Other NJ News

Online Retailer Amazon Rejects Somerville as Potential Location for Massive “HQ2”

179187c01481da513189_sompixamazonsign.jpg
179187c01481da513189_sompixamazonsign.jpg

SOMERVILLE, NJ – Amazon released its short list of  20 potential sites to build a massive east coast headquarters Thursday, disappointing more than 200 other cities and smaller towns that had salivated over the prospect of 50,000 new jobs and billions of dollars in associated economic benefits – including Somerville.

The 20 finalists include the city of Newark; a total of 238 cities, towns and counties had submitted proposals.

Other finalists include Atlanta, Austin, Texas, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Ohio, Dallas, Denver, Indianapolis Los Angeles, Miami, Montgomery County, Md., Nashville, New York City, Northern Virginia, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Raleigh, N.C., Toronto and Washington, D.C.

Sign Up for E-News

In October, Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and assorted state and Essex County officials submitted a formal RFP (Request for Proposal) to Amazon in an effort to convince the online behemoth to invest billions in the state’s largest city, promoting Newark as the ideal location for Amazon’s “HQ2”, an east coast headquarters complex totaling 8 million square feet worth billions to the state and local economy.

Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, has said its expansion could generate 50,000 new jobs.

Christie, accompanied by Booker, the former mayor of Newark and his successor, Mayor Ras Baraka, presided at a white-collar, bi-partisan pep rally in mid-October 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.

Former Somerville Mayor Brian Gallagher said at the time that Somerville had just as much to offer the Seattle-based conglomerate as did Newark.

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

“We responded to their RFP and worked with the Somerset County Business Partnership to pull together a package,” explained Colin Driver, Somerville Economic Development director. “We knew there were bigger players and that the state was pushing Newark, but we felt we had to throw our hat in the ring so we did.

“It was quite obvious from day one that the state wasn’t going to support the smaller towns, they put all of their eggs in basket; they put together a huge financial package for Newark,” Driver added.

“That’s what Amazon is looking for, the biggest financial break they can get; if they can essentially build a facility where the costs are offset by the financial incentive and generate a whole lot of jobs, that’s a good thing, wherever they go,” he added.

“I would have liked it be in Somerville, but we weren’t picked, obviously.”

The borough’s Amazon proposal was centered on a 22-acre tract of property at the former landfill, a portion of which fronts on Route 206. The tract has been undergoing environmental remediation for several months.

Driver said the property could have easily accommodated a 500,000 square foot building, which Amazon has cited as the first step of its planned 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 have afforded adjacent towns in Somerset County an opportunity to cash in on the Amazon jackpot, according to Driver.

Early in October, 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 Jersey City and 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 a resolution approved by the Borough Council authorizing the submission of the FP directly to Amazon.

"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.

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

 “The state obviously has its favorite cities that they drive significant development to all the time; it’s not right,” Gallagher said in October. “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

Union

REMINDER: Celebrate Women's History Month at the Union Public Library

February 21, 2018

Someone Must Wash the Dishes: An Anti-Suffrage Satire on Monday, March 12 at 6:30 pm at the Union Public Library. Join us to celebrate Women's History Month with this live first person interpretation about the  sociological, historical, and political context of the time period.

For decades, countless American women fought for the right to vote. But many others—like the ...

Easter Egg Hunt and Magic Show at the Golden Rule Lodge

UNION, NJ - The first annual "Kids Just Want to be Kids" Easter Egg Hunt and Magic Show is scheduled for March 31 from 10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.  The egg hunt will run from 10:30 - 11:30 and the magic show from 11:30 - 12:15.

This free community event will be held at the Golden Rule Lodge, 221 Oswald Place in Vauxhall.  Parents are asked to bring an Easter basket for ...

The Week Ahead in Union

UNION, NJ - Happenings in Union this week:

Monday, 2/19

President’s Day - Municipal Building Closed

•Union Township Active Retirees (Monday Club), 9:00 a.m., Senior Center

Tuesday, 2/20

•SID Meeting, 8:30 a.m., Town Hall

•Senior Citizens Tuesday Club, 10:00 a.m., Senior Center

•Pre-K Interactive Learning Time: “Puzzles, Coloring, Memory & ...

