Monday, March 12, 2018

Grist for the Mill: Ravi's war & the Union Dry Dock Condo solution

A solution for the Union Dry Dock battle between Hoboken and NY Waterway is under consideration but some may not like the compromise.

The inlet by the PATH station is described as the winning solution in a location for NY Waterway to fuel their commuter boats. Serving 30,000 customers on NJ's Gold Coast is their ultimate objective and other proposals were far too costly. The alternatives pointed to Bayonne or Brooklyn were not feasible but had been pushed "sacrificing" the environment with far more carbon emissions. But little Buffy and Biffy uptown would be spared what a gas station smells like.

What would go in its place at the Union Dry Dock site? Condos. Lots and lots of condos with seven-figure price-tags and unobstructed NYC views. This will be a mega real estate deal requiring Hoboken a "Port Imperiale" developer. Hoboken will get a wider sidewalk on Sinatra. Win-win?

So too, Hoboken will require lots of lawyers to sort out this complex real estate transactions valued in the tens of millions if not more. Can anyone provide a referral for a land-use zoning law firm who might be available from outside Hoboken?

The Mile Square City should sleep peacefully as the cash register goes ka-ching in the mayor's office. The Corporation Counsel's Office will review everything and make sure there's at least one other law firm signing off on the paperwork for public consumption to make everything appear kosher.

The more zeroes that appear in the deal the less conflicted we'll be told any of this is.

Hoboken Mayor & Developer Leader Ravi Bhalla
Most of the City Council already shut out by the mayor's office according to council members who are not seeing calls returned by Mayor Ravi Bhalla will be presented with the whole deal in the eleventh hour as a fait accompli.

It's only the beginning of Ravi Bhalla's new development plans for Hoboken. While developers are cheering behind the scenes as the revolving doors are churning with them being welcomed into City Hall, the City Council is kept on ice.

The council's interest in the northwest redevelopment is strong as they had urged former mayor Dawn Zimmer to coordinate on a plan. She declined and chose the path of least resistance for re-election before eventually bowing out entirely.

Ravi Bhalla has a different process in mind. He's given the cold shoulder to the City Council with a message, "Don't call me, I'll call you." Development in Hoboken will be his domain and the legislative body will only be told of anything when it's already formulated and ready for final approval.

It's the latest salvo in the war of the roses Ravi Bhalla prefers. The City Council wanted to work with the new mayor but he prefers capitulation to the office of the mayor or nothing. A majority of the council organized and aided the efforts on Union Dry Dock early this year but that's all forgotten now.

Hoboken is a money tree waiting to be shaken with new development. Development money holds the keys to the kingdom, more riches and political ambitions running right through the second floor at City Hall. There's only room for one political bank account for deposits.

In other war news, HudCo is in the midst of a civil war conflagration. For Hoboken taxpayers, it will generate a big yawn but services may be impacted. Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop and State Senator/Union City Mayor Brian Stack have declared war moving to upset the current County Executive Tom DeGise.

HudCo mayors have been called on to choose sides as Hoboken and West New York quickly issued a follow-up joint statement joining the insurrection. The HudCo annual budget is well over half-a-billion annually. That's right, it's well over $500,000,000, although if you want to watch a meeting of its legislative actions via the Freeholders, it's next to impossible.

Even with a massive budget, HudCo holds its legislative meetings in the middle of the day at 2:00 PM and doesn't spend a plumb nickel to record and air them on public access TV or online. Hoboken contributes tens of millions to the HudCo budget each year but if they want to understand the ways of The Machine, there's little available but darkness.

Did Mayor Ravi Bhalla join the insurrection prematurely and put Hoboken at risk or is he signing up with the winning team? Nothing was released to the Hoboken public through an official press release. The stakes are high but as with his law firm employment contract, there's no transparency to date.

What would Senator Bob Menendez say? He's going to weigh in. Let's see how it goes.

Grist for the Mill is MSV's rumor column. Got a tasty carrot for Da Horsey? Send it to smartyjones@me.com. All email is kept confidential and is protected by Da Horsey's proven Reporter Privilege upheld under the NJ Shield Law in Hudson County Superior Court. In farm animals we trust.