Business & Finance

Not So Fast Newark; Mayor Says Somerville Ideal Home for Amazon HQ2

5b45261c16c96dde0d35_sompixnewarkamazon.jpg
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, center, with Sen. Cory Booker, right, and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka at the Rutgers Business School in Newark on Monday. 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.”

 

Editor’s Note: Tapinto Newark reporter Marc J. Bonamo contributed to this story.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Nutley

Nutley Police Department's Annual Bike Rodeo is Wednesday May 23

May 19, 2018

NUTLEY, NJ - The Nutley Police Department annual Bike Rodeo returns to the Township of Nutley Public Safety Headquarters on Thursday May 23 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The event date was changed to to inclement weather.

The event will include an obstacle course, safety inspections, bike safety, and helmet fittings, The first 100 kids at the event will receive a bike helmet. 

The ...

Applications for 2018 Nutley Junior Police Academy Available in Public Schools for grades 5 to 8

NUTLEY, NJ - Summertime, and the livin' won't be so easy for the Nutley youth who report for the annual of Junior Police Academy Summer program. 

The program, lead by Detective Sergeant Michael Padilla, introduces youth to the hard work and training that goes into becoming a police officer. The kids  will do drills, work on being a part of a team ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_a81dc540efff370ae7ae_mini_magick20180521-88833-181vqmc

Tue, May 22, 6:00 PM

Montclair Public Library, Montclair

How to Live Longer and Stay Healthy

Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_cbeffd5a5b6504819cd7_tapinto_election_2018

Wed, May 23, 7:00 PM

Livingston Community Center (lower level), Livingston

NJ-11 Congressional Candidates Debate, hosted by ...

Education Government Law & Justice

Carousel_image_40b003ff9ce0ffa8ab85_appropriate

Thu, May 24, 8:00 PM

Upper Montclair

Appropriate

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_b4f18dfd4f07fd561026_letslisten7-ellington-mplspecs-revised

Fri, May 25, 6:00 PM

Montclair Public Library Auditorium, Montclair

Let's Listen to Jazz

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_40b003ff9ce0ffa8ab85_appropriate

Fri, May 25, 8:00 PM

Upper Montclair

Appropriate

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_99142f7b5a1dd8d2792d_into_the_woods

Tue, May 29, 7:00 PM

Studio Playhouse, Upper Montclair

Into the Woods Auditions

Arts & Entertainment

Nutley High School Students Register New Voters During Lunch

May 20, 2018

New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, the League of Women Voters of New Jersey, and the NJ Social Studies Supervisors Association are teaming up to organize a voter registration drive called #MyVoiceMyVoteNJ.

Voter registration took place in high schools across the state and right here in the NHS cafeteria from May 3 until May 11.

Students stopped by during their lunch ...

Nutley Police Officers visit Mrs. Dingwell and Mrs. Cassie's Classes at Spring Garden School

NUTLEY, NJ - Officer Melilli and Detective / Sgt. Padilla were out at Spring Garden School! last week.

We were invited to read a book to Mrs. Dingwell and Mrs. Cassie`s kindergarten classes. We chose Kindness is Cooler with Mrs. Ruler which seemed to be a big hit. We answered questions and did a coloring activity with the class.

We were very fortunate and received a picture signed by the ...

On3

More than 1800 Apply to First Class at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University in Nutley

April 17, 2018

NUTLEY, NJ - 1872 applications were received to be a part of the first class at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University where the first class of 55 students will start July 9.

Those students will be a part of the plan to address the shortage of physicians in New Jersey and forge a new path in medical education that addresses profound changes in health ...

Hackensack Meridian Health establishes $100 million endowment for Seton Hall Medical School in Nutley

NUTLEY, NJ - The Hackensack Meridian Health Board of Trustees recently voted to establish a $100 million endowment fund for scholarships to Seton Hall Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine on the On3 campus in Nutley and Clifton NJ. The endowment will ensure top students can afford a medical education according to co-CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health Robert C.

Two Montclair Residents Sworn-in as Advocates for Foster Youth

May 22, 2018

MONTCLAIR, NJ - Two Montclair residents were sworn-in as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA).

