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Re: Toll Brother's Travesty in the PAD
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Despite towering opposition, amendments for towers approved
Neighborhood association plans to sue over zoning change in Powerhouse District

Ricardo Kaulessar
Hudson Reporter
04/13/2008

VOTING IN FAVOR – City Councilman Steve Lipski (second from left) was one of six councilpersons who voted for amendments to the Powerhouse Arts District Redevelopment Plan. Listening are City Council members (left to right): Steven Fulop, Mariano Vega, and Bill Gaughan.
A whopping 44 speakers addressed the City Council at its Wednesday meeting, either supporting or criticizing proposed zoning changes that would allow three towers to rise in the Powerhouse Arts District.

But in the end, the only voices that counted were the six councilpersons who voted in favor of amendments that will allow national developer Toll Bros. to build three towers between Morgan and Bay streets at the site of the old Manischewitz factory - towers rising much higher than they could have otherwise.

The towers will stand at 30, 35, and 40 stories. If they were built according to the original plan, they would more likely be built between 10 and 15 stories tall.

The amendments actually allow for the creation of what will be known as the Arts Theater Residence Overlay Zone to accommodate the three towers. Conditions to be met include 11 work/live units for artists and 32 units of workforce housing, a "black box" performance theater, and a public plaza to be constructed over a historic cobblestone street.

A total of 950 units and 950 parking spaces are proposed.

Thirty eight against it

Thirty-eight people spoke against the amendments, and there were two dissenters on the council: Downtown City Councilman Steven Fulop and City Council President Mariano Vega.

A neighborhood group called the Powerhouse Arts District Neighborhood Association (PADNA) is going ahead with plans to file a legal complaint in 30 days against the city, challenging the amendments to the plan. The plan itself has been in effect for less than four years.

The group has fought an uphill battle to find out about the Toll Bros. project, and then tried to appeal to city planners and officials for this project to be built in compliance with the district's zoning.

Video shows original vote

Before the speaking portion on the amendments, there was a screening of a nearly 10-minute video showing the City Council's vote on Oct. 27, 2004, when the district was officially designated for redevelopment by the city. Four of the people who were on the council at that time are still on the council.

In the video, then-council member and current Mayor Jerramiah Healy can be seen giving an affirmative vote.

The Powerhouse Arts District (PAD) in Downtown Jersey City is an 11-block area that stretches east to west from Marin Blvd. to Washington Blvd., and north to south from Second Street to Bay Street.

The 38 people who came out against the amendments were a mixed group: residents directly impacted by the proposed Toll Bros. project, longtime community activists, historic preservationists young and old, heads of neighborhood associations, and those attending the meeting for another issue who decided to speak on this one.

Their dissention on the amendments included concerns that it would destroy the PAD by allowing the towers to render the city's zoning laws moot.

Jill Edelman, the president of PADNA, was one of the last of the 42 people to speak, but she posed pointed questions to the council that summed up how these amendments even came to fruition.

Edelman also requested the council table the vote on the amendments so neighborhood representatives, Toll Bros., and other community groups could meet and come up with a new development plan that would respect the historic character and "neighborhood diversity" of the district.

"I keep coming back to [the fact that] Toll Bros.' attitude towards the neighborhood association was dismissive at best," Edelman said to the council. "Did you promise them something when they bought that land?"

Fulop received a standing ovation after he explained his vote against the amendments, pointing out that there was easily a "10 to 1" ratio of those who opposed the amendments at the meeting.

He said the new changes were "deceitful" to those who previously voted and supported the Powerhouse Arts District Redevelopment Plan.

Fulop said sharply, "We're literally throwing out 15 years of work in the last year, between [approval of 111 First St. settlement] and this, and we're doing it with a smile, so I vote no."

There was 'no pressure'

Some of the City Council members who gave their vote against the amendments took issue with comments from the audience that political pressure played a role in how they voted.

City Councilman-at-Large Peter Brennan was one of the councilpersons who scolded the audience. He said his vote was based upon the precedent set by the legal settlement between the city and the owner of 111 First St., which allowed for a major zoning change in the Powerhouse Arts District to allow for two 60-story towers on that area.

That change came as part of a legal settlement between the city and the developer of 111 First St., who earlier had forced artists out of his building.

City Councilman Bill Gaughan remarked, "Trust me, I don't feel any pressure" as he cited his service of nearly 15 years on the council.

"I believe that these amendments are good for the Powerhouse Arts District and good for the city as a whole," Gaughan said.

City Councilman Steve Lipski, who also serves on the Planning Board, spent five minutes citing various excerpts from the city's master plan and the report done in 2002 by the Urban Land Institute that recommended the creation of what would become the Powerhouse Arts District, before voting for the amendments.

Mayor Jerramiah Healy commended the vote for the amendments, saying, "It is important to keep investment coming to our city, particularly at this time when the market is down, while also preserving and moving forward with the centerpiece of this district - the Powerhouse."

Ben Jogodnik, senior vice president for Toll Bros., said there was no truth to the rumor that they will sell the rights to the property now that they've obtained approvals. Otherwise, he was ecstatic about the vote.

"Toll Bros. is enormously excited, thinks it a fantastic project and it is a fantastic opportunity," he said.

Comments on this story can be sent to rkaulessar@hudsonreporter.com

Posted on: 2008/4/13 13:58
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Re: Toll Brother's Travesty in the PAD
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ianmac47 writes:
Quote:
Wealthy residents create jobs.

...the return of trickle-down economics. That worked out great for the middle classes over the last 30 years...
and this chart only goes to the top 95th percentile, at the top 99th, it's exponential

81% percent of Americans think the country's going in the wrong direction - that's an astounding number....
CBS news/NY Times poll


But to bring it back to JC, this debate is *not* about PAD development or no PAD development - of course there's going to be (and should be) development there (how many times does this have to get pointed out...sigh) - this debate is instead about the precedent-setting scuttling of a "40 year plan" only 3 years in!! (a distinction the 'Toll tools' out there will likely refuse to acknowledge)

In fact, as Fulop pointed out, it was also unfair to the other *developers* who (naively, in JC) made business decisions based on the assumption that the Redevelopment Plan was in place. You would think that even the developers' most ardent soldiers/toadies/shills should be able to agree that going forward, this sets a really bad precedent for other developers doing business with the city.

