Bayonne is looking to add another Special Improvement District (SID), this time away from the city’s center. Mayor James Davis issued an executive order to create an advisory board for a SID in the Harbor Station South section of the former Military Ocean Terminal Base (MOTBY) earlier this month. With thousands of units of residential development set to break ground, officials are hoping a district will help attract tenants.
A SID is created by an ordinance to collect a special assessment on the commercial properties and or businesses in the designated area. It is a mechanism for businesses of a community to organize as a single entity, enabling them to raise funds for services such as walkway and park maintenance, transportation, advertising and promotions, and programming, such as concerts and festivals. The five developments due to break ground at Harbor Station South will bring more than 2,000 residential units and mixed-use ground-floor commercial space.
Funds would be raised from the developers through an additional tax on those developers, usually as a percentage of income or assessed property value. How the SID will ultimately function will be up to the advisory board, which will include Business Administrator Joe DeMarco and Chief Financial Officer Terrence Malloy, as well as development stakeholders, Vice President of Boraie Development William Boraie, Mahalaxmi Bayonne LLC Manager Raj Gupta, and Tantum Group Founder Deborah Tantleff.The Bayonne City Council will vote on an ordinance to approve the SID when the advisory board issues its recommendation in the coming months.
“When those people start building, we want to have this in place ready to go.” – Third Ward Councilman Gary La Pelusa
“That’s a lot of mixed use out there, restaurants and commercial space on the ground floor, things that make the neighborhood more desirable,” said Business Administrator Joe DeMarco.
The vision for the area west of Route 440 is coming into focus. A stone’s throw away from Harbor Station South is South Cove Commons, aretail center set for redevelopment, and the 34th Street Light Rail station to its east. A hotel has been discussed for South Cove, while the city pushes for a ferry and voices support for a conceptual gondola.
“When those people start building, we want to have this in place ready to go,” said Third Ward Councilman Gary La Pelusa, who voted on the measure at the November city council meeting. “It’s just a matter of being ready and getting the ball rolling. It’s a smart way to add to the development.”
The city shares the incentive with developers to see those developments generate revenue, as the payment-in-lieu-of-tax (PILOT) agreements with those developers pay the City of Bayonne a percentage of the business’srevenue. The he services performed by a SID might ordinarily be performed and paid for by the city.
“The belief is developers should voluntarily pay money into a fund that will take up tasks that will benefit of all of us, which in turn benefits the city at large,” DeMarco said. “That relieves some of the burden, and you can maintain it at an above-municipal standard.”
In December, Jersey City approved a new SID at Exchange Place, led in large part by DeMarco’s brother, Mack-Cali Realty Corporation President Michael DeMarco.
In defense of that SID, Joe DeMarco said, “That Harborside section of Jersey City wasn’t activated. You had office parks where everybody left. So how do you get these four or five developers to invest in events, whether it’s a beer festival, or a parade, an art festival, a music festival, to get food trucks?”
Rory Pasquariello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.