersey City bought or condemned this property for say the $7.7 million as they tried to last summer and then built that park for another $7.7 million so that $15.4 million, if they could borrow it, would be added to the long term debt and spent another $3.6 million to maintain, insure and defend this open space annually and collected none of the approximately $48 million in taxes annually on the development because you want a park, who would go there to justify it and what purposes would it provide and could Jersey City afford it.  ASK FULOP THAT ONE.  NOT REASONABLE WOULD BE THE ANSWER!

      • Anonymous

        Ward E is the home of the Embankment and subsequent redevelopment – Fulop and his constitutes should have the most input on this decision… but they don’t – the council voted to reject the offer.

        The JC annual budget is much bigger than the cost of this park.  The up front cost would be floated on a 30 year municipal bond and if they were smart, a five year trust for maintenance would included (maybe more) – using the figures above, that would be $7.7mm to buy, $7.7mm to renovate, $16.8mm for five years of maintenance, totaling $32.2mm.  With simple amortization at 2% (a more than reasonable muni rate – extreme really), the city will pay $1.4m a year for the next five years to both own and maintain the park.  At the end of five years, the city will be well on its way to releasing all the wonderful waterfront tax abatements.  Btw – $3.8mm a year to maintain is strong… probably more in the realm of $2-2.5mm.  The Embankment purchase cant be evaluated like balancing a monthly check book.  

        Aside from this debate there are sooo many other things that are worthy of anger and frustration…. what we pay for schools and resulting output, tax abatements that only aggravate our tax woes, etc.  For once the city is fighting for something that we need – large green space downtown, a contribution to home owner value, and providing something that attracts people outside of cheaper rent.

        • Anonymous

          The numbers I put in were hypothetical.  For argument sake lets make believe, since that is what Jersey City is doing, that it is at least twice what you calculate per year or $2.8M.  Do you really believe JC is capable of borrowing the money at 2%?  There would be no income from the property and the City that can not fix the steps going into City Hall is going to spend that kind of money yearly instead of getting the $48M in ratables that I project the development would yield annually.  

          • Anonymous

             I’m impressed the word ‘ratables’ was used correctly.

          • Anonymous

            I am glad I can impress you the whole thing depresses me.  If you would like to meet to discuss this further, I am available.  

            ratables - definition of ratables by the Free Online Dictionary …
            Income from property taxes: netted the city over $30 million in new ratables. 2. Properties or buildings, especially those used for commercial purposes, …www.thefreedictionary.com/ratables - Cached - Similar►

  • Anonymous

    this is truly sad and upsetting that our neighbors who believe in trying to do something positive for our city and press the city to enforce laws are subject to what is described by the resolution as a SLAPP lawsuit putting their homes and savings at risk.

    while the city has been moving in a positive direction on preserving and reusing the Embankment for open space, the precedent may have been set when the city failed to defend similar flimsy litigation filed by same attorney on behalf of the owner of 111 First St — instead capitulating by turning a proposed 8 story structure in the building’s courtyard into a vertical land grab of more than 60 stories.

    the attorney filing this SLAPP suit supposedly protects the interests of the residents of West New York serving as their town attorney.

    the lead advocates for the 111 capitulation and subsequent dismantling of city zoning along with the Toll Brothers Amendments to the PAD Plan -

    -  former councilman Mariano Vega, Jr. plead guilty to corruption charges that embodied the play to pay culture of Jersey City politics and

    -  former councilman Steve Lipski (recently appointed head of the JC Economic Development Corporation) was the recipient of excessive / over legal limit campaign contributions from the plaintiff and appeared to publicly support the plaintiff’s demolition application before the zoning board last fall along with former business administrator Brian O’Reilly.

    if a city cannot protect its residents and enforce its own laws, what is our future?

     

    • Anonymous

      There are consequences to your actions and your neighbors plight is because they conspired to rob me of my civil rights and property.  You look to rob me of my friends who are all wonderful human beings.  Get a life!

  • Anonymous

    •~’
    .

    PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD
    HARSIMUS STEM

    EMBANKMENT
    PRESERVATION COALITION

    I

    July 25,
    2005

    Mayor Jerramiah
    T. Healy

    City Hall

    280 Grove Street Jersey
    City, NJ 07302

     

    Re: PRR
    Harsimus Stem Embankment

     

    Dear Mayor
    Healy,

     

    We appreciate
    that you and your staff,
    Carl Czaplicki and
    David Donnelly, met with
    Stephen Gucciardo and
    me earlier this evening to discuss the July
    13th sale by Conrail to
    eight LLCs.

    Thank you for agreeing
    the following:

     

    • Jack Curley
    will continue with the
    appraisals that are being conducted
    by Hugh McGuire and Paul
    Beisser. The figure arrived at through these appraisals is
    critical for potential funders.

     

    • You
    offered to ask the Surface Transportation Board
    for a determination as to
    whether Conrail needed to abandon the Harsimus Branch through
    federal regulations. I will be meeting with the Coalition’s abandonment
    attorney Charles Montange, this week and
    will draft a letter for your
    consideration based on his advice.

     

    • I would like
    to reiterate a few points made in our discussion
    and a few others we did not get a chance
    to raise:

     

    • We believe
    that there are no absolute protections for the
    Embankment as a historic-landmark.
    Whether a landmark is preserved or demolished ultimately depends on political
    will. Charles Scott, Principal Historic Preservation
    Specialist at the State Historic Preservation Office
    (609-633-2396, cscott@dep.state.nj.us
    ) is an authority on
    historic transportation sites and 106
    review and can clarify what protections
    are properties listed on the
    State and National Registers of
    Historic Places and on Municipal registries.

     

    • While City
    commissions and tile Council may be able to
    deny applications for subdivision (although
    in this instance, your own counsel says
    they may not) building plans, demolition
    permits, etc., the owner may wait
    out commissions, councils, and mayors
    white the value of the property
    rises. In addition, as
    you pointed out, this owner has
    a history of litigation and
    there are no guarantees that the City will avoid
    litigation costs in any scenario.

     

    • The many citizens who
    have worked on this project over the last seven years cannot
    be asked to wait indefinitely for this
    site to be secured.

     

    • In the Downtown, 10,000
    residential units are being built or have been completed in  2004­2005.            We
    know about several thousand more in the planning stage. Little provision
    has been made for parks to balance this development
    despite State, County, and Municipal master plans caning
    for it. The Embankment is one of the last
    opportunities for a new park in
    the burgeoning Downtown.

     

    • Studies
    have shown that the ratings, chase many municipalities
    engage in is largely illusory
    and that more is often expended in city
    services than is gained in new ratables.

     

    • On
    the other hand, parks often raise the value of
    the properties around
    them. Over the years prospective buyers of
    once blighted properties on Sixth
    Street have called us to get assurances that  Embankment will remain intact and will become
    a park. Some infill residences use stone stoops to mimic
    the stone walls of the Embankment across from them.

     

    • The Coalition and
    Steering Committee have raised substantial funds and
    have excellent prospects for more funding. The Coalition committed
    itself to raising funds from outside the City
    when we began our work and we have
    worked diligently to identify and
    secure funds. We understand that funds for the fun appraised
    value must be raised before there is a declaration of
    taking.

     

    The City must follow
    through on its pledges, resolutions, and ordinances of three administrations to
    take this property and maintain it as a historic site, park, and greenway.  It can call on
    the

    resources of
    county, state, and federal governments and agencies, as well as foundations and
    private sources, to avoid burdening the city property taxpayer. The
    Coalition has maintained a commitment to helping the City do
    this through seven years, and we have every intention of
    continuing this commitment.

     

    Sincerely,

    Maureen Crowley

    Coordinator

     

    Copies: Carl Czaplicki, Chief
    of Staff David Donnelly.,
    Asst to the Mayor Stephen. Gucciardo

    Embankment Preservation Coalition
    263 Fifth Street., Jersey City, NJ 07302

    201.963-0232                 
    view: http://www.embankment.org