Other NJ News

Not So Fast Newark - Somerville Says It Has What Amazon Needs for HQ2

5b45261c16c96dde0d35_sompixnewarkamazon.jpg
Credits: Marc J. Bonamo
5b45261c16c96dde0d35_sompixnewarkamazon.jpg

SOMERVILLE, NJ - Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and assorted state and Essex County officials will try to convince online behemoth Amazon.com to invest billions in Newark as the ideal location for its planned expansion and an east coast headquarters complex worth billions to the state and local economy.

Somerville Mayor Brian Gallagher says not so fast, suggesting Somerville has just as much to offer the Seattle-based conglomerate as does Newark.

Amazon, the world's largest online retailer, announced its solicitation of North American regions earlier this year in a highly-competitive selection process for its second corporate headquarters, or HQ2 which would include upwards of 8 million square feet. 

Sign Up for E-News

The opportunity could bring 50,000 jobs and billions of dollars of private investment to the state.

Christie, accompanied by Booker, the former mayor of Newark and his successor, Mayor Ras Baraka, presided at a white-collar, bi-partisan pep rally Monday in Newark at Rutgers Business School, where Christie announced that the state would endorse Newark as New Jersey’s preferred location for Amazon’s self-described HQ2.

Failing to garner the state’s official endorsement, Somerville has decided to go it alone.

Just hours after the last guest had left Rutgers’ Newark campus Somerville’s Borough Council voted unanimously at its Monday night meeting to submit a formal response to Amazon’s RFP (Request for Proposal), joining more than 50 other cities and regions in the mega-billion sweepstakes.

While Christie and other invited guests spoke in superlatives about all that Newark has to offer, Colin Driver, Somerville’s Director of Economic Development, was already busy preparing the borough’s proposal, which centers on a 22-acre tract of property at the borough’s former landfill, a portion of which fronts on Route 206. The tract has been undergoing environmental remediation for several months.

Gallagher and Driver like the odds.

Driver believes Somerville has a 50/50 chance of being selected as a finalist for the Amazon jackpot, a decision expected sometime next year.

Gallagher likens Somerville’s bid to the Biblical story of David vs. Goliath which tells of the nine-foot giant Goliath, a soldier from Gath, who boasted he could beat any individual soldier in the Israelite army. Nobody in the army dared to take him on -- except David, a shepherd boy who believed strongly in God and who was able to vanquish Goliath.  

Driver said the property could easily accommodate a 500,000 square foot building, which Amazon has cited as the first step of its planned expansion. The RFP estimates Amazon will need 8 million square feet of space to complete its expansion.

“Their RFP says they’d like their first building to be close to a transportation hub and/or buses,” Driver said. “They would like to be in proximity to a downtown that’s got arts, entertainment, restaurants, an overall good community feel,” he added.

“They also want to be close to highways, airports and have available open space for recreation. It sounds like they’re describing Somerville,” Driver said.

The borough-owned property is also adjacent to the NJ Transit Raritan Valley line; close proximity to rail is one of Amazon’s criteria, along with access to interstate highways and airports. The proposed site is adjacent to the borough’s “Green Seam,” a passive recreation park that will weave through the 80-plus acres of the former landfill. Retail and/or residential development is also planned for the site.

Further expansion of a network of satellite campuses would afford adjacent towns in Somerset County an opportunity to to cash in on the Amazon jackpot, according to Driver.

Earlier this month, Somerville, in conjunction with the Somerset County Business Partnership and an assist from the Somerset County Freeholders, had submitted a formal RFP to the state’s Partnership for Action and the Business Action Center for consideration, as did other municipalities, including New Brunswick.

New Jersey had instructed those towns interested in pitching Amazon to send their proposals for its review and eventual endorsement; Somerville was notified that its proposal “did not meet the criteria set by the state and would therefore not be submitted with the state’s response,” according to the resolution approved by the Borough Council, which continued, “Be it resolved that the Borough Council authorizes the Administrator and Director of Economic Development to finalize the RFP response package and forward it to Amazon.com by the response deadline.”

“I can guarantee you if we do nothing, we will get nothing,” Gallagher said. “It is a David versus Goliath situation, but we’ve been known to take on the state before and prevail.

“I will hold Somerville and Somerset County up against any portion of this state, any day, any time,” Gallagher continued. “What this area has to offer for people to live in and work in is unmatched; you won’t find a caliber of lifestyle like this anywhere.

“We hit every mark they’re looking for,” Gallagher said.

Amazon has a long list of wants, not the least of which is a high quality of life for its employees – a robust downtown with world-class restaurants and shopping.

Somerville has that – and more, according to the mayor, quick to point out that Wolfgang’s, a highly-acclaimed steakhouse with international locations, chose to open in Somerville a few years ago.

