At the same meeting, the council introduced changes to an existing tax on the city's hotels and motels that will enable Jersey City to keep more of the tax.
Also, the council put off voting for controversial changes to the city's R-1 zoning (which governs one and two-family) homes that would let homeowners park on their land if they had 15 feet of space in front of their house.Goldman Sachs 'campus' on Hudson Street
The investment firm Goldman Sachs is well known in Jersey City as having the state's tallest building, with their 42-story, 792 foot headquarters at 30 Hudson St.
Now they are looking to build tall again.
The City Council approved changes to the Colgate Redevelopment Plan on Wednesday, which is the area of the downtown Jersey City waterfront near the old Colgate Toothpaste factory. Due to the changes, Goldman Sachs is allowed to build a 500-foot tall building instead of 185 feet.
Also, the redevelopment plan also allows for an open air plaza where there will be over 21,000 square feet of retail space. Previously under the plan, an atrium was to have been built.
In the ordinance approved by the council allowing for the changes to the plan, it is stated that the reason is that "Goldman Sachs owns the site and has constructed an underground parking garage under this site" and "The original plan for this site as a worldwide training center has changed and the concept has emerged for a Goldman Sachs campus centered on the Hudson River."
But there are questions about Goldman Sachs seeking to build a new, taller building at a time when their 30 Hudson St. location is filled to half-capacity with employees. The company is also constructing a new headquarters in Lower Manhattan near Battery Park.
Goldman Sachs executive Timor Galen said during the council meeting that the proposed new tower for 50 Hudson St. was necessary to redistribute the workforce between 30 Hudson St. and the future Lower Manhattan headquarters. He also said by next year he expects the 30 Hudson St. building to be "two-thirds" full. Can you park on your own land?
Already an unpopular proposal with the public, the proposed changes to the city's R-1 zoning were tabled by the council. The main issue in the changes was an alteration that would allow residents to park on land in front of their houses.
Some residents said this would eliminate street parking and put historic homes in danger of being altered to fit the driveway rule.
The changes would have allowed homeowners with 15 feet of space in front of their house park to on their land. The would allow homeowners to change their property so the houses were further back from the street, and their backyards could be smaller.
The changes were suggested by Ward D City Councilman Bill Gaughan to address the problem of on-street parking, especially in the Heights section of the city. The increased development there has brought more cars.
But there was flood of disapproval expressed by residents at the Aug. 9 Planning Board meeting, where the issue was also discussed.
This past Wednesday, a vote on the matter was put off.
Gaughan said Wednesday that the proposed changes "take a little more initiative and study" to see what changes can be left alone and others that can be tweaked. But he was unrepentant in pursuing the issue of on-street parking. He will plan a meeting with the public, council members, the city's traffic engineers and representatives of the Jersey City Parking Authority in September to discuss "this important issue" further. Hotel tax passed
The changes to the city's "hotel tax" that was introduced by the City Council came out of legislation that Mayor Jerramiah Healy advocated for on a state level, that was passed by state legislators in July. The council is expected to approve the new tax at their next meeting on Sept. 13.
The new law will forbid hotel and motel owners from deducting their property taxes from the hotel tax they pay to the city.
However not everyone was on board with the changes.
John Rojan, manager of the Courtyard by Marriott hotel on Washington Boulevard, said the change would pose a financial problem as the hotel would be forced to cut back on their mostly minority, predominately local staff. He said hotel rates could increase, hurt their ability to bring in customers.
City Business Administrator Brian O'Reilly said that several new hotels will be built in the next year in Jersey City and that rates at local hotels have gone up 40 percent.
City Council President Mariano Vega also said that Secaucus collects taxes directly from the hotels in their town. Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org