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Redevelopment Reform
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Common Cause New Jersey



(Mar 8)

Bill to Change Course of Redevelopment Decisions


Yesterday, the Citizens'Campaign and Senator Karcher announced our "Redevelopment Reform & Pay-to-Play Protection Act," which will curb the influence of pay-to-play contributions in the redevelopment arena and create greater accountability to citizens with respect to redevelopment decisions.


Because of the rapidly increasing amount of development in New Jersey, these large scale projects are magnets for pay-to-play cash. The redevelopment decisions are being made with broad discretion and a lack of citizen oversight. This piece of legislation will change that.


There are seven major components of the proposed Redevelopment Reform and Pay-to-Play Protection Act:



* Ban pay-to-play contributions by redevelopers from the onset of the redevelopment process to the completion of the redevelopment agreement.

* Ban pay-to-play contributions by the Redeveloper's consultants-i.e. attorney's, engineers and political consultants, while working on redevelopment projects.

* Eliminate the "Smart Growth" basis for authorizing the designation of an "Area in Need of Redevelopment" and for use of the Eminent Domain power.

* Expand transparency of the redevelopment process with expansion of the public notice requirements covering citizens outside the boundaries in the area of prospective redevelopment.

* Increase accountability in the redevelopment process by creating earlier and expanded opportunities for public questions and input at Planning Board and Council meetings to consider redevelopment decisions.

* Require annual disclosure by Redevelopers to the Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC).

* Application of this law would be comprehensive as it governs redevelopment projects at the state, county and local level, including the Meadowlands Commission and all independent authorities.

Posted on: 2006/5/26 13:49
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Re: Ledger article about building boom downtown
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How this city can be broke in the midst of a historic RE boom is going to be a great book someday.



exactly. exactlyexactlyexactly

Posted on: 2006/5/22 15:46
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Re: Ledger article about building boom downtown
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There won't be a sea of new kids from these luxury condos using JC's public schools


Parents living in tax-abated condos already are sending huge floods of children into Learning Community Charter School (only 25 percent of the kids who apply through the kindergarten lottery are getting in) and P.S. 16/Bradford (a public school in Paulus Hook which has no playground but does have a great principal, great teachers and a genuinely diverse mix of students.)

Once the new condos go up, getting a child into Learning Community, Cordero or the downtown private schools will be next to impossible.

The one good side effect is that a flood of downtown condo kids might lead to a lot of improvement at the marginal downtown schools -- Cordero, Conti, Conwill.

Posted on: 2006/5/22 14:20
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Re: Ledger article about building boom downtown
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Muffintops

I'm not sure once you get out of the tourist area that Hong Kong is much cleaner than any other big city.

http://flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=5 ... ext=set-72057594048108990

http://flickr.com/photos/eddielaw/set ... 4048108990/with/43765904/

Quote:

muffintops wrote:
---"It's like Hong Kong," Mayor Jerramiah Healy said. ----
Yes - except Hong Kong is and always will be 10 million times cleaner streetwise than JC. arg - what a bad comparison.


And Brewster,
I almost bought a place on Morningside Park & 120th Street -- I am glad I bought here instead.

I think there are lots of parks here - Liberty State - Hamilton - Van V and the other parks that I don't know the names of on Brunswick near 10th street and the other one with Ball fields under the turnpike -- also if the embankment happens that will add even more (I would be happy if it does become a light rail & bike walkway It would be ashame if it is just a light rail track.) Anyway I think once the waterfront walkway-park is completed and we can walk and bike all up and down the Hudson River we will really have something.

I think Downtown is pretty lucky as far as parks go. I do like that people like yourself keep after the city and the developers, but I do think Healy is trying to get as much development in the tube for downtown (before the real estate market tanks) and I think this is good for Downtown's future -- it might be ten years or more till we see a boom like this -- if ever.

There won't be a sea of new kids from these luxury condos using JC's public schools and the city will be getting a lot more money from these new people than if it did nothing to bring them here. We are talking about 30,000 or more well off people coming to downtown.

