The Bayonne City Council approved one financial agreement in March, but again postponed a number of others to its upcoming April meeting. As the May 10 municipal election approaches, the agreements have been a focal point of discussion.
Reusing former Mount Carmel school
The council has adopted a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement (PILOT) between the city and 22nd Street Partners Urban Renewal, LLC for the adaptive reuse of the former School of Our Lady of Mount Carmel at 25 East 25th Street school as a residential building. The old school will be transformed into 31 units with 31 parking spaces.
The council voted 3-2 to approve the 20-year-long PILOT, after it was postponed at the February meeting. Second Ward City Councilman Sal Gullace, City Councilman At-Large Juan Perez, and City Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski voted in favor of the agreement, while First Ward City Councilman Neil Carroll and Third Ward City Councilman Gary La Pelusa voted it against it.
Ashe-Nadrowski, who is running for mayor in the upcoming municipal election, touted the adaptive reuse of the structure, meaning the old façade of the building was kept in tact instead of being demolished to make way for a new building.
“This is for the public’s benefit,” Ashe-Nadrowski said. “I had a community meeting and met with people two, three weeks ago regarding this project. The developer came and spoke to the residents in the neighborhood. They were very satisfied with it. This is a project that is not going to knock any development down. It’s going to rehab an existing building and the integrity of the neighborhood will stay the same.
“The people who went to Mt. Carmel School, ten years from when they’re walking by, it’ll still look like Mt. Carmel School. And based on the input I got from the community, who were very grateful for the developers speaking, they were in favor of this.”
Some council members opposed
La Pelusa voted no, even to open and close the public hearing, stating he was “staying consistent.”
During a vote for a separate financial agreement, First Ward City Councilman Neil Carroll criticized the nature of the community meeting Ashe-Nadrowski held regarding the shuttered Catholic school’s redevelopment.
“I don’t know the public that come out,” Carroll said. “You claim it was a community meeting. It was probably more like a political rally because there are individuals I spoke to that are being unceremoniously displaced by various constructions on this list tonight. They are looking for a new home and they haven’t been given any effort, any help, any means of accomplishing that.
“I have no problem postponing this, but in the interim I would implore those that are constructing these buildings and looking for 20-year PILOTs would attempt to at least help these individuals that are being displaced.”
La Pelusa offered to help those displaced by the gentrification of the new redevelopment.
“Anybody who would need help if they are displaced, and you want to contact me or have me contact them, I’ll help anybody who I can,” La Pelusa said.
Other financial agreements postponed
Meanwhile other financial agreements were postponed by the council. First, two ordinances were recommended to be postponed and carried to the April meeting by Special Redevelopment Counsel John Wyciskala. According to Wychiskala, the first ordinance would authorize reimbursement agreement with 6 Commerce Street Urban Renewal, LLC for sewer and water upgrades in the area.
“This particular ordinance as well as the next are both being requested for adjournment,” Wyciskala said. “They were adjourned at the last meeting. This does involve a reimbursement agreement in conjunction with the redevelopment project whereby the redeveloper is undertaking some other improvements that evidently go above and beyond or benefit other property in the area.”
These two PILOTs were postponed at the February meeting at the request of the city and the redeveloper, who wanted to discuss the agreement further, according to Wyciskala. Now, he said that the city engineers are still reviewing the plans.
“Our engineers are still looking at the benefits on this,” Wyciskala said. “So we’re recommending adjournment.”
Wyciskala also recommended the same of the second reimbursement agreement for similar sewer and water upgrades between the city and 7 Hook Road Urban Renewal, LLC. The council voted unanimously to postpone those two financial agreement-related ordinances.
Silk Lofts and Delta Gas Station PILOTs also postponed
The council also voted to postpone three other PILOT agreement ordinances at the request of the redeveloper.
The first ordinance would authorize a PILOT agreement between the city and Ave E Dev Mile High AMS Urban Renewal, LLC. The financial agreement would support a proposed 18-story high rise that is part of the next phase of the Silk Lofts redevelopment known as Silk Lofts East at 140 Avenue E.
The second ordinance would authorize a separate PILOT between the city and AMS Urban Renewal for a six-story building proposed at 57-163 Avenue E known as Silk Lofts West. The third ordinance would authorize a PILOT agreement between the city and 218-220 Broadway Urban Renewal, LLC for 218-220 Broadway at the former Delta Gas Station.
Wychiaskala said that the applicants had requested to adjourn the ordinances, a repeat of what happened in February. The council voted 4-1 to postpone them, with Ashe-Nadrowski voting against the motion this time, stating the council has “city business to do.”
The move to postpone the ordinances comes after Mayor James Davis had previously asked the council to vote down PILOTs after announcing a halt on most major residential redevelopment in the city outside of specific areas such as the former Military Ocean Terminal (MOTBY).
While the council has so far postponed the PILOTs not rejected them, the council members running on Team Davis, including Carroll, La Pelusa, and Perez, previously told the Bayonne Community News this was in line with the mayor’s pause on redevelopment.
The ordinances that were postponed will be up for a public hearing and vote at the April 20 meeting of the Bayonne City Council in the council chambers in City Hall at 630 Avenue C. For more information, go to bayonnenj.org.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.