Friday, September 20, 2019

City of Hoboken to take Academy Bus property downtown in latest eminent domain

Hoboken Patch reports the newest city land acquisition "Hoboken Will Use Eminent Domain to Seize Bus Company's Property."

The sub-headline states former mayor Dawn Zimmer accused Academy Bus of trying to force Hoboken into an "out-of-scale, traffic-generating development deal" on the City."

On Wednesday the City of Hoboken filed legal documents to take the land currently owned by Academy Bus for $5.3 million. The eminent domain process, however, will determine the final price.

The acre of land seized will join nearly an acre across the street with the existing Southwest Park or Southwest Plaza as some call the open space.

No additional taxes are anticipated according to the mayor's office with existing taxpayer funding provided through $1 million from a Hudson County Trust, $900,000 through the State Green Acres fund and the existing Open Space Trust tax fund in Hoboken.

It's unclear what the final cost to renovate and build on the additional acre of space will total.

The eminent domain action means discussions Academy Bus held with the City of Hoboken, Mayor Ravi Bhalla and BoE school officials for a multi-development use on the location with a proposed park and space for a new public school are terminally ended.

A rendering of the proposed Academy Bus plan for downtown Hoboken at the site of its downtown office originally included
a paid-for public park and public school. 

For more on this story, see Hoboken Patch at the link:
https://patch.com/new-jersey/hoboken/hoboken-will-use-eminent-domain-seize-bus-company-s-property

Talking Ed Note: Dawn Zimmer originally pushed for a Southwest Park a decade ago joining a group of Hoboken residents who had been advocating for one. A see-saw City Hall battle ensued over years until a parking lot was eventually converted by eminent domain with the critical decisive vote coming from City Council President Jen Giattino.

Dawn Zimmer expressed unhappiness when the development options proposed by Academy Bus for a privately paid park with school facilities became public late last year. This year, Zimmer and her husband, Stan Grossbard, put their home up for sale with a seven-figure price tag in the vicinity of the Academy Bus proposal as exclusively reported here.

Word of the Academy Bus offering late last year circulated with false accusations made against councilmembers who were not involved by Ravi Bhalla's online paid political operative. The two falsely accused, Tiffanie Fisher and Jen Giattino were not affiliated near the downtown ward and had no role in the discussions between Academy Bus and Ravi Bhalla's office.

Ravi Bhalla earlier this year feigned ignorance of the matter and distanced himself from the negotiations of the Academy Bus proposal pointing to others.

Later, Academy Bus demanded that Ravi Bhalla's office have a designee in attendance on any future negotiations with their development offer to build apartments, a park, and school.

While their home was not sold, the earlier Zimmer NIMBY alert was heard loud and clear in a reported heated phone call to Ravi Bhalla.

Academy Bus had attempted good faith negotiations with the mayor's office and district BOE officials. Those efforts are officially ended pending the final price for their decades-owned property.