On May 18, Jessica Siegal and Loreen Fennell of Montclair were sworn-in as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) by Essex County Superior Court Judge Grimbergen.  

Siegal and Fennell completed 33 hours of training ...

Original Pancake House of West Caldwell Evacuated in Possible Pepper Spray Incident

WEST CALDWELL, NJ — The Original Pancake House in West Caldwell was evacuated early Saturday afternoon due to a possible pepper spray incident that caused ambulances from the West Essex, Verona and Bloomfield First Aid Squads to assist at the scene.

Bianca Pietro, a West Orange mother of two, said she was seated inside the glass atrium on the south side of the building that faces ...

Buy a Vet... Program Helps Formerly Homeless Veterans

May 21, 2018

SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ - It started with a collection to help fund a Memorial Day barbecue at the Valley Brook Village veterans facility in Lyons, NJ. When the bucket collection raised $7,000 at John's Meat Market in downtown Scotch Plains, they decided to keep it going and had barbecues all summer. The program has grown ever since.

Steve Hackenberg, a Scotch Plains ...

Peru Claims 1-0 Victory Over Colombia as Soccer Legends Show Off Skills in Paterson

PATERSON, NJ- During their playing days Carlos Valderama and Julio Uribe led their teams to victory in some of the largest soccer stadiums across the globe. On Saturday, the men, known better as “El Pibe” and Uribe, brought their talents to Paterson’s Baurele Field.

The rain did nothing to dampen the spirits of the nearly 500 fans who turned out to watch these beloved players ...

Southern Ocean Made Brew Trail Awarded for NJ Tourism Excellence

May 18, 2018

SHIP BOTTOM, N.J. -The Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce proudly announces its selection for the The New Jersey Tourism Industry Excellence Award for its recently launched Southern Ocean Made Surf & Sip Brew Trail. They join a select group across the state being recognized for the accomplishments of those who achieved true excellence in providing an exceptional experience that ...

Nutley Police Department Blotter May 12 to 18, 2018

May 19, 2018

NUTLEY, NJ - The Police Blotter is compiled each week by Det. Sgt. Anthony Montanari of the Crime Intelligence Public Information Division of the Nutley Police Department.

Please note:  All parties placed under arrest have been assigned a court date and remain innocent until proven guilty of those charges at their respective hearing

Anyone who has information about any crimes can ...

How Can Sports Therapy Loosen Up Winter Muscles?

Whether you are new to the gym or a seasoned athlete, the winter weather can affect your body. In these cold conditions, muscles are forced to work harder to complete tasks. This extra effort can result in muscle soreness and damage to tissue. While you may not be able to avoid the cold, preventive measure can help avoid discomfort and injury. Learning and implementing sports therapy techniques, ...

Pro Staff Institute announces partnership with Uber Health

NUTLEY, NJ - Pro Staff Institute is proud to announce their participation in Uber Health, a new transportation program designed to provide transportation to patients. Pro Staff Institute is the first physical therapy center in the nation to leverage Uber Health, and joins over other 100 health care organizations in the U.S., including hospitals, clinics, rehab centers and senior care ...

Therapy as Preventative Medicine for Couples

     In my years of practice, I have yet to treat a couple whose relationship was not on the precipice of ruin at the time of first contact. Their intakes are rife with blame, and subsequent sessions reveal neither partner understands his/her role in the dysfunctional dyad. Though not impossible, it is daunting work for any therapist to help rebuild relationships demolished by ...

Why “Can’t" is Not Allowed in My Therapy Room

Many of us enter therapy struggling with external locus of control. We blame partners for dysfunctional relationships, accuse the universe of conspiring against us, or suggest demons assume command of our behavior. When these premises arise in therapy, I strive to help clients accept responsibility for their behaviors. Finding the word “Can’t” most often used by clients to avoid ...

This week at the Nutley Public Library May 22 - 30 2018

NUTLEY PUBLIC LIBRARY - Upcoming Events:

Tuesday, May 22, 29 - 1:00 pm - Play Bridge - No registration required.

