JERSEY CITY - Just one week after it was reported that Jersey City had successfully negotiated a deal to sell a 2.5- acre plot of municipal land for $15 million, city officials announced the deal is now dead.
The deal was supposed to help fill a hole in the city budget.
Last week it was reported that Yitzchak Tessler of Tessler Development had agreed to purchase the 2.5-acre site adjacent to Jersey City Medical Center.
Tessler had planned to build a cancer research center and a two-tower residential development on the site. The medical facility was reportedly going to specialize in the research and use of proton therapy for cancer treatment.
However, in a statement released Monday night, Robert Antonicello, executive director of the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency, announced that his agency had received word that Tessler has put this project on hold indefinitely.
Quoting Tessler, Antonicello said the developer cited "market conditions [and] uncertainty for construction financing" as the reasons for sidelining the land deal.
The city has been trying to sell this site for the past several months and had hoped to sell it for $15 million to help close a structural deficit in its $477 million budget. The Tessler deal is at least the second one for this site to fall through.
Critics of the administration of Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy, including Ward E City Councilman Steven Fulop, have long argued that the city is unlikely to get $15 million for this site and have encouraged the administration to look for other ways to close the budget without raising property taxes.
The 2011 municipal budget was introduced in March, but has yet to be adopted by the City Council.
The administration said Monday evening that the loss of the Tessler project will not negatively affect the budget.
"We have been working on a Plan B for some time, and have identified additional revenue sources and areas where cuts can be made," Business Administrator Jack Kelly said Monday evening. "We have been able to realize additional revenues that were not readily apparent earlier in the year and conservative revenue estimates have proved just that, conservative. Items such as PILOT revenues, receipts from delinquent taxes and hotel tax revenues have been realized above initial projections."
The administration is expected to release a revised 2011 municipal budget on Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 6 p.m. at City Hall.
In the meantime, Antonicello said Healy has directed the Redevelopment Agency to "revisit the site for alternative solutions." - E. Assata Wright