Lastly, ianmac47's trotting out of the Rush Limbaugh-ian chestnut about a villainous elitist class - it's such a red herring, it drives me nuts - the elite is the *money*. Always has been, and is now more than ever. Meanwhile, the people primarily interested in getting their share of the crumbs falling off the table are out there (and on this message board) carrying the real money's water...

Posted on: 2008/4/11 16:18
"Someday a book will be written on how this city can be broke in the midst of all this development." ---Brewster
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Re: Toll Brother's Travesty in the PAD
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Quote:

ianmac47 wrote:

Further, while a great number of people on this board are vocal and passionate about the PAD and preservation of landmarks, a large number of Jersey City residents care a lot more about employment opportunities. Construction creates jobs. High rise towers create jobs. Wealthy residents create jobs. And more importantly, it creates the working class jobs the rest of the city needs. Families living pay check to pay check don't care about subsidizing artists and art galleries, and by and large, the non-downtown council members represent people with interests other than preservation of an elitist neighborhood.


Another iMAC fact! A series of them, really!

iMAC fact: No one outside of downtown cares about the arts district or historic district.

Real fact: The opponents of the Toll Brothers plan came from all parts of the city.

iMAC fact: The Toll Brothers plan would create more jobs.

Real fact: Preservation of existing buildings has repeatedly been shown to be economically more beneficial than new construction. See Preservation NJ's (and tons of other) studies on the economic benefits of such. Ask former governor of MD Parris Glendenning about the economic benefits of historic preservation. Whatever you do Ian, actually learn about the facts before speaking out of your ass.

iMAC fact: The PAD "subsidizes" artists and art galleries.

Real fact: There is no government subsidy involved (although under the Cunningham administration, I believe the city chose to purchase the affordable units in 140 Bay and rent them to artists). The units that were required to be affordable housing were to be marketed to artists, and zoning was designed to encourage arts related businesses, but that is no different than the zoning in any redevelopment plan that is designed to highlight the strength of a neighborhood.

iMAC fact: Supporters of PAD are elitists who wanted to create an elite neighborhood.

Real fact: The supporters of PAD were so elitist that they were demanding MORE affordable housing IN the neighborhood. How DARE those elitists want more affordable housing?!?!

I also note the remarkably hypocrisy in the i-man's statements, whereby he trashes residents of a neighborhood who want more affordable housing as "elitist" yet waxes poetic about wealthy residents being what makes a neighborhood.


This is just another typical post from the i-Man. Among the other "elitists" our man of the people has trashed are advocates for park space, advocates for preserving our history, advocates for affordable housing, and advocates for an arts district that would have been a true destination and economic dynamo.

The only people who aren't elitists are those who encourage developers to build 50 story towers.

It's tough to figure out what's more annoying about the i-Man, his utter lack of knowledge of urban living, or his sanctimonious and condescending labeling of anyone involved in making this city a better place as "elitist."

Joshua

Posted on: 2008/4/11 15:57
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Re: Toll Brother's Travesty in the PAD
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As a Ward A voter, I will not vote for Michael Sottolano nor anyone he supports based on this vote. I for one believe that many people all over JC are concerned about what happens in downtown. To me a downtown should resemble the community of people who live in Jersey City. The plan that the council has approved it going to further isolate downtown further from the rest of JC.

I foresee that downtown will turn into a replica of river road in Edgewater. Which in my opinion is a complete catastrophe that I avoid at all costs. Big whoops -- now JC may finally get a whole foods!

Posted on: 2008/4/11 14:40
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Re: Toll Brother's Travesty in the PAD
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Quote:

JCLAW wrote:
Facetious rhetorical question:

In what way do any of you on this board believe your political (or other) support is important to any councilperson other than the one from Ward E?



Politically, the downtown has very little power. Even if every resident voted in elections, the downtown is still a minority of Jersey City residents by 4:1. But even thats assuming perfect voter turnout. In reality, downtown voter turnout is awful, especially in comparison to the votes garnered by the well oiled machine.

Further, while a great number of people on this board are vocal and passionate about the PAD and preservation of landmarks, a large number of Jersey City residents care a lot more about employment opportunities. Construction creates jobs. High rise towers create jobs. Wealthy residents create jobs. And more importantly, it creates the working class jobs the rest of the city needs. Families living pay check to pay check don't care about subsidizing artists and art galleries, and by and large, the non-downtown council members represent people with interests other than preservation of an elitist neighborhood.

Posted on: 2008/4/11 14:25
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Re: Toll Brother's Travesty in the PAD
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Quote:

JCLAW wrote:
Facetious rhetorical question:

In what way do any of you on this board believe your political (or other) support is important to any councilperson other than the one from Ward E?



Fair question. Not facetious at all.

I would say that it is unquestionably true that the odds in taking on developers and other interests that you have mentioned are difficult. Normally, the council gives great deference to what the local ward councilman feels about on a project because it's their "turf." For downtown, they throw that rule out the window. That's the area where all the development occurs, and it brings in short term revenue for the city. The fact that Fulop has staked out a position as a reformer also affects this calculation.

I have gotten used to what happened Wednesday night, where the council completely ignores the overwhelming public sentiment on the issue to allow hyper-development. Despite their protests to the contrary, they obviously have been pressured by the Mayor's Office to vote the way they have. It would be very easy to become cynical and withdraw over the issue. But seeing the rather diverse group of speakers still inspires me. At these meetings I always seem to meet one more person from some other part of the city who is organizing and doing great things.

