Ashe-Nadrowski moves to reopen negotiations for key MOTBY redevelopment

The Davis campaign called the move "insane" and said it threatened the "critical" project

Bayonne City Council President and mayoral candidate Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski has announced her intent to introduce a legislative package reopening negotiations with Bayonne Partners Urban Renewal to “secure a more lucrative deal” for the city regarding its planned redevelopments at the “Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor.”

The move follows a back-and-forth ahead of the May 10 municipal election between Ashe-Nadrowski and Mayor James Davis regarding the proposed development by the entity at the former Military Ocean Terminal at Bayonne (MOTBY). At the time, she said she was unsure how she would vote on the project when it comes before the Bayonne Planning Board in April. Now, Ashe-Nadrowski is seeking a better deal for Bayonne with the redeveloper.

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Redevelopment at MOTBY under the spotlight

In 2015 Bayonne Partners Urban Renewal entered into an agreement with the city of Bayonne to purchase a portion of city-owned property at MOTBY to build a three-phase project consisting of five buildings, with 1,250 residential units, a park, retail space, and parking structures.

The agreement struck seven years ago set a sale price of approximately $35 million on the property. However, from 2015 to date, the sale was never executed, the land remained owned and maintained by the city, and brought no revenue or economic benefit to the municipality, according to Ashe-Nadrowski.

The same land is now valued near $95 million, a $60 million difference. Because of this, Ashe-Nadrowski is seeking to renegotiate the deal with Bayonne Partners Urban Renewal, which she noted is a subsidiary of Boraie Development and a campaign donor to Davis.

Redeveloper Wasseem Boraie has donated $25,000 to the political action committee (PAC) Government for the People. The PAC was founded by former State Senator Ray Lesniak to support Davis in his bid for a third term as a mayor.

Boraie is the vice president of Boraie Development, and also sits on the board of the Harbor Station South Special Improvement District, which is located at MOTBY. The $25,000, approximately half of what the PAC had raised, came ahead of the expected planning board hearing that has been scheduled for April.

That now-defunct PAC has since been shut down by Lesniak after political consultant Sean Caddle pleaded guilty to his role in a murder-for-hire plot. The PAC had paid Caddle $2,500 in December, just one month before he plead guilty to hiring two men to kill former associate Michael Galdieri in his Jersey City apartment.

Getting a ‘better deal?’

According to Ashe-Nadrowski, the additional $60 million sought as part of renegotiating the deal could go toward stabilizing taxes, among other things.

“Today I’m formally announcing my intent to introduce the necessary City Council Resolutions and Ordinances to reopen negotiations with Bayonne Partners Urban Renewal for the redevelopment of a portion of the Military Ocean Terminal,” said Ashe Nadrowski. “The deal that was struck in 2015 makes no sense in 2022. After 7 years of stagnation, this developer wants to complete the transaction and buy city property for $60 millions less than what it’s worth. Worse yet, Mayor Davis is advocating for it. We can’t allow that to happen. That $60 million could help stabilize taxes, reinvest in our businesses, fix our streets, and even go toward building new schools – the possibilities are endless.”

Responding to the Davis campaign’s previous assertions that meddling with this redevelopment would jeopardize the overall revitalization at MOTBY, Ashe-Nadrowski countered that the area is already bustling with construction and other activities and that the redeveloper should pay the current value of the land.

“For anyone that suggests asking for the fair market value of this property would sabotage the development of the Military Ocean Terminal, I would recommend that they take a ride down Goldsborough Drive – and don’t forget to stop at the Starbucks on the right,” said Ashe-Nadrowski. “The redevelopment and revitalization of MOTBY is already happening. Asking for
Bayonne’s fair share of the land value is about standing up for residents and taxpayers. They don’t deserve to be short-changed by a big developer, and they certainly don’t deserve the Davis Administration’s City Hall that refuses to fight for them.”

Ashe-Nadrowski plans on introducing the aforementioned resolutions and ordinances at the next meeting of the Bayonne City Council. The council is set to meet next on Wednesday, April 20 at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall at 630 Avenue C. For more information, go to bayonnenj.org.

Davis campaign decries proposal

In response to Ashe-Nadrowski’s proposal, the Davis campaign called it “insane” and claimed it would lead to legal trouble with redevelopers.

“Sharon Nadrowski’s insane plan to break an ironclad contract that she herself supported and her campaign manager Joe DeMarco personally negotiated for the city would be one of the most irresponsible, nonsensical actions Bayonne could ever take,” said campaign spokesman Phil Swibinski. “If Nadrowski succeeds the developer would sue, Bayonne taxpayers would be forced to pay millions of dollars in legal fees and the city would lose in court, plain and simple. This would set an incredibly dangerous precedent that could open the city up to significant legal liability in other development projects, potentially costing taxpayers millions.”

Swibinski again said this redevelopment was a “critical” part of the revitalization of MOTBY, and could cost taxpayers if it does not come to fruition. While Davis has put a pause on redevelopment, he said MOTBY was excluded from this due the revenue and jobs the redevelopment there brings the city.

“Meanwhile, this critical MOTBY property would be tied up in a legal battle caused by Nadrowski instead of contributing to Bayonne’s rebirth by creating new tax revenue and jobs,” Swibinski said. “Nadrowski would be a taxpayer nightmare who would cost every Bayonne resident thousands of dollars in higher taxes to pay for her mistakes, at a time when residents can least afford that kind of mismanagement with rising gas prices and inflation. The last thing Bayonne needs is a candidate being propped up by two dark money Super PACs who refuses to disclose her donors and who would cost taxpayers millions of dollars just to make a political point.”

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.

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