Lot 106 and Lot 112 are in a Redevelopment Zone granted by the City Council on 8/15 through an agreement that followed a 2020 Planning Board acceptance development plan from Hoboken’s largest minority property owner, Pegasus. In naming it redeveloper, Councilman Jim Doyle expressed enthusiasm for the project, which survived a 45-day challenge period after passage. If the plan is found to be out of compliance, under the agreement, the City must provide conforming conditions. On the basis of it violating lot-coverage ratios, the planning board has rejected the site plan for the lot 106 application, which includes 351 apartments, a 281-room hotel, 40,000 square feet of publicly oriented space, and support of the American Legion 18-unit veteran housing development.
The validity of the planning board’s rejection comes under question because it applied a coverage ratio calculation looking down at the building, rather than from the book as required by the zoning book. However, even if the measurement was appropriate, the City is obligated to provide a resolution but the Mayor’s office has refused, saying it and preferred to be sued by the developer than by Mayor Stack, who opposes the development, which is 40’ above the level of the Palisades, on the basis that it blocks views of his residents, has proposed legislation to prevent construction that has not moved out of committee.
The Board’s activity, the City’s inaction and Stack’s interference sum to create the impetus for a lawsuit seeking damages, sanctions and direction to proceed with the development. It is expected both American Legion Post 107 and Fair Share, the affordable housing advocate that expected to yield 107 units of affordable housing from the deal, will join the suit or bring legal actions in their own interests. Pegasus sent a letter to the City Council saying they are not in compliance and that litigation would be necessary. The City failed to respond to the filing of litigation, later sought delays in moving motions forward and prospectively faces contempt of court citations. The Council seems to acknowledge that the lot coverage measurement is not correct.
Subsequently, Lou Madigan, another developer, expressed dismay over the influence of Mayor Stack, and Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher has echoed his feelings on social media, and also said she is concerned that Union City’s interests in maintaining its clifftop views are swaying the future. “That a mayor in a surrounding city is impacting our developments is a real problem,” Fisher said. Even a development opponent – former rent control board member Cheryl Fallick – expressed dismay over the City’s treatment of Pegasus in a public meeting, probably sealing her separation from Mayor Bhalla.
Pegasus and the City have sent emissaries to attempt to resolve the issue through negotiation. With a backwater utilizing Ron Simoncini and other ambassadors, Council President Russo has solicited a solution that he would present to Mayor Stack. The sides have explored densification, relaxed PILOT payments, reduced size of public space and other solutions to no avail. While Pegasus has room to reduce the height of the buildings, it cannot live with the 145’ level sought by Mayor Stack and the City will not forward a proposal to Mayor Stack that is significantly above the number. The City also is seeking to apply any resolution to Block 112, and Pegasus is reticent to do so. The most recent negotiations show no promise and Pegasus is ready to abandon negotiations and pursue its legal and public affairs options.
Legal action by Pegasus is truncated because it lacks a DEP Flood Hazard Area Waiver Permit, which must be signed by the Mayor and taken up at a future Council meeting.