The mobilization of the public has not been able to convince a majority of the council, but it has had some effect. Councilman Fulop will be the first to tell you that he was ambivalent about the warehouse historic district at first, but he saw that the neighborhood groups, the Conservancy, and others were very involved, and this helped inform his thinking. Last night, Vega's vote, even if some criticize it as tepid, was also informed by public involvement. Remember, he not only voted for the 111 1st St settlement, he brokered it. There has been some push back from that, and he recognized that as well.

At the council meeting, it was not simply downtown residents who spoke against the amendments. There were people from the Heights, West Bergen and Bergen Hill as well, including one gentleman from the Monticello Development Corporation who wasn't there for that issue, but felt compelled to speak when he saw the outcry.

I speak from the perspective of someone who's been involved with the Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy for 7 years. There has always been some criticism that our focus is too much on downtown. But since the group's inception, it has effectively cultivated relationships all over the city. This includes representation on our board of directors, as well as with various "allies" on other projects. I have found, for example, that due to our work with the Reservoir Alliance and on proposed zoning changes to R-1, that we have developed a strong base of support in the Heights. Our work on St. John's Episcopal Church has created strong support in Bergen Hill.

Is it enough to, say, compel Bill Gaughan to vote no on the PAD amendments? It wasn't Wednesday night. But along with other factors, it twice beat back changes to zoning that would have allowed the proliferation of carports and curb cuts. We were told, point blank, by certain city officials that those amendments were a done deal, because Gaughan wanted them. It didn't turn out that way.

Ultimately, DanL hits the nail on the head. There is much more organizing and coalition building to be done. We all have to learn how to be that much stronger and more cooperative with one another.

Joshua Parkhurst
President
Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy

Posted on: 2008/4/11 13:54
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Re: Toll Brother's Travesty in the PAD
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Quote:

JCLAW wrote:
Facetious rhetorical question:

In what way do any of you on this board believe your political (or other) support is important to any councilperson other than the one from Ward E?

Sorry if the question might seem a bit caustic, but I want to try to stimulate you to think about how you can get better results in the future.


It's funny, as I read your post some similarities struck me between the votes here and the recent congestion pricing failure in NY. The non-Manhattan legislators couldn't see how the plan would benefit "their" constituents. Downtown is kinda the Manhattan of JC's boroughs, and gets the back of the hand when opportunity arises.

People never see that they might be the next victim. But downtowners were supportive of the Westside's battle against the Borg, I mean the warehouse cube plan on the river that Healy was in love with.

Part of the problem might be there's no "grand council of JC neighborhood groups", like a next level up from the existent Downtown Council of Neighborhood Associations (DCNA). Such a group might be able to help each ward see the benefit of mutual support in battles like this. Each time so far the wheel needs to be reinvented, like the warehouse, reservoir and sewers issues.

Scooter, thanks for the love, and interesting theory that they always meant to pitch the plan. Why not, if there's no downside?

Posted on: 2008/4/11 1:06
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Re: Toll Brother's Travesty in the PAD
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Facetious rhetorical question:

In what way do any of you on this board believe your political (or other) support is important to any councilperson other than the one from Ward E?

Just so you understand some ground rules:

1) You can get all the recognition you want in the Jersey Journal but no one reads it and no one in the City cares what it says.

2) Toll Brothers et. al. have much less political influence than you think they do - to the extent any of the developers donate to the current HCDO crop's political campaigns, it pales in comparison to the funds 'obtained' for them by trade unions, city vendors/contractors and government employees.

3) In politics, special interest groups only get special attention if their votes can be reliably directed to one spot on the ballot with little direct vote-getting effort. (These are often called 'single issue voters').

Sorry if the question might seem a bit caustic, but I want to try to stimulate you to think about how you can get better results in the future.

Posted on: 2008/4/11 0:21
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Re: Toll Brother's Travesty in the PAD
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Dan,

What's the point of fighting for any zoning covenant if they can simply toss it and start a whole new fight every time? I guess the councilmembers from other wards figure they're voters could care less about this, but who's plan is next? Is the reservoir going to be put on the table again to be made into ballfields? When is a win a win?

When I first joined the HPNA board there were members working their butts off on the Jersey Ave Redevelopment Zone Plan. Now I fully expect that when a big enough player want that one tossed, tossed it will be.

Posted on: 2008/4/10 22:02
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Re: Toll Brother's Travesty in the PAD
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I was struck by the passion and intelligence of those who came out to have their voices heard at this meeting.

I was also saddened by how horribly contentious things were. Booing and jeering at the council, etc. And the council members lack of attention paid during some of the public speakers... the council did seem to have their minds made up already.

And the irony of the approval of the Apple Tree House contractor hiring process was not lost on the crowd -- a quaint historical rehab project far from the \'gold coast\' is okay to go... after 10 or 20 yrs of effort to get attention to it, of course.

I hope there\'s some way to push back once again in the other direction... seems like Jersey City could have gotten a much better deal, to say the least. Not to mention, I\'m guessing there\'s been little talk of LEED compliance with these enormous towers proposed?

Posted on: 2008/4/10 21:47
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Re: Toll Brother's Travesty in the PAD
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Quote:

DanL wrote:
sad.

my comments about the above posts -

I believe that if there was any contention or possibility of the council rejecting the ammendments, Councilwoman Richardson would have been there. She has been consistant in her support since the original votes approving the historic district and PAD. Viola Richardson voted against the settlement with New Gold over 110 / 111 First St., she voted against the changes to accomodate the legal settlement and strip historic designation. I do not think her vote to introduce the ammendments at first reading should be construed as support for the ammendments. Councilwoman was the only other councilmember (besides Fulop) to vote yes to introduce the Redevelopment P2P Reform ordinance in January 2007, though from conversation, I do not believe she supported it and would not have voted for it into law. I have found her among the most accesible councilmembers and would not hesitate to approach her before / after a meeting.

I do not believe that her current aide, Lorenzo Richardson is a relation of the councilwoman (but have not fact checked this). He certainly qualifies with an accounting backgroud and leadership in the local NAACP chapter. From the feedback JCFBS people have descibed, he did a great job moderating a recent board of education candidates forum for the chapter.

