JERSEY CITY, NJ - In what was being seen as a minor battle in a much larger war, A court decision in favor of Jersey City over Kushner Companies will make the possible redevelopment of a symbolic site on Journal Square unlikely any time soon.
A superior court ruled that the City of Jersey City does not have to correct deficiencies in 25 of more than 18,000 emails Kushner Companies requested as part of a lawsuit filed against the city. The court previously had ordered city officials to provide the emails and to pay Kushner Companies $200,000 in legal fees.
Kushner Companies is seeking to prove that the city’s refusal to give necessary financing and permits to the One Journal was by virtue of the fact that Jared Kushner is the son-in-law of President Donald Trump, rendering the denial politically motivated.
One Journal Square has long been a politically symbolic project. Mayor Steven Fulop emphasized the site’s lack of development in his successful 2013 mayoral bid against former Mayor Jerremiah Healy.
Historically the center of commerce for New Jersey’s second largest city, Journal Square has been a retail center to which people have flocked for decades. In contrast to the massive development that has taken place along the waterfront, the area’s downward spiral over the last twenty years has symbolized an urban center in decline, and has been the center of many pitched political battles about how to restore it.
The property involved in the lawsuit previously held a hotel and some stores that have lain vacant for more than a decade.
Early on, Fulop seemed to embrace a proposal by Kushner to bring the $825 million project, including two towers, one 70 stories and the other 50, more than 3,000 residential units, and 160,000 square feet of commercial space to the underutilized space.
But later, the city officials denied the abatement for the project, saying Kushner had failed to find the necessary financing in time to qualify for them as the reason.
Kushner then filed a federal lawsuit, claiming the denial was based on national politics not on the merit of the project – a lawsuit that was dismissed late last year. Though Jared Kushner was involved in the project early on, he has not been since taking a role as a senior adviser in the Trump Administration, according to a spokesman for Kushner Cos.
The company filed an amended lawsuit which has seen numerous delays, including one based on the city’s apparent failure to provide the emails requested.
The latest battle over the emails involved 25 emails that apparently were redacted, and Kushner companies wanted access to the information taken out. In ruling against Kushner, the court said the company did not provide a list of these emails in a timely fashion. The city, however, did argue before the court that these emails were property redacted.
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