Bad blood’s been running between the Medical Center and AvalonBay at least since May 25, 2012, when the hospital filed a Civil Action suit against AvalonBay (Mercer County Superior Court docket #MER-L-1299). The hospital charged AvalonBay with being “in breach of the Contract” (par. 35); the developer claimed “the Plaintiffs were in default of the contract” (par. 36; text available from Daniel A Harris, email@example.com).
Of great interest: the Civil Action, citing the contract, states that the contract expires on December 31, 2012. The contract, contingent on Planning Board approval, was signed on July 28, 2011—eighteen months ago. The Hospital’s representative Pam Hersh said recently, “the Hospital hasn’t gotten a dime” (Chestnut St. Firehouse, October 7). In those months, Mr. Ron Ladell, Senior Vice President for AvalonBay, tried to get a density bonus that would have had less than the 20% affordable housing units than Borough Code and the enlightened 2006 Master Plan require; the Hospital, to its discredit, acquiesced in this move. Sure, he’s in the money game---but he’s made enemies, including Princeton Citizens for Sustainable Neighborhoods, which applauds the 20% affordable housing stipulation.
Among the disputed issues?—the free-standing garage, soon to be glued to the new monolith if the Planning Board votes against Princeton’s best interests by approving Avalon’s dangerous application to build a gated “private Community” that violates Borough Code. AvalonBay, arguing that the Hospital had exaggerated the number of parking spaces, wanted a reduced purchase price; they also wanted to charge a “gate fee” for Medical Arts Buildings users (par. 27). (The minor site plan for the garage is the subject of the Planning Board hearing on November 15; please come.)
If the hospital had chosen a less bullying and cantankerous buyer who agreed to honor the Master Plan and Borough Code, the contract would already be finalized after Planning Board approvals, and we’d be further down the road to 56 affordable housing units and the rentals Princeton really needs.
Instead, Mr. Ladell has wasted people’s time—missed deadlines, incomplete application forms, environmental reports with misrepresented information, garbled site plan sheets that have driven the Planning Office nuts, letters promised but never delivered (e.g., the one he promised to SPRAB on October 10 that hasn’t yet materialized). Through all the posturing and nonsense threats related to “inclusionary housing” projects, what were his first words (October 25), at “his,” AvalonBay’s first Planning Board meeting? Looking at the clock, he griped: “We’re now two hours, ten minutes [into the hearing], and I’ve been here since November , and we’re just starting.”
What prompts this flabbergasting abrasiveness? Who should put up with it? Who caused delays?—not the Hospital (which wants its cash from a combative if not unscrupulous buyer), not municipal staff (working overtime to review the myriad technicalities of a complex site plan), not the Planning Board, whom Mr. Ladell wants to push into legal corners.
Let the end-of-year clock set by the Hospital’s contract run down. Let Mr. Ladell take his hassling elsewhere.