I like the new faces and I feel safer already - this is great for downtown - we all need to lose our cars! We also should pick up trash ourselves and stop the whining. It's our town!

Posted on: 2006/5/21 20:15

Edited by GrovePath on 2006/5/21 20:33:01
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Re: Ledger article about building boom downtown
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RABBITRABBIT wrote:
[quote]]Hey Healy - how bout fixing the overturned garbage can on Wayne and jersey before you agree to another tax abated high rise. It's been two freaking weeks![/b]


Amen. Nothing like nonstop potholes, overturned garbage and $1 million dollar one-bedroom condos to make me feel like I live in the greatest town in the world! Woohoo!

Posted on: 2006/5/21 20:08
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Re: Ledger article about building boom downtown
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GrovePath wrote:
Give me the crowds -- you can always put up another baby swing"


No, in the broader sense, you can't. Once wall to wall development has taken place with no creation of greenspace other than tiny patches like they have in Newport, you can't go in and build a decent park.

I'm an ex-manhattanite who also applauds the positives of our continuing gentrification, but one of the places I lived was Morningside Heights, with Morningside Park, Riverside Park and Central Park all within an easy walk. A great city is more than just coffee bars and sushi.

What's going on here is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and JC is blowing it by it's doing business as usual, without any overall vision. You should see the plans Lefrak has for 10th st. They want significant increases in density and height for 3 buildings by giving tiny "parks" on each property. The real joke is that they will be out of sight on top the embankment!

Posted on: 2006/5/21 19:58
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Re: Ledger article about building boom downtown
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---"It's like Hong Kong," Mayor Jerramiah Healy said. ----


Yes - except Hong Kong is and always will be 10 million times cleaner streetwise than JC. arg - what a bad comparison.

Posted on: 2006/5/21 19:52
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Re: Ledger article about building boom downtown
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Donald Trump is building two towers, one 50 stories and the other 55. Big suburban players like Toll Bros. and K. Hovnanian Homes are building their own large-scale residential buildings.

"It's like Hong Kong," Mayor Jerramiah Healy said.


Do you think Healy even KNOWS where Hong Kong is?

Hey Healy - how bout fixing the overturned garbage can on Wayne and jersey before you agree to another tax abated high rise. It's been two freaking weeks!

Posted on: 2006/5/21 19:13
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Re: Ledger article about building boom downtown
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I like that Healy said "Residents are going to have to start living like they do in Manhattan. You have several PATH stops and light rail, so you don't need a car."

I think he is telling it as it is! Too many people downtown are only worried that they will have trouble parking in the future.

I also liked that when asked whether he believed the rush of new development was going too far, Healy said: "I'm not going to say there is too much success, too much prosperity. This city was hurting for a long time. I'm happy for whatever interest, investment and development done in Jersey City."

We are lucky that this is happening for Downtown Jersey City -- if you don't want to live in a much safer place, a place more like manhattan then move up to the heights, or out to the burbs -- I hope downtown ends up very much like Manhattan and Brooklyn. Give me the crowds -- you can always put up another baby swing"

Posted on: 2006/5/21 18:55
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Re: Ledger article about building boom downtown
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Yeah, all those people staying here with their kids, except that if they live in a abated property they pay no school taxes.

What also amazes me is that while proximity to parks is a staple of the realty ads, not one of the local developers is actually willing to build a real one. The city is too broke and inept to even maintain what it has, so we get 15k new apartments and no new parkspace for them.

For example, Hamilton Park will be the local park all the new development on 10th, Brunswick, and up Jersey and Coles to the Hoboken line, and split the Grove Pointe-Marin traffic with VVP. The wait for a kiddie swing will seem like Disneyworld.