Wednesday, May 23, 30 - 1:00 pm - Wednesday Afternoon Knitters - Come share your love of knitting and crocheting with both beginning and experienced knitters. Meet fellow knitters, brush-up on your skills, and learn some new techniques.

Nutley Public Library May 2018 Events

The Nutley Free Public Library has a calendar full of events and programs for May 2018

Tuesday, May 1 at 2:00 Tuesday Afternoon Book Club at Nutley Parkside Apartments.  The Nutley Public Library hosts a monthly book discussion at the Nutley Parkside Apartments, 7 William Street, the first Tuesday of each month.  The book discussed will be On Chesil Beach by ...

Countdown to Kindergarten Picnic at DeMuro Park May 31

COMMISSIONER TUCCI INVITES YOUNGSTERS TO A COUNTDOWN TO KINDERGARTEN PICNIC
Calling all Nutley youngsters entering Kindergarten September 2018! Commissioner Mauro G. Tucci and the Department of Parks and Recreation have announced the addition of the Countdown to Kindergarten Recreation Picnic to help welcome our new students to their elementary school days!

Join us on Thursday, May 31, 2018 ...

Registration for Spring Tennis Lessons Now Open

Commissioner Mauro G. Tucci announces Spring Tennis Lesson registration is now open!  The Nutley Department of Parks and Recreation offers a top quality tennis program, directed under the supervision of Barry Rubach, an accredited member of the U.S. Professional Tennis Association and former Collegiate Champion.  Classes range in age groups starting in 1st grade and continuing through ...

Tackle Football Registration Scheduled For Thursday May 10

Commissioner Tucci and the Department of Parks and Recreation have announced that Tackle Football Registration will be held on May 10th  from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Parks and Recreation Building, Room 201. This program is open to Nutley youngsters in grades 3-8.  The fee for late registration is $115.00 per player. Please note that in-person registration is mandatory ...

The Jaffe Briefing - May 22, 2018




The Jaffe Briefing will not publish from Thursday through Monday. A great Memorial Day to all!


MANVILLE - If marijuana becomes legal in New Jersey, here's another town where you won't be able to buy it: Manville. The mayor and council unanimously voted to prohibit any sale of weed - recreational and medicinal - within Manville's borders. The ...

Letter to Parents about Netflix Teen Suicide Series 13 Reasons Why

May 17, 2018

Dear Parents,

Just as I did last year at this time, I want to take a moment to write to you regarding season two of the Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why. The second season premieres, with tremendous promotion, on Netflix tomorrow, Friday, May 18.

The series, based on the 2007 young adult book of the same name, delves into the topic of teen suicide. During the first season, the main character, ...

Letter to the Editor: Gum Litter and what YOU can do about it

Gum is non-biodegradable, meaning it doesn't’t break down ever….

Today, the unlikely problem surfaces. The average person chews 275 sticks of gum per year. With the amount of people in daily society, it’s no mystery why chewing gum is the second most littered item after cigarette butts.  Did you know that gum is banned in Singapore?

In addition to littering human ...

To the Editor: Notes for Mr. and Mrs. Webber On How to Complain About Stuff

Well, it looks like I have at least three things in common with Jay and Johanna Webber: (a) We live in the 11th District; (b) We believe family is important; (c) We have experienced life in big families -- I'm the third of seven kids myself. So of course I noticed the statements the Webbers recently shared on Facebook – which took something one person said about Jay’s ...

School’s Out: Your Exclusive Summer Getaway Guide

May 20, 2018

Summer... a time to do whatever you please without having the stress of school or work.

But like many others, you may find yourself unsure of how to spend your summer days. So, if you’re looking for something cool to do when it’s hot, consider these ideas:

Get Cultured: Metropolitan Museum of Art: If you’re fascinated with art of all sorts from classic to modern, then this ...

New Jersey Base North of United States Submarine Veterans marked the 118 Birthday of The United States Submarine Force

On April 11th members of the New Jersey Base North of United States Submarine Veterans marked the 118 Birthday of The United States Submarine Force with their annual visit to the grave of the inventor of the modern submarine - John Holland. We conducted a brief tolling of the bells for our lost submarines with a prayer service at his grave at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Totowa NJ.

