Jersey City Rejects Settlement Offer Regarding 6th Street Embankment

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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

Jon Whiten

co-founded the Jersey City Independent. He is currently the Deputy Director of New Jersey Policy Perspective.