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View Diary: Hoboken: Why only three blocks were to be destroyed. (55 comments)

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  •  Hate to tell you this (5+ / 0-)

    but none of this is very uncommon.  

    First of all Kelo vs New London broadly expanded the scope of Eminent Domain.  Designation of an area in need of rehabilitation does not mean that the properties designated are to be acquired by eminent domain but they can be.  If it can be determined that it would be in the public good, whatever that means.  Don't kid yourselves, this type of stuff is being done ALL THE TIME.  

    As for public investment, again don't kid yourselves.  It is often the case that the public government 'invests' in the infrastructure and upgrades it so that private developers can benefit from those upgrades.  It's also not uncommon for municipalities to give tax breaks or abatements to 'help' the developers.  The thing is there are hearings on this, at least in my part of the world.  Public notices are issued and all the documents are public record.  Most times I don't even need to do a FOIA request to get all the files on developments, big or small.  

    Often those redevelopments are done with countless hearings and meetings.  There is a looong process in these things.  Municipalities don't just bulldoze neighborhoods and turn them into parking lots unless the tax revenue that a parking lot generates is not much different that a property with a derelict building.  It's called highest and best use.  Usually there is a reason for that, safety, cleanup of a contaminated site, lack of capital to go forward with a project, not enough interest to go forward with the project at that time, etc.

    I don't see anything here that seems out of sorts in relation with any other large project.  This is fairly typical.  I'm not saying it's right or wrong.  Personally I think since Kelo things have gone too far and private developers are abusing the system by corrupting various parts of it to get their way.  But it's our responsibility to understand the system and see how it's being corrupted.  This case doesn't look to be any different than any other case in say Sunset park, Brooklyn, Stamford, CT or any other major North East city.  

    This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

    by DisNoir36 on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 08:39:14 AM PST

    •  This kind of thing goes back even further to (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NancyWH

      The Ambler Realty case that allowed eminent domain in taking private property for resale to private developers of urban "blighted" areas.  S short step from there to taking to raise the taxable value of the waterfront real estate as in Kelo.

      Patriotism may be the last refuge of scoundrels, but religion is assuredly the first.

      by StrayCat on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 08:45:50 AM PST

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      •  Most states don't allow this now (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        hannah, jayden, StrayCat

        Lots of changes since Kelo, justifications for Eminent Domain have been narrowed.

        "Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everybody gets busy on the proof.” ― John Kenneth Galbraith

        by Urban Owl on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 10:10:30 AM PST

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    •  True. It is not extraordinary. That's my (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      NancyWH, jayden

      point. The boiler plate in the intro to the report tells us that.

      Obamacare at your fingertips: 1-800-318-2596; TTY: 1-855-889-4325

      by hannah on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 08:59:21 AM PST

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      •  Same thing is happening in my community (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        stargaze, NancyWH, hannah, jayden

        in Danbury CT for example, our mayor and city council is in the process of approving 375 residential units (rentals) downtown.  The site used to be owned by Amphenol and is contaminated.  Part of it is owned by the city.  Guess who will be burdened with paying for the infrastructure upgrades?  Upgrades to the schools?  I'm sure there will be some bonds issued for road improvements and sidewalks and part of that will probably be paid by the developers but considering they're getting a 7 year tax abatement after the project is complete I'd say that they're actually not paying squat.

        Some would argue that the city will be better off in 10 years after the company starts paying taxes on a fully developed site or that it's a better use than the vacant contaminated parking lot.  I may even agree with the second half of that assessment.  The problem is the city taxpayers will be picking up the tab and paying for the upgrades until we see a dime in return for a decade.  

        Similar things can be seen in Stamford CT , New Haven CT, Bridgeport, CT or Norwalk CT where Obama's Communities Recovery and Reinvestment Act money was used to improve infrastructure (roads, bridges, sidewalks, etc) so that private developers could then go in and redevelop those areas.  IN these cases it's hard to argue that the communities will be worse off.  The reality is they will be far better off but the return on investment will be a long time coming.

