Tremetiedi sees only massive MONEY, not massive building

Tremetiedi sees only massive MONEY, not massive building

02/17/2008 Hoboken Reporter

Dear Editor:

I am writing in response to Richard Tremitiedi's letter which appeared here on February 10. He summarized the controversial history of the Municipal Garage. He bemoaned that the City has opened itself to another lawsuit and has "left $4.6 million on the table" in its recent selection of a Garage site developer.

I agree at least with the early assessment in his letter. In 2005, it would be generous to describe the City's deficit-plugging sale and lease back of the garage as merely short-sighted. The resulting $120,000/month interest payment (for the past 18 months) is a testament to the wisdom of that decision. Beyond this, I cannot agree with Mr. Tremitiedi.

As background, the recent bidding process was the third attempt to sell off the garage property and cure the two prior flawed attempts. Bidders were offered a two-phased, closed-bid process; in the first phase, they could bid on a combined 7 to 9-story detailed redevelopment plan with established maximum density and unit numbers (240). The details of the plan were negotiated through an extensive public process, and bids started at a minimum of $25.5 million with no maximum price cap. If anyone were to bid on this phase, the high bid would win and the second phase would be unnecessary. However, if no one bid on this approach, the second phase applied. Second phase bidders were required to bid $25.5 million (no more, no less), with the variable being that each could add density to the 7 to 9-story plan up to a specific cap in density and height, not to exceed a detailed 8 - 10 - 12-story stepped building. Since all offers in the second phase would be of the same dollar value, the idea was to select the least dense (and tall) proposal to maximize benefits to the public, balancing design features, community amenities, lowest acceptable density, and revenue raised.

Two qualified bidders submitted proposals. One failed to meet the bid requirements, and the other selected bid was a "second phase" offer of $25.5M with an increase over the minimum 7 to 9-story plan within the prescribed limits. A "leftover" bid from one of the prior bid processes was halfheartedly submitted - just over $30 million and a proposal which exceeded the maximum 8 - 10 - 12-story limits. Thus, it violated both phase one (exceeds the 7 to 9-story plan limits) and phase two (exceeded the $25.5M and the maximum 8 - 10 - 12-story limits) of the bid requirements. The City could not accept it under law.

Mr. Tremitiedi fails to recognize any public benefit from this project beyond the revenue it could generate. As a candidate, he made this clear, and he continues to do so today. Thus, ignoring public sentiment and the fact that it would have been illegal for the City to accept the $30M bid, he sees only the "$4.6M left on the table" and not the additional height, additional density, and the non-conforming use that would have come with it. It is a simple balancing of dollars and density, and it is also a wash between a lawsuit against the City by a disgruntled developer and a potential suit by the entitled bidder.

Jim Doyle

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