Union High School's January Female Athlete of the Month: Kiara Powell

February 13, 2018

UNION, NJ – Union High School senior Kiara Powell has been selected January’s Female Athlete of the Month, sponsored by Service Professionals.

Powell is a member of the co-ed bowling team.  She is the Union County Individual Girls Champion, achieving first place for Group 4 North 2 Sectional Tournament.  Powell rolled a 267, a high game in that tournament.

What’s ...

Union High School's January Male Athlete of the Month: Kai Legband

UNION, NJ – Union High School senior Kai Legband has been selected January’s Male Athlete of the Month, sponsored by Service Professionals.

Legband is on the boys swim team and is the Union County Champion in 50m and 100m Freestyle.

What’s your favorite part of being a high school athlete?. 

The acknowledgement, recognition, and respect I receive from everyone and ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_4b7012194f4ddf3b76e6_babies_in_the_library

Wed, February 21, 10:30 AM

Union Public Library, Union

Babies in the Library

Education

Carousel_image_261c881ef1971550510c_mini_magick20180219-14604-1h2mihl

Wed, February 21, 3:15 PM

Vauxhall Public Library, Vauxhall

Let's Play Chess Club

Arts & Entertainment

Carousel_image_40e695bc536c39f32de1_mini_magick20180209-84623-12om9xk

Wed, February 21, 4:00 PM

Union Public Library, Union

ShopRite Kids Cuisine

Education Food & Drink

Carousel_image_77d226e3df25dd7a397d_vauxhall_public_library

Wed, February 21, 5:30 PM

Vauxhall Public Library, Union

Career Coach

Business & Finance Education

Reuben A. Montilus Named to the Fall 2017-2018 Dean's List at Western New England University

February 20, 2018

SPRINGFIELD, MA - Reuben Montilus, of Union has been named to the Dean's List at Western New England University for the Fall Semester of 2017. Montilus is working toward a degree in Criminal Justice.

Students are named to the Dean's List for achieving a semester grade point average of 3.30 or higher.

Western New England University is a private, independent, coeducational ...

Twenty-Eight Union Students Named to Seton Hall Dean's List

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - News from Seton Hall University:  

The following Union students have been named to the Fall 2017 Dean's List at Seton Hall University:

Radjanie Antoine

Hamza Ashraf

Jonathan Barcelos

Christopher Arnold Blaza

Meaghan Caulfield

Lauren Colandro

Kevin Cordova

Kristine Demagajes

Lianne Joseph

Monique Krakowski

Austin ...

Kayla Douberley Inducted into the Iota Iota Iota National Honor Society

ELMIRA, NY - Kayla Douberley of Union was one of nine Elmira College students inducted into the Iota Iota Iota (or Triota) National Honor Society for Women's Studies during a ceremony recently held in Cowles Hall, Elmira College.

The induction ceremony recognized students who have excelled academically in gender and women's studies, and fostered feminist scholarship, promoted personal ...

Rahway's Rayford Charged with Distributing Fentanyl-laced Crack Cocaine that Killed 3 Rahway Residents

February 10, 2018

RAHWAY, NJ - George Rayford, 38 of Rahway, has been arrested and charged with distributing crack cocaine that led to the death of three people and sent others to the hospital, it was announced Friday by Union County Prosecutor Michael A. Monahan.

“Considering the high levels of purity found in illegal drugs being sold throughout Union County and New Jersey, as well as the potential ...

24th Annual Hoops to End Homelessness Basketball Classic Raises Much Needed Funds for Elizabeth Coalition to House the Homeless

ELIZABETH, NJ – The 24th Annual Hoops to End Homelessness was another night of exciting basketball when six local teams paired off to compete to benefit the Elizabeth Coalition’s programs, in particular, its Operation Warm Heart Program, a winter shelter program for the chronically homeless.

The event took place Feb. 3 at the Dunn Sports Center on Pearl Street. Two teams of Union ...

Wellness Program for Women offered at Maskers Barn in the Deserted Village of Feltville

February 21, 2018

Union County, NJ – Union County is offering a free yoga, meditation class and emotional wellness event for women titled, “International Women’s Day – The Time is Now,” on Friday evening, March 9, at Maskers Barn in the historic Deserted Village of Feltville. The event is the latest edition in a free series conducted through the Department of Human ...

St. Patrick's Day Dinner Party

St. Patrick's Annual Dinner Party to honor Roselle Park's Policeman & Fireman of the Year.

