The dispute over Hoboken’s proposed municipal complex and the property where the city wants to build it has lasted since February, and recently the property owner and has accused the city of offering nothing “constructive” since July.
“I’m troubled by the city’s lack of responsiveness and so is my legal team,” said Charlie Poggi, the owner of the Poggi Press at 1501 Adams St. He and his legal team said that the city “has been dragging its feet in negotiations to acquire Poggi’s industrial lot and it’s time to come to a settlement or leave him and his family alone.”
Poggi is opposed to the city potentially acquiring or condemning his property via eminent domain, saying that he wants to redevelop the property himself.
Originally set to be the proposed site for the city’s new Department of Public Works garage in the wake of the Monarch settlement last year, Mayor Ravi Bhalla and his administration have since proposed a new $192 million municipal complex that would include public safety departments, city offices and other amenities.
When the administration set its sights on the Poggi Press property, the City Council voted earlier this year to either buy the property or condemn it via eminent domain, but a $40 million bond ordinance to buy the property got stalled in the council and was eventually removed entirely.
The ordinance needed six votes out of nine to be adopted, but it was introduced 5-4 during first reading, with Council members Michael DeFusco, Tiffanie Fisher, Ruben Ramos and Jen Giattino voting no.
In July, the council voted on a resolution asking the Hudson County Improvement Authority, which handles trash and recycling, as well as bonding, to acquire the Poggi Press property, either by direct purchase or through eminent domain, and lease it to the city so that they can build their complex.
Since then, Poggi’s attorney Anthony Della Pelle said that they had not had “any meaningful communication” from the Bhalla administration for months and that “it doesn’t look like any progress is coming soon.”
“Because of the city’s foot-dragging, Mr. Poggi has been locked in a limbo jail,” said Della Pelle. “He has not been presented with a fair compensation package, and his options to use the property are severely limited because there is an eminent domain threat hanging over the property,” said Della Pelle.
Poggi’s team said that the HCIA was given an “inaccurate” appraisal by the city, and that the property is worth more. Della Pelle also said that Poggi’s team has not heard from the HCIA “and they have no knowledge that the authority is interested in the proposed project.”
“Mr. Poggi has a right to be properly compensated for his property – or- in the alternative – be given his rights to redevelop his own property, which is what he really wants to do,” said attorney Maria Vallejo, who also representing Poggi. “If the city has decided to go in another direction regarding the municipality’s infrastructure needs, they should let us know.”
City spokeswoman Marilyn Baer told Hudson County View on Tuesday that the city’s attorney “has been in communication with the property owner’s attorneys as recently as last week to further negotiations.”
“The city continues to explore all options and negotiate in good faith with the property owner and looks forward to the completion of this process in the coming months,” she said.
In response to Baer’s statement however, Poggi accused her of being “grossly misinformed by the administration on the negotiations” regarding the property.
“My team has made multiple proposals to the city; the last one was June 15,” he said. “In three months, we have received no response. Getting a phone call from the city attorney two weeks ago to say he has nothing meaningful to offer is not furthering negotiations. The city is not negotiating in good faith. It is not negotiating at all. It is stalling.”
In the original press release, Poggi was said to have maintained “a willingness to work with the administration and negotiate in good faith,” but still opposes his property being acquired.