        This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

        by DisNoir36 on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 09:13:45 AM PST

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        •  Fact is that all dollars flow from the federal (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NancyWH

          Treasury. The question is how many layers of middlemen does that dollar have to satisfy before it pays for a shovel going into the ground or a brick being laid. One of the problems I saw with the CRRA dollars was that members of Congress, instead of getting to OK grants, were cut out as beneficial middlemen. The same is true with how the PPACA is organized. Even though private health insurers are middlemen, they are expected to be providing account and record keeping functions and, with their 20% cap on over-head are going to be quite constrained. So, there won't be the profits to flow into investment vehicles that there were in the past. Which means the bankers have yet another thing to complain about AND another reason to turn a deaf ear to Congress critters when they come begging for contributions at election time. Congress has pretty much privatized itself out of inluence by setting up these mandatory programs with their dedicated revenue stream.
          If Christie is withholding dollars to gain some advantage, as has been charged, then he's just doing what Congress critters have been doing all along -- using the appropriations process to secure their incumbency. What the advent of the Taxed Enough Already people tells us is that they managed to piss their own people off and the arrival of 212 freshmen in the House through the last three elections is not a harbinger off good fortune. Democrats may consider the TEA people useless, but they're why the Republican old guard can't get anything accomplished. And then the shutdown revealed for the whole world to see that the Obamacare issue had already been lost because, regardless of the electronic registry problems, the enrollment went right along, if only via the clinics that Bernie Sanders had got into the original PPACA.

          Obamacare at your fingertips: 1-800-318-2596; TTY: 1-855-889-4325

          by hannah on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 09:49:48 AM PST

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        •  What's the problem here? (0+ / 0-)

          You say that the community will come out net positive when a residential development replaces a contaminated downtown site that the City owns?

          Perhaps the City could negotiate a better deal, but this sounds like a good one, especially if the alternative is to have the empty brownfield blighting the area.

          Unless there is a cosy deal between the developer and the Governor, this is not like the Christie case.

          "Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everybody gets busy on the proof.” ― John Kenneth Galbraith

          by Urban Owl on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 10:14:38 AM PST

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          •  It's not a bad deal overall (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            hannah

            but it will put a tremendous strain on our infrastructure.  Schools in the neighborhood cannot handle the increase in student population, the roads cannot handle the added traffic.  this will all cost tax dollars to remediate.  It would be nice if tax dollars were coming from the development to help that but the developer got a seven year tax abatement AFTER the development was finished which will result in several hundreds of thousands of dollars that will not go into the city coffers.  

            It could have been a far better deal and unfortunately it's part of a larger pattern by this mayor (who BTW recently announced he's running for governor) to give away the farm to developers and then worry about the problems that pop up as a result of runaway development.    

            This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

            by DisNoir36 on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 10:41:51 AM PST

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            •  New residents don't spend? (0+ / 0-)

              No contribution to taxes until the 7- year abatement ends? No increased value on surrounding properties?

              Possible, but seems unlikely.

              I'm willing to believe that the developer got a good deal, especially if there was no competitive selection process.

              But "runaway development" doesn't seem like the right description for brownfield replacement.

              And people have to live somewhere, so developers have to build somewhere.

              Cities have to plan where and how to do growth, and how to finance it, and then carry out the plan. Too many places try to prevent all development, which does not work out well.

              "Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everybody gets busy on the proof.” ― John Kenneth Galbraith

              by Urban Owl on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 11:27:10 AM PST

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              •  New residents are tenants not owners (0+ / 0-)

                Sure they spend and pay sales taxes but it's not all that certain they'll be spending in the city anyway.  It's not even all that certain they'll be earning an income in CT since Danbury is near the NY line.  So the city will get some taxes from their cars.  Big fucking deal.  

                The developer got a sweetheart deal.  The landowner who is selling the land to the developer is connected to the mayor so it's to his benefit to sell the land.  They both made out.  There's no ifs and or butts about it.  It's prime real estate once it's cleaned up.  There was no need to give away a 7 year tax abatement on the completed project (which will be 10 years since construction will take about 24-30 months after approval) in addition to everything else.  

                Also it's obvious you're not familiar with the city or the specific situation.  This city has seen runaway development in the last 10 years as we've added over 15%-20% more housing units in a city of 80,000+ which since 2000 has grown by about 10%-12% (from 70,000+ in 2000).  Do the math and you will quickly see that the supply is seriously outpacing the demand.  Runaway development is a very apt description.

