An access agreement for the potential site of the Hoboken municipal complex has been signed between Hoboken’s mayor and the owner of the site, but the property is still in dispute, because the owner opposes the city’s plans for acquiring it.
The city is looking to build the complex in the northwest end of the city at 1501 Adams St., but has been opposed by Charlie Poggi, the owner of the site, who has said that he wants to redevelop the site himself.
During the City Council’s meeting this Wednesday, the agreement, which was signed by both Poggi and Mayor Ravi Bhalla for the site, was put on the agenda for public notice. Thom Ammirato, a spokesperson for Poggi, confirmed that the agreement was signed and was also negotiated by the attorneys for both parties.
An access agreement allows a property owner to temporarily access another owner’s adjoining property and use it for the benefit of their own property. The City Council had previously adopted an ordinance that will allow the city to acquire or condemn the property via eminent domain.
In a Nixle alert sent about an hour before the council meeting, Mayor Bhalla said that they are negotiating with Poggi “in good faith [with him] and his team through open dialogue and communication.”
“While utilizing eminent domain to acquire the property remains an option, I am hopeful for an amicable resolution, so we can build the new complex and recreation center in partnership with Mr. Poggi,” said Bhalla.
About two-and-a-half hours after the Nixle alert was sent, Ammirato said in a statement that the mayor’s comments “mischaracterized the tenor of ‘negotiations’ between the city and Mr. Poggi and his attorneys.”
“This is not the milestone event that the mayor is portraying it to be,” said Ammirato, who then argued that under the state’s eminent domain law, owners of a condemned property must give access to government officials to inspect the property and conduct environmental testing.
“If there was no eminent domain condemnation by the city, there would be no access agreement to 1501 Adams Street,” he continued. “Mr. Poggi remains vehemently opposed to the government taking of his property.”
A $40 million bond ordinance to acquire the property was tabled and eventually pulled off the agenda entirely. It needed six votes out of nine to be adopted, but was introduced 5-4 during first reading, with Council members Michael DeFusco, Tiffanie Fisher, Ruben Ramos and Jen Giattino voting no.
Because of the ongoing feud over the site, as well as the aforementioned bond ordinance being shut down, the city recently said that they will be looking at other city-owned sites to build a temporary public works facility, as they must vacate their current garage by Nov. 2024 as part of the Monarch settlement agreement.
Bhalla later blamed the four council members who voted no in the Nixle alert for opposing the proposed project, and said that a temporary garage will cost over a million dollars “at the taxpayer’s expense.”
“This, to me, is unacceptable, and our residents don’t deserve to have a minority of the City Council purposefully obstruct a project that, if built, will provide a major benefit to current and future generations of Hoboken residents for years to come,” he said.