How this city can be broke in the midst of a historic RE boom is going to be a great book someday. It's too bad we don't have a local newspaper. (sarcasm)

Posted on: 2006/5/21 18:21
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Re: Ledger article about building boom downtown
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Great four page article -- It was picked up in countless papers all over the country -- it's even in Newsday -- I am reprinting it here because sometimes old computers crash when going to news sites. Great time to be in Jersey City -- Lots of new faces of people from Manhattan and Brooklyn moving in!
______________________________
BUILDING BOOM

The wholesale revitalization of Jersey City is exciting, but not without growing pains

Sunday, May 21, 2006
BY STEVE CHAMBERS
Star-Ledger Staff

There's a gold rush happening on New Jersey's Gold Coast.

Within an eight-block radius of City Hall in Jersey City, a half- dozen heavy duty cranes stand like giraffes looking over an unprecedented wave of residential development.

Consider that 4,600 housing units are under construction in the city and another 4,400 are approved. Ten thousand more -- vir tually all in luxury skyscrapers -- are planned during the next decade, an infusion of wealth and highly educated professionals into a city many had given up for dead a generation ago.

And these are no fly-by-night developers. Donald Trump is building two towers, one 50 stories and the other 55. Big suburban players like Toll Bros. and K. Hovnanian Homes are building their own large-scale residential buildings.

"It's like Hong Kong," Mayor Jerramiah Healy said.

With growth like this, no other city in New Jersey is likely to change its character as much as Jersey City over the next 10 years. City fathers say it will become a sixth borough of New York, with all its fabulous wealth and exciting night life.

But it will come at a cost.

The city already has huge demographic divides. The downtown below the Palisades and along the Hudson River has been transformed from a Latino barrio to an increasingly wealthy, white and Asian enclave over the past two decades.

The money is creeping up the hill, but the downtown still has the feel of a separate city. Brownstones the city all but gave away during the early 1980s sell for nearly $1 million. Parks like Hamilton and Van Vorst are filled with young children, and residents are no longer moving away to the suburbs after their children reach school age.

These downtown newcomers have, in recent years, begun to mo bilize more against the rapid growth, packing Planning Board meetings to force concessions from developers and grumbling about the coming traffic and the shortage of open space.

"Honestly, it is exciting, but it's also a little frightening," said Vale rio Luccio, who chairs the Downtown Coalition of Neighborhood Associations. "It's also tiring. I feel like I am going from meeting to meeting to hold down the fort. I feel like the little boy with his finger in the dike."

REVERSING THE LONG DECLINE

Developers insist they are only scratching the surface of incredible demand. They point to Manhattan's high prices and commuter weariness in the suburbs.

"Jersey City is the best-kept se cret," said Peter Mocco, who plans 7,000 residential units at Liberty Harbor North. "The more people who find out about it, the better it is for everyone. It's so exciting. I don't believe with all the development under construction or planned that we will meet the need."

Carl Goldberg, whose Roseland Property three years ago finished a 40-story residential building close to the waterfront called Marbella, said it has one vacant apartment. This despite rental prices that start at $1,750 for studios and rise to $3,815 for three bedrooms.

"The urban lifestyle once predicted for the Gold Coast is finally coming into its own," he said. "It's a maturation of the lifestyle. All the quality-of-life elements are there: mass transportation, retail opportunities, a restaurant scene."

Like most cities in New Jersey, Jersey City had been on a long slow slide in population since the early 1900s, when Irish and Polish immi grants packed its crowded tenements.

With the rise of the suburbs after World War II, it accelerated, bleeding 80,000 residents until it reached a low of 220,000 in 1980. In 2000, it reached 240,000, nearly passing Newark to become the state's largest city.

ADDING A CITY

Given the flood of new construction -- it will add as many housing units as entire cities like Montclair by the next census -- the race for bragging rights may well be over.

Beginning in the 1980s, desperate city officials got things going by creating several downtown historic districts, selling units the city had seized for nonpayment of taxes for $8,000 and offering tax breaks that made them free. Then, a few deep- pocketed investors gambled on the waterfront, starting the Newport complex in 1986.

The key to the resurrection of the downtown was the PATH system -- with its direct rail links to Midtown Manhattan and Wall Street -- and some of the best views of the New York skyline anywhere. As New York City began its own climb, it dragged Jersey City with it.

