The resolution, passed by the council by a 5-0 vote, authorizes the Bayonne Planning Board to conduct a study to determine whether the area bounded by 497-519 Broadway, West 23rd Street, Del Monte Drive, and West 24th Street is in need of redevelopment.
The measure is the first step in the overall redevelopment process, according to officials. Seven properties are covered by the resolution.
“There are only about a handful of properties involved,” a city spokesman said. “That makes it easy to focus.”
Several of the buildings in the potential redevelopment area have been damaged by “fire and severe weather events, and have fallen into disrepair,” according to city officials. The block also contains some empty commercial units, and two parcels consist of long-vacant land.
The administration has expressed an interest in working with property owners in the area to maintain their buildings properly and to revitalize the neighborhood. The redevelopment designation would offer them tools to encourage investment in the area, including the possibility of condemnation.
City code enforcement officials have inspected the buildings that are in disrepair. Enforcement actions have begun, and several violations of various codes have been issued. The owners have not been “particularly responsive” to the city’s efforts to get them to maintain their properties, city officials said.
According to the council’s resolution, “If the study area is determined to meet the criteria for designation as an area in need of redevelopment, the municipal council further authorizes the city to use all of those powers under the Redevelopment Law for use in a redevelopment area, including the power of eminent domain.”
In accordance with state law, the planning board will conduct a public hearing concerning the proposed redevelopment. Notice for that hearing will specify the area involved, the date of the hearing, and the municipal option to exercise the power of eminent domain, under which “the City of Bayonne or a designated developer could acquire any property in the area, because the parcels are being investigated for possible condemnation.”
The resolution states, “After conducting its investigation, preparing a map of the study area, and conducting a public hearing at which all objections to the designations are received and considered, the Planning Board shall make recommendations to the municipal council as to whether the municipal council should designate all or some of the study area as an area in need of redevelopment.”
“Our administration is determined to jumpstart development in the heart of Broadway,” said Mayor Mark Smith. “For buildings in this square block, we would like the redevelopment study to investigate the viability of combining retail businesses on the ground floors, office space on the second floors, and residential units on the third, fourth, and fifth floors. Our goal is to work in partnership with the existing property owners and a qualified redeveloper or a redevelopment group.”
City officials have pointed out that planned redevelopment around the 22nd Street Light Rail Station will generate additional foot traffic and activity on Broadway.
“As the national and regional economies continue to recover, the timing is right to consider the next phase of growth on Broadway,” Smith said. “We have an opportunity to bring new life to this neighborhood in the heart of Broadway. Let’s aim high and get to work on this exciting possibility.”
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.