St. Mary Garage
According to City Business Administrator Robert Drasheff, the city has set a tentative opening date of Feb. 1 for the 740-car St. Mary Parking Garage that is being built adjacent to the hospital between Third and Fourth streets on Clinton.
The opening of the garage is also a welcome sign for the hospital, which is waiting to move cars into the facility so that it can start the renovation and expansion of its Emergency Room. Construction could not start earlier because the expansion will take place where the hospital's current surface parking lot is located.
916 Garden St. garage contract extended
In November, the Hoboken Parking Authority entered into an agreement with Feldman Equities of Floral Park, N.Y. to sell the city's new automated parking garage at 916 Garden St. for a reported $5.75 million. Feldman is a company that is affiliated and working in concert with Robotic Parking Inc., the contractor that install the automated systems in the garage.
The original contract was to give the buyers 90 days to close on the property, which would put the closing date at the end of January. Now, according to the city's attorney, Joseph Sherman, the buyer has asked for an extension.
Wednesday, the City Council, the body that is now responsible for oversight of the HPA's contracts, voted to extend the closing date until Feb. 28. The council also extended the "due diligence" period until Feb. 10. According the city's attorney, the due diligence period is the amount of time specified in the contract that the buyer can walk away without penalty.
The extension was the subject of quite a bit of debate Wednesday.
Councilman Michael Cricco expressed his reservations that the contract did not fix the monthly rates in the garage. He said he was concerned that the sale would close and the new owners would raise the rate on Hoboken residents who have been waiting years to park their cars in the automated garage. The 324-car garage opened in October, there are currently 157 cars using the facility as the city slowly phases them in.
Construction on the project began in Jan. 2001. The hospital had donated the bulk of land to the Hoboken Parking Authority under a 99-year lease arrangement, and in turn the authority agreed to build, own and operate the facility. Now that the city has absorbed the assets of the HPA, the city will operate and maintain the garage.
Three hundred spaces will go to hospital employees and guests, 300 will be set aside for monthly resident parking, and 104 will be used for transient parking. According to city officials, the Parking Utility will be holding lottery on Friday Jan. 17 to determine which residents will be given spaces in the new garage. Residents who live within a four block radius of the facility will be given priority, but all residents are eligible to sign up for the lottery in the basement of City Hall, or they can call (201) 653-1919.
"I really think there should be some sort of protection for people renting space," said Cricco.
Sherman said that it was his supposition that if the council did not extend the contract, there is a possible likelihood that the buyer could walk away from the deal. That would force the city to re-bid the contract.
Both Sherman and Drasheff then assured the council that if the governing body agreed to extend the deadline, they would contact the buyer and attempt to negotiate a clause in the contract that will keep rates stable.