PATH makes three stops downtown, which already boasts more office space than Denver or Cleveland, and has five historic districts filled with century-old brownstones and a growing number of luxury residential skyscrapers.

Daily ridership from those stops has steadily risen in recent years to surpass the previous highs realized before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

Development got another boost beginning in 2000 with the coming of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, which acts like a modern-day trolley and has virtually blanketed the downtown with rail lines.

Some of the most explosive growth in recent years has followed that rail line west. Paulus Hook, a historic district on the southeast side of the downtown is now virtu ally built out, and growth is pressing west to Mocco's site, where the first of 26 new city blocks are going up on what had been a vacant dumping ground for construction debris.

The project is beginning with 667 townhouses and apartments built in lower-rise brick structures meant to mimic the adjacent Van Vorst historic district. But as the development continues south, plans call for 30-story buildings along the Morris Canal facing Liberty State Park.

WHAT THE RESIDENTS SAY

Friday morning, a steady stream of commuters and residents pushing strollers or walking dogs passed through Van Vorst Park, an oasis of green and quiet near the construction sites.

Margaret Whalley, 43, a mas sage therapist, and her husband moved to the city three years ago from Manhattan, partly because they thought it was a great place to raise two children. They had lived in the same neighborhood eight years ago and noticed big changes in their absence.

"The new restaurants are nice, but I hope it doesn't lose its edge with all the growth," Whalley said. "The diversity is great, and it's not as crowded as Manhattan. But I guess change is coming. It's inevitable."

Leila Haddad, 39, agreed. The owner of a caf? called Sweet Pris cilla, Haddad said she wonders if the 100-year-old sewer system, narrow road grid and sparse park space can handle the flood of new development. Like many others, she is worried recent tax hikes might drive out old timers -- even herself.

Still, she marvels at the changes. Her brownstone has tripled in value since she bought it eight years ago for $325,000.

"Traffic is already becoming a nightmare," she said. "But mostly I see positive changes. There is broad revitalization. People are raising children here, and they seem to be hanging in there after they're old enough to go to school."

There has been a bit more squawking in nearby sections like Hamilton Park, where residents are lobbying City Hall to create a park on a former railroad embankment that runs down Sixth Street.

URBAN FEVER

Mayor Healy said he would prefer to see a new light-rail line linking the waterfront through an existing tunnel called the Bergen Arches to the underutilized New Jersey Turnpike Exit 15X in the Meadowlands. Commuter lots or garages there could ferry thou sands of people downtown without clogging roads, he said.

"Residents are going to have to start living like they do in Manhattan," he said. "You have several PATH stops and light rail, so you don't need a car."

Asked whether he believed the rush of new development was going too far, Healy said: "I'm not going to say there is too much suc cess, too much prosperity. This city was hurting for a long time. I'm happy for whatever interest, investment and development done in Jersey City."

Stephen Marks, director of planning for Hudson County, said intense development is beginning to tax roads, parks and schools. There is room to grow, he added, but only if proper investments are made by developers and the state.

"It's an exciting time, and we are looking to double the amount of park space," he said. "But we can't do it alone."

The urban development fever has infected some of the state's most entrenched suburban builders -- ones who helped make sprawl a dirty word by putting up countless subdivisions on farm fields.

Toll Bros. is building a 230-unit high-rise on the northern end of the downtown, and K. Hovnanian Homes has already built one project in Paulus Hook. Hovnanian, the state's largest developer, also is negotiating to purchase a downtown lot and convert two approved office towers into a residential project.

"It's a reflection of how effective the state's land-use policies have been," said Doug Fenichel, a Hovnanian spokesman. "We've become an urban builder."

Steve Chambers covers land-use issues. He may be reached at scham bers@starledger.com or (973) 392-1674.

Posted on: 2006/5/21 15:30

Edited by GrovePath on 2006/5/21 16:23:45
Edited by GrovePath on 2006/5/21 16:26:11
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Ledger article about building boom downtown
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It's so exciting to live downtown during all of this.

Building Boom

Posted on: 2006/5/21 14:30
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