I agree Council President Vega's opposition was a bit "threadbare". He voted no, just as the pubic asked him. However, this is not the first time he - Council President and three term councilmember was on the the losing side of a lopsided vote. One has to wonder why given his experience and leadership position, he was/is unable to gain the confidence and convince his fellow council members to support his position.

I have nothing more to say about PAD issue, only that more people must participate in the public process to stop similiar events from occuring.

Please support PADNA's legal defence fund!


DanL-

I just want to publicly thank you, the Kesslers, and the many others that I met when the first PAD ordinance was being developed and that one amazing night it was adopted. I agree with you on the comments of Councilwoman Richardson's consistency on this issue.

Also, I +1 your comment, that people must participate in the process. The Powerhouse and the Embankment are two names I want to add into the comment.

" more people must participate in the public process to stop similar events from occurring ie: "The Powerhouse and the 6th street Embankment".

So sad!

Posted on: 2008/4/10 21:30
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Re: Toll Brother's Travesty in the PAD
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sad.

my comments about the above posts -

I believe that if there was any contention or possibility of the council rejecting the ammendments, Councilwoman Richardson would have been there. She has been consistant in her support since the original votes approving the historic district and PAD. Viola Richardson voted against the settlement with New Gold over 110 / 111 First St., she voted against the changes to accomodate the legal settlement and strip historic designation. I do not think her vote to introduce the ammendments at first reading should be construed as support for the ammendments. Councilwoman was the only other councilmember (besides Fulop) to vote yes to introduce the Redevelopment P2P Reform ordinance in January 2007, though from conversation, I do not believe she supported it and would not have voted for it into law. I have found her among the most accesible councilmembers and would not hesitate to approach her before / after a meeting.

I do not believe that her current aide, Lorenzo Richardson is a relation of the councilwoman (but have not fact checked this). He certainly qualifies with an accounting backgroud and leadership in the local NAACP chapter. From the feedback JCFBS people have descibed, he did a great job moderating a recent board of education candidates forum for the chapter.

I agree Council President Vega's opposition was a bit "threadbare". He voted no, just as the pubic asked him. However, this is not the first time he - Council President and three term councilmember was on the the losing side of a lopsided vote. One has to wonder why given his experience and leadership position, he was/is unable to gain the confidence and convince his fellow council members to support his position.

I have nothing more to say about PAD issue, only that more people must participate in the public process to stop similiar events from occuring.

Please support PADNA's legal defence fund!

Posted on: 2008/4/10 20:25
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Re: THE VIDEO PROJECTED AT CITY COUNCIL MEETING LAST NIGHT
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sell outs each and every one! minus fulop and vega. I actually emailed richardson asking where the hell she was for such an important vote. I doubt I'll get a response. by the way, her aide has the same last name as she, a little nepotism maybe?

Posted on: 2008/4/10 19:38
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Besides Fulop & Vega, you'd might as well have a group of trained monkees up there.

Any time a developer want's something, you give the monkees a banana and they hit a button that lights up and says "YES".

Posted on: 2008/4/10 17:30
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Re: THE VIDEO PROJECTED AT CITY COUNCIL MEETING LAST NIGHT
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Jersey City OKs changes to arts district over staunch opposition
by Ken Thorbourne
Thursday April 10, 2008, 8:48 AM

Vowing to continue their fight in court, several dozen residents in and around Jersey City 's Powerhouse Arts District left last night's council meeting angry and frustrated after the council approved changes to the original plan to accommodate a developer.

By a vote of 6-2, the council approved height and density amendments to allow the developer, Toll Brothers, to build three towers 30 or more stories -- two of them at the site of the old Manischewitz factory at Morgan Street and Marin Boulevard and one across the street at Morgan and Warren streets.

"I find the Toll Brothers plan so inconceivably bad, I don't understand their (the council's) motivation for approving it," Jill Edelman, president of the Powerhouse Arts District Neighborhood Association, said after the vote.

Michael B. Kates, the group's attorney, said PADNA would file a lawsuit against the city within the next 45 days on the grounds that changing a 40-year plan after it's been in effect for only 3½ years constitutes a "breach of trust" with residents who have moved into the district.

The original redevelopment plan approved in 2004 called for projects limited to 10 stories filled with spacious "live/work" units for artists. This plan calls for 950 residential units, 12 of which would be live/work units and 32, affordable housing units.

Bill Matsikoudis, the city's top attorney, said PADNA has no grounds to sue the city since the council is entitled to change redevelopment plans.

Of the 45 people who spoke at last night's four-hour public hearing, all but three argued against making changes.

"It saddens me you can't see what this community has come to represent and you have the power to rip it apart," Carrie Craft, a resident of 140 Bay St., which is in the district and has artists housing, told the council.

Downtown Councilman Steve Fulop -- who was joined by City Council President Mariano Vega in rejecting the proposed changes -- lashed out at the rest of his colleagues for caving to "political pressure."

Fulop, who represents the PAD area, called his colleagues "deceitful" to residents, developers who built under the established rules and "older residents who thought we were past this kind of backroom (deal making)."

Other council members touted the plan's amenities -- a 550-seat performing arts theater that is coming with a $1.5 million subsidy from Toll Brothers, extensive gallery space, and the 24,000-square-foot Provost Plaza.

In addition, Toll Brothers is providing $2.8 million for affordable housing and restricting the 12 live/work units to 70 percent of market value.

"These are tremendous benefits for Jersey City as a whole," said Ward A Councilman Michael Sottolano, who along with council members Bill Gaughan, Peter Brennan, Willie Flood, Mary Spinello, and Steve Lipski voted for the changes.

Ward F Councilwoman Viola Richardson was absent.

"We are very happy and pleased," Toll Brothers Senior Vice President Benjamin D. Jogodnik said after the vote. "I think it's going to be a fantastic place for the arts."

Posted on: 2008/4/10 16:38
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Re: THE VIDEO PROJECTED AT CITY COUNCIL MEETING LAST NIGHT
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So they played that video last night showing all their self-congratulatory (especially Lipski) initial yes PAD votes from a couple years ago?