                Huge developments of once virgin lands have become the norm.  Sweetheart deals to preferred developers have become the norm.  Violation of building and zoning codes by council members and people with ties to the mayor have become the norm.  There is a smart way to grow and develop land and there is a dumb way.  Giving tax breaks to develop prime real estate is dumb.  Approving 6,000 new housing units on pristine virgin land is not a smart plan, especially when it's in a remote part of town and has no infrastructure.  

                This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

                by DisNoir36 on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 03:06:38 PM PST

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                •  Totally agree on that last (0+ / 0-)

                  Allowing sprawl is almost always a bad deal for taxpayers. I'll take your word for it that the deal on the brownfield could have happened without the tax break.

                  But 375 units built be a good developer, creating a $70 m project that will continue to pay the base tax seems like a decent deal. (Greystar is generally good, both at building and at  managing.)

                  Since most of the units are 1-BR, it is unlikely that there will be many children living there, so impact on schools is limited.

                  Adding residents to Downtowns that are trying to revitalize with a Main Street program is generally a good strategy. It is certainly less likely to be a bad idea than building single-family homes on greenfields!

                  I deal with redevelopments, brownfields, tax deals, etc. as part of my job. I am NOT a developer, I am a government planner trying to make better urban places happen.

                  Didn't mean to get into the weeds, just could not resist, sorry!

                  "Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everybody gets busy on the proof.” ― John Kenneth Galbraith

                  by Urban Owl on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 07:18:30 PM PST

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    •  Reaction to Kelo changed things (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marina, jayden

      Many states passed prohibiting the use of eminent domain justified by "blight" determinations, and some prohibit eminent foaming or economic development.

      Eminent domain is based on a determination of needing the land for a public purpose. Post-Kelo, states changed what is included.

      The diarist included the note that said eminent domain is not legal in NJ for the proposed project, I.e., is not an issue.

      "Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everybody gets busy on the proof.” ― John Kenneth Galbraith

      by Urban Owl on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 10:09:17 AM PST

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    •  Not extraordinary however (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marina, hannah, jayden

      The location is extraordinary in the sense that Hoboken is solely a city that is one square mile.  It is one of the most densely populated areas (by square foot) in the US. The location of Hoboken is near NYC, with direct access through public transportation.  In other words, absolutely desirable location to live for those that work in NYC.

      Jersey City has similar attributes (transportation, closeness to NYC), but Hoboken doesn't have the crime and poor neighborhoods.

      So while the method of identifying areas for redevelopment or rehabilitation in Hoboken needs to be done with careful planning.

      I wouldn't have any doubt that rent per square footage would probably bring in more than in Brooklyn at this point. Brooklyn is prime, but as a city (ie, NYC) and real estate, there are still expansion possibilities in the Bronx and Queens.  

      All the suffering of this world arises from a wrong attitude.The world is neither good or bad. It is only the relation to our ego that makes it seem the one or the other - Lama Anagorika Govinda

      by kishik on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 10:16:51 AM PST

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      •  I think what the Mayor and the Plan board (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kishik, jayden

        objected to was that the validating study left out some nine acres that the city considered as also qualified for redevelopment and only identified the three blocks that happened to belong to the Rockefeller Group.
        You'd think that group has enough money to spring for infra-structure improvements itself. Perhaps this was a notion that Samson came up with on his own.
        From where I sit, Samson is much hype and lots of connections. But, anyone whose resume goes on and on over a 13 month tenure as Attorney General out of a career of 55 years has a questionable attitude, IMHO. And, as far as I can tell, there is no Wolff to go with the Samson. He's got a very mediocre educational background and owes his current job to Christie.

        Obamacare at your fingertips: 1-800-318-2596; TTY: 1-855-889-4325

        by hannah on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 10:31:21 AM PST

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        •  of course realty wise... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          hannah, jayden

          if only those three were eligible for redevelopment, not sure what would be left for the other 6 (of the 9 block area) - put on hold?  Of course if simply rehabilitation, they wouldn't get other financing abilities.  Thus leaving the three "redeveloped" blocks even at greater worth.

          All the suffering of this world arises from a wrong attitude.The world is neither good or bad. It is only the relation to our ego that makes it seem the one or the other - Lama Anagorika Govinda

          by kishik on Sun Jan 19, 2014 at 10:58:13 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

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