“Take a step back; who would have thought that Somerville would attract a world class restaurant like Wolfgang’s,” he said.

"Newark was the clear winner of this competition, and Newark has earned the state's support," Christie said, citing the city's status as a unique education, technology, transportation, and cultural hub. 

Christie noted that the state was willing to give $5 billion dollars in tax incentives over ten years upon the creation of the 50,000 new jobs. 

"Let any other state go and try and beat that package," Christie said, also noting that the City of Newark was willing to offer a local, 20-year property tax abatement that could be worth another $1 billion dollars, and would waive its municipal wage tax to encourage Amazon to come to the city.

"Newark, New Jersey has often been maligned over the previous decades, but let's tell the truth about this incredible city. For centuries, Newark led this nation in innovation, in invention, and in industry as one of America's premier cities," said Booker, who served as the city's mayor from 2006 to 2013.

"Like all major Northeastern industrial cities, we saw tough times. But the truth of Newark in the last decade plus has been of a city charging back, and reclaiming its space, step by step, as one of America's greatest cities," Booker said. 

"Newark is not a charity case. It is the choice for companies who want to relocate and remain competitive and strong, not just in New Jersey and not just in our nation, but in a global context," Booker added.

“We’ve got a 50-50 shot like everybody else,” Driver said.  “If Amazon came back to us and said ‘it looks interesting, but we need financial assistance,’ we’d need the state to jump in; that would be better than not having anything at all,” he added. “It would be pretty stupid if we got to the point of being selected as a finalist and the state didn’t help the town.”

Amazon has set a deadline of Thursday, Oct. 19 to receive all proposals, according to Driver.

Newark isn’t the only big city in pursuit of Amazon.

“Boston is making a big push, Baltimore, Atlanta there are a number of serious players,” Driver said, “but I like the challenge of throwing our hat in the ring.

“We’ve got the space, everything they are looking for from a community/slash human point of view,” he added. A great downtown, the property  adjacent to the Green Seam which would give them a linear park alongside their headquarters,  all the new residential stuff going up near the train station.

“It’s a walkable, bikeable town,” he continued. “We’re 2-3 miles from every major highway in the area, there’s the bedroom communities to our west, north and south, we’ve got great universities, Rutgers, Princeton and Raritan Valley Community College and so it goes on.

“As a location that is central to most things, Somerville and Somerset County both are really ideal,” Driver said.

“Quality of life will play a big part in their decision; once they start doing their due diligence, the crime statistics in northern New Jersey, they might push back from that,” Driver said.

Much is at stake. Driver said a state planning official likened the competition for Amazon to a “feeding frenzy.” Jersey City hired a team of lawyers and planners to work on its proposal; Newark has a team of 10 people, according to Driver.   

No matter to Somerville.

“We’re going to give it our best shot, that’s for sure, Driver said.

“We’re up against the wizardry of technology and expensive lawyers putting together applications as far as the major cities go, but our application will rely on the magic of Somerville and Somerset County and the lifestyle we have,” Gallagher said.

“The state obviously has its favorite cities that they drive significant development to all the time; it’s not right,” Gallagher added. “It shouldn’t be that way. We took a look at the criteria that Amazon has put forth in their RFP and you know what, Somerville and Somerset County hits every mark.”

Gallagher said Somerville’s entry in the sweepstakes may pay dividends in other ways.

“We have the ability to attract Amazon; if not Amazon, there are those who are watching what Amazon does. It puts us on a map that we’re not on right now.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Morristown

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast: Episode 12

On this week’s episode of AtlantiCast, decade of excellence makes headlines, as Atlantic Health’s place on Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For List leads off the newest episode of AtlantiCast. Also on this week’s show, check out the newest “hybrid” operating room at Morristown Medical Center and find out how Atlantic Health is helping local ...

Guest Column: Help! My Boss is A Bully and Harasses Me

Women in all fields have experienced sexual harassment as well as sexual assault by the famous and the merely inconspicuous. Too often the powers that be in the workplace turn a blind eye or protect the harasser.  Worse yet, the harassment is often accompanied by bullying and intimidation.

What should you do if you find yourself in a situation where your boss or supervisor is sexually ...

Morris Animal Inn: February is National Pet Dental Health Month

MORRISTOWN, NJ - Throughout the month of February, when you schedule your dog's teeth brushing at Morris Animal Inn's Salon, your dog will receive a FREE Dental treat.

Schedule now at 973-532-5030 or visit www.morrisanimalinn.com

MCST Student Wins Rachael Ray's “Cook Your Way To Culinary School” Competition

February 21, 2018

DENVILLE, NJ - Nick Capone, a high school senior in the Academy for Culinary Arts at the Morris County School of Technology (MCST) in Denville, was one of four young aspiring chefs who competed to make their dreams of attending culinary school a reality in Rachael Ray’s “Cook Your Way to Culinary School” competition.

