Zimmer killing small businesses in Hoboken? {SW Park update}

A quick little update here about the “area” known as the “Southwest Park talking point…”

You know that steakhouse that was going to add vibrancy to the neighborhood, make residents happy, etc.? Well, the Zimmer administration was so hell-bent on “coloring within the lines,” that they ball-busted the owners of this establishment so much, for what amounted to be about a FEW INCHES of space (the building apparently was “over the line” a little), that now the entire structure has to be “shrunk” at great expense.

The administration said that there wasn’t enough sidewalk space (or something equivalent to that), that they denied approval for this supposed steakhouse to move along and open. Look at that space. There is NO issue at all. The city was being bone-headed, and will leave yet another bitter taste in the mouths of people just trying to make a living here in Hoboken. This is text-book when it comes to what is wrong with government entities.

Hoboken should be cited in all major dictionaries under “botched.”

Steakhouse Botchery in Hoboken NJ SW Park

Latest developments for a SW Park in Hoboken

5/16/2012 Update:

So on today’s Hoboken City Council Agenda – is resolution regarding a park in the SW section of town (often referred to as SW6). This is a small section on Block 12 (less than 2 acres).

Up at stake is a $3 million dollar grant from Hudson County tied to SW Hoboken which was “re-programmed” to the city NINE months ago. Originally back in the summer of 2008 – this funding was meant for the contaminated Henkel Cognos site uptown (which BASF now owns), but that option is now off the table. The grant was only available for three years, but the city got a one-year extension and the funds were re-allocated for use in the 4th Ward of Hoboken.

4th Ward Councilman Tim Occhipinti called Mayor Dawn Zimmer out on this, and she was forced to “play along,” otherwise the foundation of her campaign promises would have been called into question.

While the city says the grant funding is exclusively for Block 12, Hudson County Officials have unofficially said this funding available for any legitimate use in SW Hoboken.

Giattino vote can make or break Eminent Domain option

Mayor Dawn Zimmer and Director Brandy Forbes have dragged their feet on this so long – and now the city may be in jeopardy of losing the funding if a use is not found for the funds. Zimmer has claimed that “negotiations have fallen short” with the property owner, Ponti, who owns the parking lot that occupies the majority of the land in question. In reality, Zimmer’s back is “against the wall,” and this eminent domain option is the only “easy way out.”

Hoboken411 has learned that is not the case. What has happened is, the “negotiations” are so-called “falling short” because Zimmer and Forbes “don’t negotiate” with property owners.

Zimmer wants to low-ball Ponti for around $2.4 million, and refused any further conversations with them.

The property was said to be assessed at close to $8 million back in 2008. The Mayor wants it to appear that the property owner is the one that is to blame, even though she’s offering an extremely under-priced offer for the property.

It’s estimated that Ponti may earn over half a million dollars a year in parking revenue for this spot. Even if the City Council gets the needed votes to start with Eminent Domain proceedings – this will most certainly be appealed by the property owner, and the case will be hung up in litigation for an unknown length of time, further jeopardizing any city acquisition of said property before grant funding expires.

Translation? You probably won’t see a new park in this area of SW Hoboken this decade. Rather than attempt a fair free-market deal, the Mayor is essentially saying: “You better accept my low-ball offer, or we’ll just steal your property from you anyway.”

6th Ward Councilwoman Jen Giattino has generally been against Eminent Domain, and would rather the Hudson County funds go to “her ward.” She normally votes lock-step with whatever the council majority and mayoral administration (i.e., shadow Mayor Stan Grossbard) wishes.

We’ll see tonight if she “changes her tune” due to immense pressure from the “powers that be.” Odds-makers in Hoboken currently have even odds that Giattino will “suddenly have change of heart” to allow the Mayoral Mafia continue their psychopathic power trip.

Hoboken411 Talking Point: Did you know there are some other good options the city can consider rather than going after Block 12?

We have a horrific “slum lord” property owner (Zaklama) who owns the site at the 1st & Jackson St. fire last year (Nardine’s), as well as four parcels across the street (see diagram above). This would make an almost similarly-sized recreational area for SW Hoboken residents. You could have a kiddie area on one side, and a passive recreation (i.e., dog run) on the other side. Not only could this property be attained for less than $3 million – the leftover funds can be used for the development of said parks.

Maybe if the city got their heads out of their asses, we’d make some sensible progress!

Downtown Hoboken SW6 Park Update: What a debacle!

3/28/2012 Update:

Hoboken411 has received quite a few inquires about what’s going on with the downtown area surrounding that “steakhouse” on Block 14. While we believe this will be a political volleyball for years to come – and will most likely NEVER become the 6-acre park everyone promised when they needed votes, we still need to clear the air and brush off the history books.

