Being fair to residents or welcoming Armageddon?

Professionals say defeating Resnick’s development project could hurt city long term

The City Council’s tabling – and the possible upcoming defeat – of an ordinance for a controversial 9- or 10-story residential development could be a death knell for revitalization in Bayonne, those in real estate and related fields said this week.
On July 22, the City Council voted to table the measure regarding the Resnick’s Hardware property on Broadway and 46th Street after a contentious five-hour meeting attended by more than 100 people. Thirty-three residents spoke about the project during the public hearing.
The project is slated to have one or more ground-level businesses, 88 residential units, and a two-level parking garage on Broadway and adjacent properties on 46th Street.
Developer Lance Lucarelli is also working on a proposed multi-story residential project for Fifth Street and Broadway. There is speculation that the vociferous opposition for the uptown development could affect his decision on whether or not to move forward with the downtown proposal.
But a political observer said that if the Resnick’s’ property deal is quashed, the effects could be more profound than that, with other developers losing interest in the city.
“They’re basically putting out a sign that says Bayonne’s not open for business,” he said.
One resident feels that Bayonne will never achieve the success that Jersey City and Hoboken have experienced without being open minded about taking chances on new types of development.
Bayonne Chamber of Commerce President Matt Dorans believes the project would be beneficial to the city.
“Personally I am all in favor of it, and a good majority of our board is also in favor of it,” Dorans said. The full chamber board is deliberating whether to take an official position on the development.
But the strongest comments came from a businessman whose field is real estate.
Joseph Hottendorf, executive vice president of the Liberty Board of Realtors in Secaucus, believes that projects like Resnick’s are a must for Bayonne if it wants to move forward and thrive.
“Any new project always creates a problem for some people,” he said. “But most times, if it’s a good project it’s good for the entire community.”
Hottendorf said developments of this type are geared to young professionals with high salaries who bring their purchasing power with them. He said that the administration of Mayor James Davis is correct in attempting to attract this demographic to Bayonne.
“You have to bring young people with new ideas into a society, otherwise you see it deteriorate,” Hottendorf said.
The trickle-down effect of developments like Resnick’s is that these young spenders will patronize local stores and help revitalize Broadway and raise the value of homes in the city, something Hottendorf said was sorely needed.
He said that in the last five years Bayonne has lost 16 percent of its real estate’s true value, as reported by the Hudson County Tax Administrator.
If the project passes, Resnick’s would remain open, but move to a new location.
Among area residents’ concerns are the building’s height, possible noise and light distractions from the garage, and whether open-space requirements, such as adding park area, would be met.
Others were concerned with what they said was the development changing the character of the neighborhood. Forty-sixth Street has mostly two-story homes, and most of those speaking against the development believe that their neighborhood would be changed forever by such a project.
About two thirds of those who spoke were against the luxury apartment development.
Albert Rinaldi of West 41st Street questioned if the location would be “feasible, responsible, and good planning.”
Jill Pustorino of West 46th Street said the plan “negates the open space requirements” and that “environmental issues are completely being ignored.”
But there were also supporters of the project, who echoed what Hottendorf said.
“If this development comes in, the value of your properties will rise exponentially,” said Mitchell Brown of midtown.
Ben Costanza, a local real-estate agent and a former Bayonne councilman, urged those gathered to embrace the change the project would bring.
“It’s a positive thing,” he said. “We need a balance. We need yuppies.”

Holding off, for now

Late in the July 22 meeting, Council President Sharon Nadrowski moved that the ordinance be tabled after confusion arose about one council member’s vote on the matter. The tabling motion passed 4-0, and the council will further consider the ordinance at its Aug. 19 meeting.
The development would be built in the city’s Third Ward, which is represented by Councilman Gary La Pelusa. He said prior to the meeting that he would vote against the plan as long as it called for 9 or 10 stories.
Several of the residents who spoke said they would be comfortable with the development if it were no more than five stories.

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