It would have been fun to see their reactions last night (if it were even possible to shame these people, that is).

Posted on: 2008/4/10 15:09
"Someday a book will be written on how this city can be broke in the midst of all this development." ---Brewster
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THE VIDEO PROJECTED AT CITY COUNCIL MEETING LAST NIGHT
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Posted on: 2008/4/10 12:46
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Re: Toll Brother's Travesty in the PAD
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Bill Matsikoudis, the city's top attorney, dismissed PADNA's grounds for a lawsuit.

"The city is not bound to maintain zoning laws that have been promulgated," Matsikoudis said. "The elected body and Planning Board can modify the zoning laws as they believe is in the best interest of the city."


Apart from the specifics of the PAD case, what bothers and amazes me is that the city corporate counsel essentially says that zoning and redevelopment plans, the products of long public negotiations to begin with, aren't worth the paper they're printed on and are completely subject to renegotiation at any time.

He's basically saying land use laws are for suckers without connections and cash. Did they pass the zoning to begin with so they could put the squeeze on developers in exchange for changes?

Posted on: 2008/4/9 15:38
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Re: Toll Brother's Travesty in the PAD
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PADNA wrote:
April 6, 2007


Re: Toll Brothers Development Plans for the Manischewitz and Caputo Lots in the PAD

Dear Friends,

As you know, the Powerhouse Arts District (PAD) is being redeveloped at lightning speed. As a neighborhood, our residents expect –indeed welcome –development. However, we believe this development should be done with an understanding of the intrinsic character of the neighborhood, a sense of history, and the wishes of its residents in mind.

As many Downtown residents recognize, the City’s failure to support its own laws as they related to the 111 First Street settlement established a precedent that developers could effectively negate zoning law which impacts their ability to maximize profits.

This precedent is now having a “domino effect” on other planned development in the PAD. A proposed development for the Manischewitz Matzo Factory lot and the adjacent “Caputo” lot (directly East) could represent the next domino to fall.

Toll Brothers, a national developer, is circulating a proposal to City Council and City Planning for the Manischewitz / Caputo sites that would radically change the look and feel of our growing neighborhood. If this proposal is approved, it will forever alter the scale and character of the PAD – and not for the better. The Toll proposal will among other things,

• Demolish irreplaceable historic warehouses,
• Double the building density permitted by law,
• Build four times higher than permitted by law,
• Appropriate and destroy one of the last cobblestone streets in Jersey City, and
• Cast large portions of the neighborhood into permanent shadow.

Developers, the City Administration, and the Planning Department agree that this proposal violates the PAD Redevelopment Plan – a long-term plan adopted by the City to encourage sensible and stable development of the area and to create a lively arts district to benefit all Jersey City residents. To date, the Redevelopment Plan has been very well received, spurring the development of a number of very successful projects.

Moreover, neither Toll nor the City has conducted environmental impact studies on how Toll’s proposed doubling in housing density would affect existing sewer, water and electrical service, traffic and parking within the immediate and surrounding neighborhoods, and overcrowding at the Grove Street PATH station and on trains.

Over the past several months, PADNA has worked diligently to make our concerns known – meeting with various City politicians and employees, members of the press, and repeatedly attempting to meet with Toll. In addition, we are conducting a door-to-door voter registration drive to ensure that we have a strong voice in the future of our neighborhood and the City in the next election.

However, we also have come to realize that we will need legal counsel to help us understand our options and the strategies we can use to enforce existing laws and the goals of the PAD Redevelopment Plan.

Accordingly, we are appealing to you to support the PADNA Legal Fund by donating $500, $1,000, or $5,000. While we will likely need tens of thousands of dollars to be effective, any amount that you or your organization is able to contribute will help us reach our goal. Any donated funds will be used solely to aid us in addressing the Toll Brothers proposal that intends to eviscerate a historic area of the City and other similar ill-advised future development.

Additionally, we encourage you and your members to get on our email list by writing to us at padna.communication@gmail.com. We will keep you up to date with all breaking news. Please visit our new website at www.padnajc.org

If we don’t stop the Manischewitz/Caputo domino from falling, the Powerhouse Arts District, as sensibly envisioned in 2002, will cease to exist. There are many dominos located throughout Downtown. We can either choose to stand up now or look forward to fighting this battle elsewhere as
the same sort of developer greed creeps into other historic Jersey City neighborhoods.

Sincerely,



Rich Tomko
PADNA President

P.S.: Please make checks out to “PADNA”, with “Legal Fund” written in the memo section, and mail to the PADNA, PO Box 3834, Jersey City, NJ 07303-3834. Please contact us at
padna.communication@gmail.com with your comments or thoughts. The Powerhouse Arts District Neighborhood Association is a New Jersey Nonprofit Corporation, and all contributions are non-refundable and tax-deductible; we will send you a receipt for tax purposes.

PADNA Board
Janine Berger (VP, Marketing), Jill Edelman (At Large), Sanket Khanna (VP, Communications), Kevin Pollack (At
Large), Kara Tomko (Secretary), Mike Wentzel (Treasurer).

PADNA Development Committee
Jill Edelman,- Head, Development Committee (Architect), Evan Gourvitz (Attorney), Brian Gustufson
(Artist/Professor of Art NJCU), Robert Koch (Artist), Kathy Kocian (Graphic Design), Kathryn Leonard (Media),
Margaret Santos (Architect/Professor, Temple University), Antonio Santos (Architect/Professor of City Planning
NJIT)), Marc Simon (Architect/Commercial Real Estate Broker), Leigh Smith (Attorney), and Rich Tomko (Media)



Toll Brothers Development Plan Summary

The following is a summary of what Toll Brothers is permitted to do under existing city law (the PAD Redevelopment Plan) and the details we have been able to gather regarding Toll Brothers’ new development proposal.

