Mayor Dawn Zimmer was quite clear that the preliminary redevelopment study for which the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey paid, after having selected the consultants to perform the study, did not turn out as the community expected and was not approved by the planning board.
There are good reasons for that and they are clearly outlined in the draft of the study delivered by the consultants themselves. The study is still in draft form because it has not been adopted by the Planning Board, on whose behalf it was compiled.
As is typical of such documents, they are compiled as pdf (portable document file) files, which are coded so as to make them difficult to copy and edit by outside entities.
I have excerpted the salient provisions so we can discuss what's going on.
I put "destroyed" in my title because that's what redevelopment is about--destroying extant assets and clearing the ground, so something new can (maybe) be built, if the incentives are right. So, in the introduction to the plan we read under Statutory Authority and Process about municipal powers.
• Acquiring property (including by exercise of eminent domain, if necessary).It is this process, as outlined in these criteria, which accounts for countless U.S. inner cities having been hollowed out and dotted with asphalt parking lots. It is a real estate boon doggle whose primary objective is to generate revenue for planners and consultants and engineers and surveyors and financiers and then pressure our public corporations to utilize their taxing powers and extract dollars from the remaining citizenry.
• Clearing an area, install, construct or reconstruct streets, facilities, utilities and site improvements.
• Negotiating and entering into contracts with private redevelopers or public agencies for the undertaking of any project or redevelopment work
• Making loans to redevelopers to finance any project or redevelopment work.
• Entering buildings or property to conduct investigations or make surveys; contracting with public agencies for relocation of residents, industry or commerce.
• Making plans for voluntary repair or rehabilitation of buildings.
• Enforcing laws, codes and regulations relating to use and occupancy; repairing, rehabilitating, demolishing or removing buildings.
• Exercising other powers, including the power to do all things necessary or convenient to carry out its plans.
Note however, that designation of an area in need of rehabilitation does not allow a municipality to acquire property through eminent domain (N.J.S.A.. 40A:12A-15).
I say "remaining," because when the acquisition and clearing and public utilities relocations are done and the residents can't afford to bring houses and stores into compliance with codes, there aren't many people left to carry the freight.
In this case, since investors had already acquired three city blocks, it seems that the aegis of the plan was to either get Hoboken to buy up the three blocks or issue bonds to finance whatever building the Rockefeller Group had in mind. So, in effect, the planning grant from the PANYNJ was a form of seeding the mine--aka "create incentives" for public investment.
The transfer of public assets into private wealth is not a happenstance. It is the consequence of a systematic program in which Congressional rationing of dollars is coordinated with state and local tax caps to force the transfer of public lands and funding via bond issues to keep communities on life-support.
Read that note again.
designation of an area in need of rehabilitation does not allow a municipality to acquire property through eminent domainIt tells us that the primary object of this exercise was to enable somebody to either get more land on the cheap or force the community to pay top dollar for what they had already claimed. The object is not to build anything new with private funds. Just as the object, very often, is not to build on sensitive lands, when they are acquired by speculators. The object is to get a designation of "highest and best use," so some public or tax-exempt entity can be pressured into paying top dollar for what should be a communal asset to begin with.
It's a scam. The object is to keep the money changers satisfied.