The competition aired Feb. 16 on RACHAEL RAY with the ...

Elizabeth Schools Report One Student Has Died from Flu Virus

February 19, 2018

ELIZABETH, NJ - The Elizabeth School District has reported that one student has died from Influenza (Flu).

“It is with great sadness that I must report to you that the Elizabeth School District has lost one of its own,”  Elizabeth Superintendent of Schools Olga Hugelmeyer wrote in a letter to parents over the weekend. The Superintendents letter is ...

Grand Reopening Activities for Morristown National Historical Park this Weekend

February 16, 2018

MORRISTOWN, NJ - The schedule of events for the Grand Opening of the Morristown National Historical Park's Discover History Center has been announced. From February 17 through February 20, visitors can attend a variety of talks, walks, interactive exhibits, and performances.  

All events will begin or occur at the Washington’s Headquarters Museum, 30 Washington ...

Morristown High School Presents 'Anything Goes'

MORRISTOWN, NJ - Rehearsals are underway for the 2018 Morristown High School production of Anything Goes. There will be four performances; Thursday March 8, Friday March 9, Saturday March 10 and Sunday March 11

Tickets are on sale and available at www.mhstix.com

Sign up to get all the news as it happens at www.TAPinto.net/enews and follow us on Facebook ...

Free Event

Happening today at 10am

Registration is Open for Morris Elite's Spring and Summer Camps

February 19, 2018

Morris Elite Soccer Camp will be offering four weeks of camp this summer. Don't miss out! Register now at https://www.morriselitesoccer.com/page/show/3890035-camps

Celebrate Presidents Day with Photography Exhibition on George Washington’s Headquarters

MORRISTOWN, NJ - The museum at New Jersey’s Morristown National Historical Park kicks off Presidents Day with the debut solo exhibition George Washington’s Headquarters:  Photographs by Xiomáro, curated by Jude M. Pfister, D.Litt, the park’s Chief of Cultural Resources.  Admission is free and the 24 large images of the Ford Mansion, which served as ...

Macculloch Hall Historical Museum Remembers Abraham Lincoln; Feb. 19

MORRISTOWN, NJ - Macculloch Hall Historical Museum is hosting a program for children on Monday February 19 titled, "Abraham Lincoln Remembered".

Kids can learn about Lincoln’s whistle-stop train trip that began on February 11, 1861 when he traveled from his home in Springfield, Illinois to Washington, DC, where he took the presidential oath of office and began his first term as ...

The HOPE ONE Van Comes to Morristown Library Feb. 8th

February 8, 2018

MORRISTOWN, NJ -  The HOPE ONE van will be at the Morristown & Morris Township Library on today, February 8 from 9am - 2pm. 

The  HOPE One vehicle, which previously was used in police tactical operations is now a mobile recovery access vehicle. The vehicle, which  has trained staff on site, provides individuals with information about rehab, detox services, ...

iCan Bike, a Bike Riding Camp For People With Disabilities, Comes To CCM in Randolph

RANDOLPH, NJ- iCan Bike, a camp to teach individuals with disabilities to ride a conventional two-wheel bicycle, is coming to County College of Morris in the summer of 2018.  CCM is generously providing the use of their gymnasium for the iCan Bike organizers to run their program in.

The camp, which will be held August 6-10, is one of several programs run under the auspices of iCan Shine, ...

Morrisown Students Invited to the Morris County Public Safety Youth Academy

February 19, 2018

MORRISTOWN, NJ - The sixth-annual Morris County Public Safety Youth Academy program will be held this July for students entering grades 9-12 in the fall. Enrollment will begin March 1 and close April 8. The program is designed for students entering Grades 9 – 12 in the fall of this year.  

The 2018 program will be held the week of July 23 – July 27 (Mon – ...

Brendan Fletcher of "The Voice" Named as a Judge for Morristown ONSTAGE

MORRISTOWN, NJ – The Morris Educational Foundation (MEF) has announced this year’s panel of professional judges which includes 2016 semi-finalist on The Voice and New Jersey native, Brendan Fletcher.  Brendan was introduced to Morristown ONSTAGE last year when his friend and fellow musician, Jay Phatak, competed for the top prize and won last year’s 19 and over ...

Morris Township Firemen Host Valentine's Day Flower and Gift Sale

MORRIS TOWNSHIP, NJ - Planning on getting roses for someone special this Valentine's Day? Why not get them from the HIllside Fire House and help support the Morris Township Emergency Management Association and the Morris Township Firefighter's Mutual Benevolent Association Local 70 .

The roses will be on sale at the Hillside Fire House, 132 Western Avenue on February 12 ...