As you will note, Toll’s development plan is in direct conflict with the language and the spirit of the PAD Redevelopment Plan. It shows a complete disregard for the scale of the neighborhood, as well as the texture and character of the existing warehouses.

March 2006. Toll Brothers - a national luxury housing developer - purchased the Manischewitz matzo factory (Lot 171).

Fall/Winter 2006. After the City’s settlement of the 111 First Street lawsuits, Toll Brothers also acquired a majority stake in the adjacent lot (Lot 140, commonly called the Caputo Lot), through a joint venture with Hoboken-based developer Fields Development Group.

December 2006. Toll Brothers began circulating their vision for the development of the Manischewitz/Caputo sites which includes:

- All existing structures on both sites, including the two historic warehouses, would be demolished.
- The Manischewitz and Caputo sites would be joined, tearing up Provost Street - one of Jersey City’s last remaining cobblestone streets. Toll proposes to replace the
cobblestones with a 200’ x 200’ concrete plaza between the two building bases.

Manischewitz Lot (Lot 171):

Permitted by existing law:
- The 6-story warehouse (formerly the A&P Annex) at the eastern side of the site would be rehabilitated. The remainder of the site could be leveled and built new.
- New construction would have a maximum FAR (Floor Area Ratio) of 7, a height limit of 90’ (excluding setback penthouses) and maximum lot coverage of 80%.

Tolls Development plans:
- Demolish the historic A&P Annex building
- Erect a 200’ x 310’ five-story retail and parking base, filling out almost the entire block.
- Two wall-like towers on top of the parking base, oriented East/West - essentially blocking all sun to 150 Bay Street.
- Both towers would rise from the lot lines and have no setbacks.
o The southwest tower would rise 409 feet – more than four times the legal limit.
o The northeast tower would rise 329 feet – more than three times the legal limit.
- A proposed FAR approaching 15 – more than twice the legal limit.

Caputo Lot (Lot 140):

Permitted by existing law:
- The 5-story J. Leo Cooke warehouse at the eastern edge of the site would be rehabilitated and turned into residential units and ground floor retail and galleries.
- The 2-story warehouse at the southeast corner of the site would be rehabilitated and converted into a black box theater.
- New construction up to 170’ high, without setbacks of residential units, would take place on the site of the former parking lot. There will be ground-floor retail and galleries as outlined by the PAD plan.

Tolls Development Plans:
- Demolish the historic J Leo Cooke warehouse building
- Erect a 200’ x 200’ seven-story retail and parking base, filling out almost the entire block.
- One wall-like tower across the entire base, oriented East/West, blocking all sun to 140 Bay Street.
o The tower will rise 288 feet - almost twice the legal limit.
o Provost Street, one of the last cobblestone streets in Jersey City, would be taken over and torn up by Toll to create a 200’ x 200’ concrete plaza between the two bases.

For visual representations of the proposed Toll Brothers plans for the Manischewitz and Caputo sites and the legally approved development rights, click here http://www.padnajc.org/Keeping_the_PAD.html

They (Troll Bros.) have more money. It's theirs to do what they please.

Posted on: 2008/4/9 15:29
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Re: Toll Brother's Travesty in the PAD
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Powerhouse area residents threaten suit

Wednesday, April 09, 2008
By KEN THORBOURNE
JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

In advance of tonight's public hearing on proposed changes to the Powerhouse Arts District Redevelopment Plan, residents there say they are prepared to sue if the changes are adopted.

Jill Edelman, president of the Powerhouse Arts District Neighborhood Association (PADNA), said yesterday her group will sue on the grounds the changes being sought to accommodate a proposed development by Toll Brothers turns a blind eye to central planks of the original redevelopment plan - chief among them its call for mostly spacious "live/work" units artists can use and the preservation of existing structures.

"We see this as the destruction of the neighborhood," Edelman said. "They are diminishing the number of live/work units by 98 percent. They are putting the existing neighborhood into the shadows" given the 30-, 35-and 40-story towers Toll Brothers proposes to build, Edelman added.

James McCann, the attorney representing Toll Brothers, didn't return a phone call.

Bill Matsikoudis, the city's top attorney, dismissed PADNA's grounds for a lawsuit.

"The city is not bound to maintain zoning laws that have been promulgated," Matsikoudis said. "The elected body and Planning Board can modify the zoning laws as they believe is in the best interest of the city."

Ward A Councilman Michael Sottolano said,"I'm not really influenced by veiled threats. "I don't think any occupation is entitled to special consideration."

The Toll Brothers plan, which incorporates the facade of the old Manischewitz plant at Morgan Street and Marin Boulevard, calls for creating roughly 950 units - 11 of which would be live/work units for artists and price-restricted to 70 percent of market value.

The plans also call for a performing arts theater with gallery space and the 24,000-square-foot Provost Square plaza. Thirty-two "workforce housing" units would be also be built on a vacant lot at Marin Boulevard and Bay Street.

Posted on: 2008/4/9 10:26
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Re: Toll Brother\'s Travesty in the PAD
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exactly, I think your long response convinced yourself....

yes preserving a cobblestone street flanked by historic buildings with bars, restaurants, clubs and galleries is exactly what PAD is/was about.......

density, I think we need Ianmac to give us a round up of all of the planned skyscraper residential development within blocks of what was PAD.... Metro Plaza (Pep Boys, Shoprite, BJs) 60+ stories, Newport, remaining waterfront, south Columbus II etc, with or without rezoning PAD we will be swamped with 10,000's of new nearby new residents....

we are long past discussing the merits of PAD, what is happening now is a demonstration of how the JC government decision making process has broken down and subservant to special interests well beyond what exists in what is supposed to be representitive government. You would be hardpressed to find any participant free of conflicts of interest.

if the public does not push back, those that stay here will have there quality of like impacted...

good luck

Quote:

JCmorganSt wrote:

....
And why don\'t we do something like Stone Street, that would be great in the PAD. A nice cobble stone street with a beer garden, etc...

To bring in the right types of developers, investors, and retail people we need to offer them something in return whether that is more density, or a higher foot count.

