The owner of the Poggi Press building in northwest Hoboken will oppose the potential acquisition or eminent domain condemnation of his property by the city. The site is being considered for a new municipal Department of Public Works garage.
Charlie Poggi, the owner, said that he wants to redevelop the property at 1501 Adams St. himself, and was in discussions with Mayor Ravi Bhalla’s administration on potential developments. But Poggi said that the city rejected his plans and that he was “blindsided” by an appraisal of the property that he said he wasn’t made aware of.
The City Council is now considering ordinances that would allow the city to acquire the property, possibly through condemnation, and a bond ordinance to finance the acquisition.
How it got here
The situation stems from the Monarch settlement last fall. In exchange for acquiring a site where hi-rise buildings had been proposed on the waterfront at Pier 15, the city agreed to let Ironstate Developers acquire the Department of Public Works garage at 256 Observer Hwy. and build a mixed-use development.
With the current garage set to be vacated by November 2024, the Poggi Press building is being considered as the site for a new public works headquarters.
The building was the home of a commercial printing company that was started by Poggi’s grandfather in 1928. The building was wiped out during Superstorm Sandy in 2012, and the company has been working from another location in New Jersey since then, specializing in printing for luxury, cosmetic and fashion.
Poggi had been trying to find other uses for the old site, including making it available to other businesses, but said in a press release that the city made it known that it would not support the reuses.
In an interview with the Hudson Reporter, Poggi said that the city had asked him to develop plans for a municipal works garage with a residential component, and he had begun discussions about the property last summer.
The City Council had undertaken legislation related to the matter around that time. The council had planned to pass a resolution at their July 7, 2021 meeting to contract CBRE, Inc. to appraise the property, but was withdrawn after Poggi objected to it at the meeting.
Instead, the council passed a resolution at their July 21, 2021 meeting to appraise multiple properties, including 1501 Adams St., to identify a location for a new public works garage.
Poggi and a development firm had met with the city on two proposed development options, but said that they were both rejected in January and February with no explanation.
“There was always the possibility or the threat of eminent domain hanging over our head as well,” he said. “So it was a dual track. I guess the city perceived it as ‘If we can’t get a plan, we’re going to condemn and take the property’.”
Poggi said that he knew that condemnation was coming when they had ended deliberations, but he had no idea of an appraisal report, which had valued the property at $19,320,000 as of Nov. 9, 2021, per an analysis by Lasser Sussman Associates, LLC at the request of the city.
“Charlie was never given the copy of it, and then it pops up on the agenda,” said Thom Ammirato, a spokesperson for Poggi.
Poggi had only learned about it from a Jersey Journal article, which initially reported the appraisal at $26.35 million, but it was changed to the current amount after a city spokesperson told the Journal that the $26 million figure was based on the appraiser using an incorrect floor area ratio.
He was also “troubled” by the assessor’s estimate of the best use of the property dropping from 335 housing units to 208, including 31 affordable housing units, saying he was never given an explanation of how it happened.
At the most recent City Council meeting last week, the council voted to introduce two ordinances related to the matter. One would allow the city to acquire the property either by direct negotiation or via eminent domain. Another would approve a $40 million bond ordinance to acquire the property.
Both ordinances passed first reading 5-4, with Council members Michael DeFusco, Tiffanie Fisher, Jen Giattino and Ruben Ramos voting no.
Hoboken spokesperson Marilyn Baer said that the city had been in talks with Poggi for over a year regarding the property. “We continue to hope to acquire the site through friendly acquisition,” she said.
“There are times when a city can work with a redeveloper to incorporate public facilities into a private project,” said Baer. “In other instances such is not possible for a myriad of reasons. In this instance the city must control its own destiny in order to meet critical deadlines to implement a complex transaction that involves moving our DPW facility and developing a new park while avoiding the development of the Monarch project on our waterfront.”
“This urgency and complexity,” she continued, “combined with the limited amount of available land in Hoboken and our need to have flexibility in planning for the needs of our residents for the next 50 years and beyond led us to conclude that we must acquire the entire property for a fair price.”
In previous legislation by the City Council, they passed a resolution on Dec. 15 last year to award a $24,000 contract to Nastasi Architects for a schematic design of a public works facility at 1501 Adams. St.. At their Feb. 2 meeting, they also passed another resolution awarding another contract to Nastasi at $1,716,370 for design development for a facility at the site.
Ammirato said that they’re waiting to see what the council does at their next meeting, which he said will dictate their legal strategy.
Poggi said that they hope the council rejects both ordinances, and that he wants to redevelop the property himself. “I’m just hopeful that the City Council and the city of Hoboken sees the benefits of what we have to offer and give us another bite at the apple.”
The City Council’s next meeting is on March 9.