Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Councilman DeFusco Pleased with New Hotel Giveback Agreement, Disappointed in Overall Investment to Infrastructure

Official release:

Councilman DeFusco Pleased with New Hotel Giveback Agreement, Disappointed in Overall Investment to Infrastructure

DeFusco: Advocacy by Residents, City Council Leads to Improved Outcome for Hoboken
Councilman Mike DeFusco is releasing the following statement on a new agreement announced today between the City of Hoboken and KMS Development, the firm building the new Hilton hotel on River Street. The giveback agreement now includes $1,000,000 for infrastructure improvements for the local neighborhood, a priority that Councilman DeFusco led the charge for, as well as funding for affordable housing and charter schools. Councilman DeFusco is the Co-chair of the Council Development Subcommittee as well as the ward representative of the district where the hotel will be built.

"Mayor Bhalla's decision to announce allocations of redeveloper “givebacks” from the hotel project to organizations he hand-picked before a plan was agreed on was certainly unusual, and this led to a significant public outcry from residents and members of the City Council who were not satisfied with the proposal. After two weeks of exhaustive discussions with all stakeholders, I am pleased the Mayor has taken the advice of the Council and changed course to include funding in the allocation for our neighborhood's infrastructure, which as we all know is at a breaking point. In no small part due to the Council Commitee's advocacy we've seen the developer's financial contribution to the City increase by 50 percent, adding $1.5 million over the last few days of negotiations. I am proud to have represented my ward and downtown Hoboken in a way that ensures our neighborhood is developed with corresponding investments for our quality of life.

I am however greatly disappointed that infrastructure funds dedicated to mitigating the impact of this project were not more substantial. It's difficult to square Mayor Bhalla's heated rhetoric about our poor water infrastructure just a few short weeks ago with this current redevelopment agreement, which adds nearly 350 new rooms to half a city block, but only puts $1 million towards infrastructure.    I have long been a proponent of this hotel project because of the positive impact it will have on our tax base and vibrancy in the First Ward, and with this new agreement on givebacks, I believe we have reached a more balanced development. Despite the concerns I have regarding the disproportionate investment in infrastructure, I will be supporting the amended agreement."