As the lay ...

Can a career be more fun in retirement?

Lantern Hill resident Gabe Spera, like many older Americans, chooses to stay in the workforce.

Gabe Spera has come full circle in his career as a salesman. Sixty years ago, he was just starting out, making cold calls, meeting new people every day. After working his way up the ladder to vice president of sales for Hunt Imaging, he’s now right back where he started—and happier than ...

Donald Shauger Leads 2018 West Orange St. Patrick’s Day Parade as Grand Marshal

As a child, Donald Shauger grew up idolizing Thomas Edison. To Shauger, who often spent his childhood days taking his prized Edison phonograph to West Orange’s Thomas Edison National Historical Park, Edison epitomized the spirit of the hardworking West Orange community. In the eyes of a young child growing up in West Orange—a town where Edison left behind a substantial ...

Music Under the June Moon Outdoor Concert in Anderson Park June 9

May 21, 2018

MONTCLAIR, NJ - Enjoy a magical evening of moonlight and music in Anderson Park in Montclair on Saturday, June 9, with the third annual "Music Under the June Moon" chamber music concert.

Bring a picnic and a blanket and enjoy the Chamber Music Society of North Jersey playing under the park's historic Olmsted Oak. This free concert begins at 8 ...

Golf Outing On May 26 Benefits Retired Racehorses

MILLSTONE TOWNSHIP, N.J. —May 29, will mark Standardbred Retirement Foundation's (SRF) 26th Annual Charity Golf Outing being held at the beautiful Battleground Country Club in Manalapan, N.J.

This much anticipated event is held in conjunction with SRF's online auction which will open for bidding beginning Friday, May 25 and end at 7 p.m. on  Thursday, June 7. The outing ...

Beyond Speed Bumps! Alternatives for Traffic Calming: Free Conference June 9 at Seton Hall University

South Orange Neighborhoods Association (SONA) in conjunction with South Orange Seniors and North Jersey Neighborhoods Connected (NJNC) will be sponsoring "BEYOND SPEED BUMPS - Alternatives for Traffic Calming," a free conference at Seton Hall University on June 9 from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Not every town can afford to put in a speed bump! And they can't do it on ...

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin's Press, 2018)

            What is the “final frontier” on the Earth's surface? Many people would say Alaska, the 49th state, which was added to the United States fifty years ago. Once one has traveled to that remote land, it is impossible to forget the magnificence of the terrain and beasts. Floating by ship in Glacier Bay, surrounded by ...

The Man in Room 306 at the Luna Stage, West Orange, NJ

            The Luna Stage, a Jersey theater gem, chose to revive its 1995 world premiere drama, The Man in Room 306, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the slaying of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Starring Jamil A.C. Mangan as Dr. King, this 90 minute production portrays Dr. King in the last hours of his life as he struggles to write a speech for the Poor ...

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins (Riverhead Books, 2017)

 

I wanted to like Into the Water by Paula Hawkins because I had enjoyed her previous novel, The Girl on the Train, which was a suspenseful thriller. However, when I finished reading the first part of the Into the Water, I realized that I had not absorbed anything that was happening in the story. I blamed myself for not paying ...

TAPinto Featured Franchisee: Steve Lenox of TAPinto Paterson

This week's feature will focus on TAPinto Paterson's franchisee, Steve Lenox. Find out how the current owner of a public affairs firm went from a former State Director for Senator Frank Lautenberg to a proud TAPinto franchisee for New Jersey's third largest city.

 

Q. When did you join TAPinto.net?

I joined TAPinto.net in September, ...

Obituaries

Jul 4, 1933 - May 18, 2018
Maria A. Probst (nee: Geiger), 84 of Bloomfield passed away on May 18. Her final days were spent ...
Read more
Jul 21, 1966 - Apr 6, 2018
Sheila Rossi (nee Borges) 51, of Nutley, NJ died peacefully on April 6, 2018. Visitation will be ...
Read more