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Bayonne considers financial agreements with redevelopers again

The City Council tabled ordinances authorizing the agreements at the request of a member who wants to further review the project

The Bayonne City Council withdrew the ordinances at its December meeting. Photo by Daniel Israel.

Bayonne is thinking about again entering into financial agreements with redevelopers to support new projects in the city. However, the City Council tabled ordinances authorizing the agreements at the request of a member who wants to further review the project.

At its December meeting, he council temporarily withdrew three ordinances that would grant financial agreements with redevelopers to two residential projects across the city. The move follows the announcement by the council that the absorption rate study on redevelopment in the city had concluded and the redevelopment would likely move forward.

Prior to the study, Mayor James Davis called for a pause on redevelopment  in February amid his campaign for the 2022 municipal election pending the completion of a study on redevelopment. Davis’ halt on redevelopment also included a stop on approving financial agreements to support new redevelopment.

Silk Lofts East and West

The first and second ordinance would grant financial agreements between the city and Ave E Dev AMS Urban Renewal, LLC for the properties located at 132 and 140 Avenue E, known as Silk Lofts East, and 157-163 Avenue E, known as Silk Lofts West.

In August, the Planning Board approved final site plans for an 18-story building with 250 residential units as well as a public plaza at the entrance at Silk Lofts East, and a six-story building with 36 residential units at Silk Lofts West.

Silk Lofts East is currently home to the parking lot for the existing five-story Silk Lofts building at 154 Avenue E, home to 85 residential units, as well as some homes next to the lot. Silk Lofts West is also presently a parking lot for the existing Silk Lofts. 

There will be 389 parking spaces added in addition to 20 on another surface lot for the existing Silk Lofts. This will bring total parking for the properties to 409 spaces. The 18-story building will be the new tallest structure in Bayonne, surpassing the 13-story Kennedy House residential building with 247 units at 1225 Kennedy Boulevard.

The financial agreement ordinances to support these projects were previously postponed each month in 2022 after they were introduced by the old council after Davis’ call for a pause on redevelopment and supporting financial agreements. They eventually died a “natural death” in June as the new City Council took control in July.

The new council authorized the long-awaited absorption rate study of redevelopment in July, and announced it had concluded in November. Now that the study has come back with positive results, to be presented in full at a future council meeting, that the units already built during the Davis Administration have been occupied. The results mean that redevelopment appears to be moving forward unabated, including the financial agreements that support them.

While the residential project was halted some months per Davis’s pause, it was still actually still approved. The project was okayed by the Planning Board before the study on redevelopment could be completed, which city officials defended by noting it had already received prior planning approvals and could not be stopped.

An aerial rendering of both planned Silk Lofts buildings, courtesy of Marchetto Higgins Stieve Architects.

Woodmont Phase 2

The third ordinance would grant a financial agreement between the city and Woodmont Bayonne Phase 2 Urban Renewal, LLC for the former Bayer property at 52nd Street. This is for the second phase of the already constructed Woodmont Bay Club redevelopment at 190 West 54th Street.

The four-story 220-unit residential redevelopment at 190 West 54th Street finished construction at the site of the former Hi-Hat catering hall in 2019. The Planning Board approved a four-story 85-unit with 138 parking redevelopment for the next phase back in August.

Historically, the site of the second phase was home to the Mobay Chemical Plant. Prior to its demolition, the plant used to manufacture dyes and pharmaceuticals.

The financial agreement for this was previously considered by the council in 2021, but tabled at its October meeting and November meeting as it was still under review by city financial advisors. The ordinance for the financial agreement died before the council in December of that year, failing to get a second to open the public hearing at the time. However, now it is back up for consideration by the council.

While the council was set to introduce the three ordinances at the December meeting, the items were temporarily withdrawn at the request of Second Ward CIty Councilwoman Jacqueline Weimmer. She said that because she wasn’t on the council when this was approved, and this falls in the Second Ward, she had some questions about the 18-story building.

“I asked for O-11 and O-12 be tabled for next month,” Weimmer said at the meeting. “I apologize for the delay, but I was not a party to the council when that was originally passed. I have a tremendous amount of questions before it is that we approve a PILOT for an 18-story building on Avenue E.” 

Ordinances withdrawn at request of councilwoman

According to Weimmer, her questions range from generalities about the redevelopment to specifics like community givebacks and other things. She said she needs time to go over her questions with the appropriate parties.

“There’s some infrastructure questions as to improvements to the local community and things of that nature,” Weimmer said. “So we’re going to table that til next month when I have an opportunity to meet with council and get some additional answers.” 

City Clerk Madelene Medina then confirmed that the ordinances were withdrawn. Two ordinance approving financial agreements, one being a reimbursement agreement, both with 7 Hook Road Urban Renewal, LLC for the industrial property in the Constable Hook area were introduced, however.

These ordinances will be up for a public hearing and vote, and the other ordinance may be actually be introduced, at the council’s January 18 meeting at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at 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 disrael@hudsonreporter.com.

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