Hoboken Unleashed “Zoned Out”
Hoboken Unleashed “Zoned Out” of Hoboken
Just wanted to put the lid on this post-mortum update to the space formerly known as the Hoboken Unleashed doggie day care facility located at 716 Clinton Street. This location closed for good this past summer.
Most everyone knew it was coming, because they were on “borrowed time” as the area near the old Wonder Bread factory always had plans for redevelopment.
However, Hoboken lost this business entirely because they had planned on relocating to another spot in the Mile Square, but the city essentially bullied them away. You can see the extensive story behind that part of the equation after the jump. More cookie-cutter condos on the way!
For more info on the Jersey City Unleashed location: jerseycityunleashed.com.
Weehawken Mayor: choke chain on Hoboken Doggy Daycare
Hoboken Unleashed co-owner Mike Stigliano wants to open a doggy daycare spa at 1714 Willow Avenue.
Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner covets that Hoboken site for use as his town’s Municipal Garage. Now Turner is dipping into his Township Treasury to hire attorneys, planners and engineers to fight the Hoboken Unleashed application.
The two are set to do battle at a special meeting of the Hoboken Zoning Board Tuesday night, January 25th (Agenda).
Stigliano is calling on concerned pet owners and lovers to support his application against Turner’s effort to effectively annex a portion of Hoboken.
How did they get here? A quick review:
You’ll recall Stigliano had a lease for 1714 Willow that Mayor Dawn Zimmer ignored when she announced she and Turner brokered a last-minute “shared services agreement” to move municipal garage operations to the site. Zimmer was under the gun after her plan to move the garage to the Pino Site went public, causing a huge outcry that forced her into retreat. Turner and others saw an opportunity, and moved in to suggest the building right on the Hoboken/Weehawken border below the Willow Avenue bridge would be a better location.
Zimmer makes move; Turner balks at last minute
Zimmer moved in despite being told there was a previous leaseholder on the site. Stigliano, who was preparing an application for a minor use variance to build the doggy daycare, held that lease. Zimmer was desperate to get off the Observer Highway site in time to close a $25.5 million dollar sale of the property to S. Hekemian group – a sale she was instrumental in approving as a member of the City Council. Zimmer sent out flowery press release saying Weehawken would also be moving onto the site and paying a portion of the rent. Turner, however, is a far more experienced and effective government manager who didn’t take long to figure out how poorly Zimmer had botched the deal. As Stigliano won battles against Zimmer in court, Weehawken never showed, and never paid.
Hoboken Taxpayers were made to foot the entire bill for Zimmer’s 1714 Willow debacle.
Stigliano: Weehawken delaying to deny variance
The hearing was originally supposed to take place in November, and was later put off to December. Weehawken has been arguing proper notice hasn’t been given, and continues to claim not enough detail has been given in the notice that has been made. The irony of all this? Mayor Turner did nothing to provide widespread public notice to Hoboken residents of developer Mark Settembre’s Weehawken Zoning Board application to build a house on the 1600 block of Park Avenue. Turner knew Hoboken owned the rest of the block and was planning to turn it into a park, but somehow nobody in the Mile Square City found out about Settembre’s plan to buy the portion of the industrial-zoned block behind the Weehawken town line and build a house on it.
Where does Hoboken Unleashed stand now?
On it’s merits Stigliano’s minor use variance would be likely to be approved. After all, it’s an industrial zone and there are no Hoboken residences on that side of the light rail tracks. Zimmer no longer seems to have a dog in this fight, since she moved operations back to Observer Highway after botching the $25.5 million dollar sale of the property.
Another potential obstacle was removed by the voters of the 4th ward. When they overwhelming rejected Michael Lenz they also rejected his campaign strategist Tony Soares, whose term as Zoning Board Chairman was up at the end of 2010. Soares knew he wouldn’t have the votes on the council to return to the ZBA, so he didn’t reapply for the job. Some say Soares should have recused himself anyway, since he and Turner sit together on the board of the North Hudson Sewerage Authority thanks to Lenz.
The hearing begins at 7pm Tuesday in the basement meeting room at Hoboken City Hall.
Facing depositions, Zimmer to exit 1714 Willow Ave
Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s $25.5 million dollar Municipal Garage Sale failure has come full circle.
In an attempt to avoid being deposed by Hoboken Unleashed owner Mike Stigliano about the city’s attempts to usurp his legal rights to 1714 Willow Avenue, Zimmer will vacate the new garage and move back to the old one.
The latest change of strategy is not just an admission of wrongdoing in regards to 1714 Willow, but is also the last legal straw in Zimmer’s failing legal quest to keep the $2.55 million dollar deposit from developer S. Hekemian Group.