Zimmer shrunk park; pushed for ugly steakhouse

For years, residents advocated that Block 14 be part of SW6, contiguous 6-acre park. Many thought it offered the perfect area for a much needed southwest dog park to anchor the main park. The odd triangle shape was more conducive for active play space, especially for dogs.

That was one of several ideas of how Block 14 could be incorporated into the park area. But back in May 2009, residents became very concerned when non-park development proceeded on Block 14.

Last week, the Hoboken Zoning Board voted 6-1 to approve variances for the development on Block 14 which is now designated to be a restaurant.

While the public was advocating that this block be part of the SW6 park, then Mayoral Candidate Dawn Zimmer had other plans.

When the construction on Block 14 began in 2009, it was immediately followed by Zimmer’s press release, “Southwest Park Update from Mayoral Candidate Dawn Zimmer” in which she pushed for a steakhouse:

“As many of you may have heard, the property owner of Block 14 is building a steakhouse on his property in Southwest Hoboken. This land is a small part of the total property identified in the Master Plan as parkland for a large park in our neighborhood.

“I do believe the steakhouse will provide a needed amenity in our neighborhood, since we barely have any restaurants in the 4th Ward. Hopefully we will be able to close Jackson Street for at least part of the day as part of an overall park plan, and this restaurant will provide “eyes on the future park” that will help ensure a safer park with more people around and watching. (The restaurant plans to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner).”

– Dawn Zimmer

Hudson County not in the loop

5/21/2009 Update:

“I have received many e-mails from concerned residents regarding the new construction on Block 14, the small triangle block at the corner of Jackson & Observer.

Fortunately, members of the County Planning Board regularly receive HSPC e-mails and were kind enough to send me an update three days ago. I was able to get this message out to many on the HSPC list but I apologize to the 200 or so people who did not receive it due to technical difficulties with the gmail account we started using. We are currently improving and updating our e-mail system so in the future, the messages will be delivered promptly. In the meantime, please take note of the information from the County and be aware that construction is still going on at that site. And thank you to all the residents who keep me updated with their observations too.

~ Sara Stojkovic”

Stop work order could be issued

(Email sent May 18th at 9:33am)

Ms. Stojkovic:

Please be advised that despite the development’s location along a county road, the project has not received Hudson County Planning Board approval. The county’s inspector, Mario Tridente, issued a “Notice of Violation” last week and directed the owner/developer to submit a site plan application within 10 days. To date, we have received no application. In fact, if the developer does not file within 10 days, Mr. Tridente will issue a “Stop Work” order to the municipal construction code official.

If you need additional information or assistance, please feel free to call.

Sincerely,
Stephen

Stephen D. Marks, PP, AICP, CFM
Planning Director / Board Secretary
Hudson County Division of Planning

Turning a blind eye?

5/18/2009:

The proposed SW6 Park plan has been a hot topic in Hoboken for quite some time.

The public wanted it. The City Council supported it. But now, development is taking place in a portion of the proposed park area without even a peep from local officials.

Hoboken411 has received dozens of emails from concerned citizens – and the Hoboken Southwest Parks Coalition is urging residents to demand answers.

What’s happening in the SW ‘hood?

downtown-pub-hoboken-block-14-steakhouse“Many people on this list have inquired what is going on down in the southwest area of Hoboken. As you know, HSPC has advocated for a 6 acre park in that area for sometime (here’s the layout of the park area), but we have been informed by many park supporters that the small triangle block at the corner of Jackson & Observer (Block 14) has started some serious development. It was previously a one-story bar called the Downtown Pub, but now they are driving pilings into the ground which indicates a much taller structure will be built.

Here’s the ISSUE: All of the City Council members publicly endorsed the SW6 plan, and they approved the grant application that HSPC submitted to the county to start purchasing the park land, and the council also approved having appraisals done on all parcels proposed for park land, Blocks 9, 10, 11, 12, and 14.

Here’s the QUESTION: Why is a building going on top of the proposed park area?

Here’s what YOU can do: Contact your local City Council representative and ask them what’s going on and what they plan to do about this. We have current Council members and Council-At-Large and Mayoral candidates who are all making great claims as open space advocates and legislators who will get parks built. It’s time to call them on this and find out what they are doing to protect the SW land for park and how they are going to proceed with actual park development. Someone is turning a blind eye and allowing this to happen in their own backyard and if we continue on this path to allow development on every block in that area, there will be nothing left for a substantial SW park.”

Hoboken NJ

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