Posted on: 2008/4/1 14:27
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Re: Toll Brother\'s Travesty in the PAD
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The Sugar House is great I think that is one of the best small projects in Hudson county. I think the truth is the developers can’t afford to make a profit with that scale of a project anymore. When the Sugar house was converted they bought that building for much less than what it would be in todays market, hence there ability to make a profit at a smaller scale, the bottom line is times have changed for the better and Jersey City is on the map as desirable place to live, people are coming out of NY and the Jersey Suburbs to live here... that wasn\'t so much the case 8 years ago) And if you have been living in JC for 8 years you have seen great appreciation in you home value. Could you have afforded your house today and made the renovations you have made over the years if you had to do it at today’s prices? I would think 8 years ago you could have bought in the PAD for ~$250-$300 per sq foot (if that) now its between ~$500-$700 that s 2x-3x delta for everyone including Toll Brothers. I am not saying don\'t renovate that warehouses I just understand why they cant, and if the choice is high-rise or nothing i would rather see the high-rise than to see the warehouse sit like that for another 10 years. And if that means they have to be torn down.... I will be okay with that.

I can\'t blame the counsil, im sure the developers came back to the table at the 11th hour and said they couldn\'t afford to make the project the way it is. Don\'t forget the banks are not lending money they way they were 3-2-1 years ago ever 6 months ago. To get the lending to build is much differnt today then ever in history. Look at what is happening with Bear, Citi, Merrill, Wachovia etc... Trump was built on a 97% LTV no bank has the ability to write that loan today, its more like 60-75% LTV (which means they have to write the 40%-25% check out of their cash balance sheet that is much different than it was 2 years ago. On a $100M project they would only have to put up $3M-$5M, now they need to put up $25M-$40M the banks take the rest of the risk. But that is a material change from what is was. And if they are going to do that they need to assure their stock holders, board members, banks etc... that the project is 100% a viable project). I don\'t know if you read the last 10Q for Toll Brothers, but it wasn\'t that good.

Plus the increase in the population/density can only help bring the foot traffic to all the places everyone has mentioned they like to eat, drink of hang out. With these new people spending money they will have eventually attracting more retail stores to take a chance at opening new places in our area. In the long run we need change and as much as i hate to say it but if Toll is willing to write the check, and clean up two warehouse and build an art center at the cost of losing a warehouse and building a high-rise....Okay.

Look at what is happening in Downtown Manhattan, once an area that was only business and not desirable to live at all. Now with all the high-rise conversion and new construction its one of the fastest growth sections in NY. Places like 10 Hanover Sq, Beaver House, 20 Pine, and 60 Wall are just a the ones I can think of. Those builders did the same thing, property was very cheap down there, especially after 9-11 they took a risk that paid off. If you wanted to build in downtown today it would cost you 3x-5x more than it did when they started 7 years ago.

And why don\'t we do something like Stone Street, that would be great in the PAD. A nice cobble stone street with a beer garden, etc...

To bring in the right types of developers, investors, and retail people we need to offer them something in return whether that is more density, or a higher foot count.

And not to argue but walking along Provost, Warren at night isn\'t the safest feeling. I know there isn\'t crime but it also doesn\'t feel safe either.

Posted on: 2008/4/1 12:46
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Re: Toll Brother's Travesty in the PAD
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JCmorganSt wrote:
Hooray for Toll Brothers!!!!!!!!
I live in the PAD too, and I love the fact that all the Redevelopment is happening.


Of course REDEVELOPMENT is happening - 150 Bay, 140 Bay, the Powerhouse (someday) and back in the 90s - Morgan Lofts. A perfectly good plan was approved before Fields sold the property to Toll - In this plan they submitted the original warehouses in question were included - not to be torn down. But Toll is ASKING to tear down the warehouses that are in the PAD plan to be redeveloped AND rip up Provost Street. What they're proposing is NEW DEVELOPMENT, not redevelopment. They could build it anywhere else in the JC. City Council DOESN'T HAVE TO amend anything. They should stick to their PAD Plan.
This variance seeking has kept all other projects on hold because of city officials' inability to be consistent. What's going to happen when Butler Brothers starts to grumble louder - 160 First is about to start hopping up in down with clenched fists - wanting to be taller too.
Your REDEVELOPMENT would have been halfway done if the city had a spine and stopped bending over to developers and make the already approved - BUILD their darn buildings.

Quote:

wouldn't allow my wife to walk the streets at night through that area (although crime is low, it just doesn't feel safe).


We walk our dogs in the middle of the night. Not a suspicious person lurking anywhere. You are imagining a dangerous place.

Quote:

Second those buildings are ugly (they resemble crack houses); I don't know how you could renovate those buildings to attract anyone.


Do you know what a crack house looks like? Are there scary drug addicts sleeping on the sidewalks? No.
- 140 and 150 Bay used to look a bit rough - but they cleaned up pretty good.

Quote:

Third and most important which no one mentions, is MONEY.


We shelled out some $ to buy a loft four years ago (pre-construction) - waited two years for the redevelopment to finish. We bought into the PAD plan - our building was re-built according to the Plan. We are here for the long run - not interested in flipping property. Some of us have been in downtown JC since the eighties.

Quote:

So if Toll is willing to write the check to clean up our PAD and make it a more desirable location, I applaud them.


Right now they are helping us pick up trash!* Did you come out for the PAD Neighborhood Clean Up this past weekend? Do you think a shoe-box-rental-high rise development is our only hope to clean up "our" PAD - to literally clean up - the dog poop, commuter trash and shopping carts left by crappy neighbors too cheap to buy their own buggy or pick up their dog's crap? YOU have to make an effort to clean up the neighborhood. Or put your money where you mouth is and donate $$ (or your time) - maybe with your help PADNA can put aside money to pay the Doe Fund guys to help keep our streets clean year round. We don't want to wait three to five years for the NEW development to clean up "our" PAD. Do it now!
PADNA is working to make it a better neighborhood, to actually create a neighborhood. Get to know your neighbors and you won't be so afraid to walk the streets at night.
* Toll and CitySide Archives came and helped out with the clean up the day before.
They (Toll Brothers) are not the enemy, never have been - I don't hate Toll Brothers - But I am disappointed with the planning board and city council - we want Jersey City to stick to the plan they created.