Height during childhood associated with increased stroke risk in adulthood

Researchers in Denmark studied the health records of more than 300,000 people born between 1930 and 1989 and found that those who were shorter than average height between ages 7 and 13 had a greater risk of stroke as adults. The results of this study were published in the February 15, 2018 issue of the journal Stroke.

Summary: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320922.php

Journal ...

The 33% Approval Rating of this Administration Illustrates One Thing: The Electoral College Failed

The 33% Approval Rating of this Administration Illustrates One Thing: The Electoral College Failed

Jeff Sessions-  “Why would be bring somebody into the country who is illiterate in their own language?”  -To Tucker Carlson on FOX.

The most frustrating thing about the television is the one sided conversations that take place.  When the Attorney General, Jeffrey B.

Top 5 Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Professional When Buying or Selling in NJ

Team Nest Builder knows that whether you are buying or selling a New Jersey home it can be quite the adventure, which is why you need an experienced real estate professional to guide you on the path to achieving your ultimate goal. But in this world of instant gratification and internet searches, many sellers think that they can ‘For Sale by Owner’ or ...

NYJ Class for Young Mindless Players

If only this was true.....

Good morning. My name is Todd Bowles, head coach for the New York Jets, as you are all aware. Today we will be going over some of the stupidest things you should not do while playing for the NFL. Your agent should have gone over the NFL conduct rules and the New York Jets rules (although sometimes ours are a little less harsher, hush, hush) while you were signing ...

Super Carb Diet by Bob Harper

Super Carb Diet by Bob Harper with Danny Pellegrino (St. Martin's Press, 2017)

It's hard to go on a serious diet, one on which you expect to be successful and maintain a loss. Fortunately, in his new book Super Carb Diet, Bob Harper has given the weight watching world a sensible new diet plan to help achieve a healthy weight.

Harper, host of NBC's popular show The Biggest Loser, ...

Game of Thrones: A Definitive Ranking of Seasons 1-7

Groundhog Day. The day a tiny mammal’s shadow tells us when winter will come to an end. Me? I prefer my weather forecast in the form of a white raven (the telltale changing of seasons in Westeros).

For a few days, rumors spread that Game of Thrones will not return for its final season until April 2019, and while it was clarified that the April return date was likely a false rumor, HBO ...

'What Stays' exposes family secrets and lies

‘What Stays’ exposes family secrets, resentment and lies

By Liz Keill

SUMMIT, NJ – In an original play by Laura Ekstrand and Jason Szamreta, the Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre has provided an enlightening, funny and heart-felt view of family foibles.

Ekstrand has said that the germ of the play came from conversations with the ensemble members of the troupe, based on ...

Act with Love and Kindness Always

February 21, 2018

When we moved to Parkland a few months ago, my dreams came true. I was near my family, I was away from the cold weather, I had a brand new house, even my very own swimming pool. Our street is lined with palm trees and is filled with children to play with my kids. We moved here for family, for weather, for happiness. We picked Parkland because it was the safest place with the very best schools. It ...

Good News in NJ for Veterans

February 21, 2018

Beginning in the 2017 tax year, New Jersey will give an additional $3,000 exemption for military veterans. You are eligible to claim this exemption NJ state income tax return if you are a military veteran who was honorably discharged or released under honorable circumstances from active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States on or before the last day of the tax year.

 

The ...

Guest Column: How to Talk with Kids About the Florida Shooting

Guest Column

The tragedy of the Florida school shooting is devastating leaving 17 killed and 15 injured. Our children can easily identify with what occurred yesterday. It will be the topic of conversation today in schools everywhere. School administrators are doing all they can to provide support and guidance. The shootings affect children, teachers, and school personnel. The ...

Upcoming Events

Thu, February 22

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Thu, February 22, 9:00 AM

The Center for Contemporary Art, Bedminster

Andrea Gianchiglia: Tools of the Trade

Arts & Entertainment

Thu, February 22, 9:00 AM

The Center for Contemporary Art, Bedminster

Keepers of the Chroma: An Exhibition Regarding ...

Arts & Entertainment

MORRIS COUNTY PARK POLICE BLOTTER 2-5 through 2-6, 2018

February 21, 2018

2/5: ARRESTS FOR NARCOTICS: Officers executed a motor-vehicle stop for a moving violation in Hanover Township. An investigation led to Om A. Patel, age 26, of Iselin, and Ranbir Singh, age 26, of South Plainfield, to be charged with Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. They were both released with a court date pending.

2/5: ARREST FOR ...

CCM Library to Offer Free Workshops in Grant Writing and Fundraising Workshops Provided by Foundation Center’s Funding Information Network

February 19, 2018

RANDOLPH, NJ – The County College of Morris (CCM) Library’s Foundation Center Funding Information Network is offering three free workshops on the Foundation Center products during the college’s Spring Break, March 12-15.   The CCM Library is a participant in the Foundation Center’s Funding Information Network. Network partners provide a suite of ...