March 10th, 6:30-10:30, at Church of the Assumption, 113 Chiego Pl., Roselle Park.

Corned Beef & Cabbage dinner. Desserts, Soft Drinks and Coffee. DJ, Bagpipers and Irish Step Dancers. Adults $25, Children under 10 $5 (chicken fingers and fries).

Make checks payable to Church ...

Union County Hosts 2nd Annual LGBTQ Pride Event

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is pleased to announce, the 2018 Family PRIDE CommUNITY Picnic, scheduled for Saturday, June 16, 2018 from 12:00 noon until 5:00 p.m. at Rahway River Park in Rahway. Admission is free to this inclusive celebration of family, equality, diversity and community.

“Standing firmly in support of equality, inclusion and unity, the Freeholder Board is ...

Magnolia Home Remodeling Group of Union Awarded Best Of Houzz 2018

Union, New Jersey – Magnolia Home Remodeling Group of Union has won “Best Of Customer Service” on Houzz®, the leading platform for home remodeling and design. The family owned and operated remodeling company that specializes in both interior and exterior remodeling, was chosen by the more than 40 million monthly unique users that comprise the Houzz community from among ...

Columns

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 ...

AtlantiCast Medical Minute: Atlantic Orthopedic Institute’s Scoliosis and Spinal Deformity Center

On this episode of the AtlantiCast Medical Minute, we’ll take you inside the Atlantic Orthopedic Institute’s Scoliosis and Spinal Deformity Center, with the center’s director, Jason Lowenstein, MD.

Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1M7euCp86-c

AtlantiCast Episode 011

Breaking Atlantic Health System news on this week’s AtlantiCast! Plus, find out why Morristown Medical Center is one of the best hospitals in the nation when it comes to recovering from joint surgery, see the newest center for fighting brain cancer and an Atlantic Health System red-carpet premiere!

 

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, ...

Two Nights by Kathy Reichs

Two Nights by Kathy Reichs (Bantom,2017)

How does a writer of a beloved series like Harry Potter or Temperance Brennan break out of their readers' expectations and try something new? For J.K. Rowlings it was the novels penned under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith; books about a maimed and very flawed private detective with the unlikely name of Cormoran Strike. For Kathy Reichs, it is the ...

'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 ...

What Union is Reading: January 2018

February 13, 2018

It is said that you can tell a lot about a person by what they read but can you tell as much about a community by what they read? Take a look and see what you think.

The top five circulated fiction and non-fiction books at the Union Public Library for January 2018 were:

Adult Fiction

1.     Don't Let Go by Harlan Coben 

2.     End Game ...

Let's Talk Teeth

Let’s TALK about TEETH!

Since February is Children’s dental health month we thought we’d share a few tips on how to make sure your little ones keep their teeth healthy and strong!

The Basics – Brushing two times a day for two minutes is one of the most important ways to keep teeth free of plaque. Brushing after breakfast is recommended because most children’s ...

Millburn Volleyball Coach Arrested on Charges of Sexual Contact with a Minor

February 13, 2018

MIDDLESEX COUNTY, N.J. — Peter Nguyen, Millburn High School's head volleyball coach and a bookkeeper for the Millburn Township Board of Education, was arrested today and charged with one count of sexual contact with a 14-year old female who was a member of the Impact Volleyball Club. Nguyen also faces two second degree counts of endangering the welfare of a ...

Smithereens Bandmates Reunite and Play Show Honoring Scotch Plains Music Legend Pat DiNizio

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Two of the founding members of the Smithereens reunited at New Brunswick's Court Tavern on Saturday, Feb. 3, to pay tribute to the late Pat DiNizio, the band’s lead singer, who died in December.

The concert, titled “Blood & Roses: The Court Tavern Memorial Tribute to Pat DiNizio,” featured 15 of the alternative band’s hits from over the ...

Letters to the Editor

ICUC Dr. Wail Rasheed Reacting to Florida Shooting

February 15, 2018

If we were to count the number of lives lost to violence, crime, mass shootings or terror attacks in the US this past year alone, clearly the sacredness of life has no value to the ruthless perpetrators, for all of them are doing the same thing; taking away a God given right from people, the right to exist.

The diverse religious communities in the US must stand strong in denouncing ...