Quote:

All I would only ask of the town council is to have a heavy hand in the decision making as to how the buildings will look, and the quality of the work is superior so that the end product will attract the upper echelon.


All this can be accomplished without tearing down the warehouses. Build buildings to the scale of the neighborhood and to Grove Street/Newark St. to the west of the PAD.

Posted on: 2008/4/1 2:21
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Re: Toll Brother's Travesty in the PAD
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I have a great solution, why don't you two raise the $100M needed to renovate these buildings.

good one.

....how dare someone take issue with the city for retroactively jettisoning the Redevelopment Plan!!

...someone *without* the $100M, yet - why, the effrontery!


"Just think about the ratables" and how they will surely trickle down to the grateful lower echelons and their horrid little public school system! (as if there won't be an abatement bypassing the schools...)


I kid. I kid because I love.

Posted on: 2008/3/31 14:46
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Re: Toll Brother's Travesty in the PAD
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3rdandwild wrote:
IMO. people don't want dozen more 40-storie high buildings though.



SOME people don't want a dozen more towers.

Its inaccurate to assess the wants and needs of the city based on the personal opinion of a few outspoken individuals. Based on the fact that 8 members of the council voted in favor of allowing the towers, I would wager they are doing so based on the belief that their constituents either want the towers, or at the very least are apathetic to their construction. They do have to be re-elected at some point, and all the corruption and machine politics in the world can't overcome an angered public.

Making assumptions on public opinion based on a small selection of people is simply inaccurate. You could survey a church congregation, and based on that survey conclude that 99 to 100 percent of the population believes in a Christian god; but that response should be obvious if the only people in the survey are already attending a Christian Church, and that doesn't mean that represents a population as a whole.

It would seem that those who post on this board are already predisposed to be against high rise development, so its more likely that posters on this board are going to be against high rise development in the PAD, but that doesn't make that the prevailing opinion of the city as a whole.

Posted on: 2008/3/31 14:27
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Re: Toll Brother's Travesty in the PAD
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3rdandwild wrote:
JCmorganSt ,
It's not that people are against redevelopment. It is because the city changed its original plan and changed max height regulation, etc.

IMO. people don't want dozen more 40-storie high buildings though.

If the city is changing its plan only a few years into their 30 (or was it 40?) years plan, wonder what's gonna happen next....

It's called a variance they issue it as a loophole around the zoning codes.

Posted on: 2008/3/31 14:21
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Re: Toll Brother's Travesty in the PAD
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Don't get confused on the Class A, (I don’t mean to offend anyone) I simply meant that right now there a are a handful of undesirable warehouses (if your going to allow new projects why not build something high end vs something on the low end - build it right to secure our future).

By building a highrise 30 stories or 40 stories, 50, 60 whatever (whats the difference?).

Builders are under huge pressure, cost of construction, land cost, and soft cost adds up very quickly in Hudson County. If someone is willing to write the check and take on that risk, they need to be incentivized to do so, hence their request for density.

Just think about the ratables a 40 story building with an average purchase price of $800K will mean to the town, vs what is there now. (800,000*.018)*350 units= $5,040,000 tax dollars per annum. I haven't pulled the tax record for the property today but Im sure it is much lower than that.

Posted on: 2008/3/31 14:16
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Re: Toll Brother's Travesty in the PAD
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JCmorganSt , you should read throughfully before posting your opinion.

It's not that people are against redevelopment. It is because the city changed its original plan and changed max height regulation, etc.

The area will be cleaned out and turned into something much more attractive for your "class A" people regardless.

IMO. people don't want dozen more 40-storie high buildings though.

If the city is changing its plan only a few years into their 30 (or was it 40?) years plan, wonder what's gonna happen next....

Posted on: 2008/3/31 14:02
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Re: Toll Brother's Travesty in the PAD
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I have a great solution, why don't you two raise the $100M needed to renovate these buildings.

Otherwise they stay the way they are, which isn't attractive nor does it generate the tax revenue that those sites can produce.

Also, raise the money to build the Prevost project which will also create great value for everyone in the county. (Thats another $100M)

Posted on: 2008/3/31 13:57
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Re: Toll Brother's Travesty in the PAD
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JCmorganSt wrote:
Hooray for Toll Brothers!!!!!!!!
I live in the PAD too, and I love the fact that all the Redevelopment is happening. I understand people’s concerns about conserving the historic factory buildings, but lets call a spade a spade. As of right now, I wouldn't allow my wife to walk the streets at night through that area (although crime is low, it just doesn't feel safe). Second those buildings are ugly (they resemble crack houses); I don't know how you could renovate those buildings to attract anyone. Third and most important which no one mentions, is MONEY. It cost a ton of money to renovate/ build anything especially downtown JC. Everyone complains, yet I didn't see you break out your checkbooks to place a bid for any of these projects to build to your personal specs, and the reason you didn’t is because there are only a few firms in the northeast that can make that size of an investment. So if Toll is willing to write the check to clean up our PAD and make it a more desirable location, I applaud them. And if they need greater density to make a profit then so be it (you wouldn’t do it for free). All I would only ask of the town council is to have a heavy hand in the decision making as to how the buildings will look, and the quality of the work is superior so that the end product will attract the upper echelon. In 5-10 years the PAD will be more desirable than anywhere else in Hudson county if we do it correctly. Inside A and Trump are turning out to be great projects with class A tenants.
Does anyone know how Onyx Equity is doing with 30 Montgomery, I am really excited to see what happens there. Columbus Circle is a great location in NY, if they turn that project into something like that, this town will skyrocket!


What a Douche. Perhaps the Douchiest Shill post ever. "Class A" douche.

Posted on: 2008/3/31 13:30
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