With the city moving back to the site, and no state DEP “No Further Action” letter to be found, the stage is set for a Judge to find the city in default of its own sale agreement with the designated developer suing to get their deposit back.
So much for Shared Services with Weehawken
After earlier heralding the 1714 Willow site as a great location for “Shared Services” with the Weehawken – and claiming that township would be footing part of the $15,000 a month bill for the space – Zimmer is now forced to admit her press releases were bogus and that Weehawken never moved onto the site.
All the cost of the last-minute purge of city equipment and property that ended up hauled away in dumpsters from Observer Highway – as well as the cost of taxpayer-paid overtime for the effort – was wasted. The entire exercise turned out to be a waste of time, money and manpower caused by an incredible inability to manage what should have been a simple sale of property.
Zimmer says city off the hook, Stigliano has other ideas
The latest misinformation-filled press release from City Hall states:
Hoboken Unleashed — which had an existing lease on the property — and the City of Hoboken tried to reach an amicable, reasonable resolution to the legal dispute over the property, but were not able to do so. Interim Corporation Counsel Mark Tabakin wrote to Hoboken Unleashed and Willow Avenue, LLC to inform them that the City will be vacating the property by September 26… In addition, Tabakin sent a letter to Judge Thomas Olivieri informing him that there is no longer a need for future court proceedings as the City is vacating the premises as Hoboken Unleashed had requested.– Zimmer Press Release
Zimmer may certainly want to avoid “future court proceedings”, but just because the Mayor wants something a certain way (and will pay a Minister of Misinformation $75,000 a year to write it in a press release) doesn’t make it so. When contacted by Hoboken411 for comment, Stigliano said:
“We are moving forward with the trial. We want to know why the City knowingly acted with such blatant disregard to our lease. This will all be uncovered during discovery and at the trial. We want to make sure that this doesn’t happen again to anyone in Hoboken, and that the public knows the truth behind this whole story.”– Mike Stigliano
Stigliano still has to face Zimmer’s Zoning Board for a minor use variance to set up shop at 1714 Willow, and critics of the people this Mayor has given power to at City Hall say he has cause for concern a backlash is coming.
“Stigliano better watch his back. Between political hit job specialist Tony Soares and that toxic wingnut hate blogger on the Zoning Board he may be headed for very rough sailing. These people are ruthless with anyone who dares to question their dear leader’s plans for the city. He should keep all legal options open.”– City Hall Watchdog
Should Stigliano’s variance be denied, Zimmer would have the option of again moving to 1714 Willow and attempting shared services with Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner, who would like to move his Muni Garage operations into north Hoboken.
Debacle from beginning to end, all called correctly here
As Hoboken411 has reported from the beginning, if Dawn Zimmer had taken her Mayoral responsibilities seriously from Day 1, she would have done what was necessary to obtain the DEP No Further Action Letter, relocate the Municipal Garage and accept $25.5 million dollars in money that could be used to lower taxes, buy and develop new parks or save Police jobs.
Instead, Zimmer will place the city on the hook for $16 million dollars in new bond debt on the old Municipal Garage property, further limiting the city’s ability to borrow money. This debacle is not over by a longshot. There are more days in court ahead, and probably even more moves of the Muni Garage to come.
- Original Garage Debacle Archives (comments closed)
- City not out by deadline
- City still on site a week past deadline
- Garage contents litters uptown areas
- Raises for city hall friends while cops get laid off
PREVIOUS UPDATES & VIDEO CONTINUE BELOW…
8/18/2010 4:30pm Update:
Zimmer Bullies Small Business
Judge agrees with Stigliano & Hoboken Unleashed; City and Landlord will face trial
Despite their arguments to limit access to the site, the City of Hoboken has been ordered to allow principals of the Hoboken Unleashed to tour the new Muni Garage site at any time.
Judge Oliveri also ordered the city must also clear the building on 24 hours notice to allow Unleashed’s professionals to prepare their Zoning Application. This is a temporary situation, as Judge Oliveri has also determined Unleashed has a right to trial on October 12th on the question of whether the city must vacate the property entirely. City officials will be deposed on video ahead of that trial, unless they decide to vacate 1714 Willow before then.
8/16/2010 5pm UPDATE:
Judge recognizes Stigliano’s rights to access 1714 Willow
…but gives all sides 48 hours to work out an agreement before ruling on injunctive relief. Kates threatens Eminent Domain.
Attorneys for Hoboken Unleashed owner Mike Stigliano, Willow Avenue Enterprises (owner of 1714 Willow) and the City of Hoboken appeared before Superior Court Judge Thomas Oliveri this afternoon. Hoboken’s move of Municipal Garage operations onto 1714 Willow was described as “A temporary taking without due process” as Stigliano’s attorney argued the city should be forced to vacate the property his client has a prior lease for.
