The council also tabled an ordinance to add metered parking to Washington Boulevard.
No CAN do yet
It was early in the meeting that the council introduced an ordinance granting a 30-year tax abatement for a condominium project being built at the old American Can Company site on Dey Street near Journal Square. It will be subject to the council's approval at the next council meeting on April 24.
The American Can Company, formerly known as Canco, built the factory in 1929 for $5 million. The company operated out of Jersey City until 1974, when it closed operations and move to Connecticut and New York. In its heyday, the company was responsible for making aerosol cans, milk cartons, and glass bottles with brand names such as Dixie and Marathon.
The renovation of the factory building will be done in two phases, with construction expected to start later this spring. The developer, Coalco Construction Services, seeks to build 202 condominiums and 145 parking spaces in the first phase and then add 309 more condos with 295 parking spaces in the second.
A tax abatement is an agreement to exempt a developer from regular, fluctuating property taxes. There is usually a separate revenue deal in place for the developer to pay money to the city over 20 or 30 years. The city benefits from abatements because the resulting Payment in Lieu of Tax (PILOT) money goes straight to the city rather than being split among the city, the county, and the schools.
At Wednesday's meeting, Vega and Ward D City Councilman Bill Gaughan said they would vote to introduce the abatement, but wanted the developer provide more green and parking spaces.
City Councilman at-Large Peter Brennan said he wanted some affordable senior housing included in the project. Fulop voted against introducing the abatement, stating 30 years is too long a time.
Ward C City Councilman Steve Lipski asked the council to approve the abatement, calling the condominium project a "mammoth" undertaking that is the second largest re-use project in the city behind redeveloping the Jersey City Medical Center.
Lipski claimed the abatement would spur development in a part of Journal Square that is rapidly growing. A quarter for their thoughts
Also at the meeting, Sonia Maldonado, president of the Newport Waterfront Association, was upset over two ordinances that would allow metered parking spaces on both sides of Washington Boulevard between Thomas Gangemi Drive and 14th Street.
Ward E City Councilman Steven Fulop proposed the ordinances.
Maldonado argued that the spaces would be a financial and physical inconvenience for Newport residents and called for both ordinances to be rejected. She backed up her points by reading a letter she sent to City Councilman at-Large Peter Brennan.
"Our resident members would like to see both ordinances denied in their, entirety as the interest of the residents should outweigh any slight benefit that may be perceived by Councilman Steven Fulop, who introduced the legislation on behalf of the LeFrak Organization," said Maldonado.
The LeFrak Organization is the developer of Newport.
Maldonado said she learned from City Council President Mariano Vega that Fulop proposed the ordinances to create metered parking spaces to accommodate patrons visiting restaurants located in Newport. She pointed out that most of the restaurants already offer free validated parking.
Fulop defended the ordinances, saying there is no parking in the area where the meters would be placed and that the city could make a "couple of extra shekels."
He also said a committee would study the issue further.
The council tabled the ordinances. Fulop was not there for the vote because he left early to observe Passover. Mechanisms of government
Meanwhile, the council also taught the workings of municipal government for about 25 students from the University Academy Charter High School on West Side Avenue, whose teachers accompanied them.
Teacher Todd Church said he and his colleague Bob Donnelly brought his junior and senior students to City Hall so that they would see first-hand what they have been learning about the mechanisms of government in their history classes.
"Many of the students told me they had never visited City Hall, and while some said they walked past City Hall, they had very little idea of went on in there," said Church.
Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at email@example.com