Hoboken Files Eminent Domain Action to Expand Southwest Park

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Aerial view of Southwest Park and the vacant lot in question at 111 Paterson Avenue, Hoboken. Photo via the City of Hoboken.

The Mile Square City just took a big step toward acquiring a parking lot that they wish to convert into open space, officially taking the property owner to court and making an offer on the land.

The parcel in question, at 111 Paterson Avenue, is directly across the street from the city’s Southwest Park, runs about an acre in size, and is owned by a subsidiary of Academy Bus. Back in early 2017, Hoboken’s council voted 8-0 to authorize the use of eminent domain if necessary as part of their efforts to acquire the land through negotiation.


Talks between Academy Bus and the city have been taking place behind the scenes ever since. Earlier this year, Jersey Digs exclusively revealed details of a 439-unit development project Academy Bus was working on for the neighborhood that would expand the park as a giveback.

However, the existing Southwest Redevelopment Plan allows for a total of 192 units at the parcels and Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla quickly shot down the proposal. The two sides apparently haven’t made much progress since then, as Hoboken is now looking to acquire the parcel without a redevelopment deal.


The city filed a condemnation action in Hudson County court on September 17 looking to acquire the property after determining, according to the paperwork, “that it is necessary to acquire for public use a fee simple interest in the land.” Named in the suit are Jefferson Street Partners II LLC, PSE&G (who have an easement at the property), the North Hudson Sewerage Authority, the State of New Jersey, and PNC Bank.

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Condemned Academy Bus property at 111 Paterson Avenue, Hoboken. Photo by Chris Fry/Jersey Digs.

“Today is an important milestone for Hoboken as we move forward with the acquisition of Block 10 to expand our Southwest Park,” Mayor Bhalla said in a statement to Jersey Digs. “This additional acre of land, which currently sits as a vacant lot, will provide much needed open space for our residents without any compromise of added residential density.”

Former Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who was in office when the eminent domain ordinance was passed, praised the move.

“Back in 2011 when my Administration started the process of acquiring the first acre of land for the Southwest Park, we promised the residents of Southwest Hoboken that this was only the beginning of a larger neighborhood park and that we would never pay for that expansion with overdevelopment,” Zimmer said. “I am thrilled that Mayor Bhalla is moving forward to fulfill that promise.”

Citing an appraisal from December 2017, Hoboken made an offer of $5.3 million for the 111 Paterson Street property and deposited funds with the court. A fair market price will now be determined, after which Hoboken can pay up and take full legal ownership of the property.

Academy Bus has previously argued that the parcel is worth $13 million. Jersey Digs has reached out to the company, but they have not provided us with any comment thus far.

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Southwest Park, Hoboken. Photo by Chris Fry/Jersey Digs.

When acquiring the land for the initial Southwest Park, the city faced a long eminent domain battle with former owner Ponte Properties. That company claimed during court proceedings that the land the park now sits on was worth upwards of $10 million, but the city ended up paying $4.4 million to acquire it.

The $5.3 million deposit Hoboken is turning over to the court is being funded by a $1 million grant from Hudson County’s Open Space Trust Fund, money from the city’s Open Space Trust Fund, and $900,000 from New Jersey’s Green Acres funding.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. The actions of Hoboken sometimes reminds me of the old westerns where eminent domain was used to buy land for a railroad. We sometimes look at this and say to ourselves how terrible being forced out of your land so some entity could take it from you for what they claim is the betterment of the community. Looks a lot like theft masquerading as an effort for public good.

    • I am sorry but I forgot my tin foil hat.

      A court deciding a fair price for property can not be construed as “theft.”

      A new park is always in the public good.

      • Extermination camps in Germany, displacement of native Americans and Segregation were deemed to be public good. However it doesn’t mean that it is not criminal.

      • Why the insult? Emotionally charged Insults instead of logic and reasoning isn’t really a good approach to a debate. Interestingly, the commenting policy for this website mentions we be thoughtful and respectful. By the way my comments were general. Courts deciding a fair price doesn’t seem to cancel out the fact that many times the victims of eminent domain do not have the desire to sell their property. Forcing someone to sell their property is theft. It is more civilized but a blatant infringement upon the rights of property owners. Parks are wonderful, however, doesn’t the method of acquiring land for such projects matter? Infringing on rights in order to achieve what ONE may call greater good is indeed debatable as a true action of good will. Perhaps there are other property owners willing to release their properties willingly for such a project?

  2. Old McBhalla is at it again… With a park park here and a park park there. Is there ANY parcel of land safe from ED as long as they guy looks to build his legacy? He would probably use ED for that too if he could! His entire slate of puppets need to be shot down and he needs to go with them.

    • But wait !

      The entire Hoboken City Council voted to use eminent domain to acquire this property for a park.

      That really undermines your position.

      If doing good and positive things for the City of Hoboken builds anyone’s legacy that is a good thing and a win win for everyone.

  3. Comparing the use of ED to acquire parkland to Nazi atrocities is offensive in so many ways, but it’s also so completely nutty that it’s hard to take it seriously enough to be offended.

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