Hoboken Corporation Counsel Michael Kates said the city originally believed the lease would not go into effect until after Stigliano received a use variance from the Zoning Board, so they moved forward with their plan to move onto the property. Kates also said he thought he had a verbal agreement with Hoboken Unleashed, to which Judge Oliveri responded, “You had nothing in writing from the plantiff, but you moved onto the property anyway?”
Though he stressed to the Judge the City currently plans to utilize the property for 60 days (with an option for 360 more) Kates would not say whether the city would vacate the property when and if Stigliano receives the minor use variance. In fact, when the Judge indicated he recognized Stigliano’s right to have “unfettered access” to the site, Kates dropped the eminent domain bomb.
“The city can exercise the power of Eminent Domain after 60 days if they can’t come to an agreement with (Hoboken Unleashed).”– Hoboken Corporation Counsel Michael Kates
That quote was a smackdown designed to put the fear of condemnation into play, which would shut down any chance Stigliano could move to the site. Kates is Mayor Zimmer’s attorney, so by extension she just threatened to shut Hoboken Unleashed’s plans down.
Oliveri: How did you let this happen?
When it came time for the owners of the property to be questioned, Judge Oliveri asked their attorney, “How did you let this happen?” The lawyer didn’t really answer the question, instead insisting that Stigliano would not suffer “irreparable harm” by waiting out the 60 days. Still, they had to admit Hoboken Unleashed was paying $2000 a month for exclusive right to lease the building for 25 years.
The judge wrapped things up by saying “I would like to see the 3 parties sit down and resolve this, or narrow down what needs to be decided,” before he makes a ruling. Judge Oliveri also made it clear that Stigliano must be given “unfettered access” to the 1714 Willow, despite Hoboken’s threat to arrest him if he steps foot in the building.
The parties will return to court Wednesday afternoon, and if they don’t have an agreement to move forward, the Judge may have one for them.
Hoboken Unleashed has a lease for 1714 Willow Ave.
…but Mayor Zimmer moved the Municipal Garage there anyway!
Mike Stigliano is unleashing his attorneys on Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer. The co-owner of the Hoboken Unleashed doggie day care and spa will be in Hudson County Superior Court today explaining how Zimmer moved the municipal garage to 1714 Willow despite the fact that he has a lease for the property. Stigliano pays the building owner to protect his rights to the location where he plans to relocate and improve his thriving business.
Zimmer placed his plan in jeopardy by striking a deal to pay his landlord twice as much as he was to move garage operations to the site.
Zimmer knew of pre-existing lease, and ignored it
With a location secure, Stigliano was in the process of getting all the approvals necessary to open his dream pet spa. The owner of the building that currently houses Hoboken Unleashed has a plan to convert the place into condos, so the writing’s on the wall for Stigliano’s business – move it, or lose it. When the City Council rejected a change in the Zoning Ordinance to allow him to relocate north of the 14th Street Viaduct, Stigliano was advised to find an industrial building and seek a minor use variance that would allow his business to move in.
Back in January he found 1714 Willow, and negotiated an agreement to secure the site, pending the zoning application. Stigliano says he secured all rights to the site, so he was shocked when Zimmer’s PR spin team announced she had signed a deal to occupy the building he already had a lease for. He went to City Hall to explain his rights to the Zimmer administration, who ignored his pleas and continued on with their plan.
Perry Belfiore drops a bomb on the council
Zimmer submitted a shared services agreement for the site to the City Council for their vote knowing Stigliano’s position, but she didn’t disclose it to the council or public!
Only when Perry Belfiore rose to the microphone to ask about the “rumor” that someone else had a lease for the site did Zimmer’s Corporation Council Michael Kates admit under questioning that this was the case. If you watch the meeting video you’ll see Kates give a lawerly speech about how all is well, and that Stigliano’s claim is no problem that should preclude the council from moving forward at 1714 Willow. Stigliano begs to differ. He filed suit against the city on Friday.
So, where does it go from here?
Stigliano says he has a lease securing the property for around half the $15,000 amount the city is paying. Reporter Claire Moses of the AOL-owned Patch website also reports the owner had been advertising the rent on the site as $9000 a month, even though Hoboken stepped up to voluntarily pay $6000 more! This afternoon the city, Stigliano and his landlord will be in Hudson County Superior Court where attorneys will argue the city must leave the property to protect Stigliano’s rights.
If the court rules in his favor, Hoboken will once again be on a mad scramble to relocate the municipal garage, offering Mayor Zimmer’s critics yet another reason to claim she’s in way over her head.
Watch this space for future updates!