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.
“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.
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.