In 1981, Arthur E. Imperatore, Sr., through Romulus Development Corp. acquired 342 vacant acres at the Weehawken and West New York waterfronts from the Penn Central Railroad. In 1984, Romulus purchased another 17 acres at the Weehawken, West New York and Guttenberg waterfronts from Consolidated Rail Corp.
Today, Imperatore claims that NY Waterway is being evicted from Weehawken where it has refueled and maintained its ferry fleet for ten years at the 26-acre site known as Port Imperial Marina. This waterfront parcel is mostly over the water, in the Hudson River, and the repairs and refueling take place on several piers. Easements were granted for the ferry company to use several adjacent upland parcels to provide full access to the site.
In March of 2018, an agent for NY Waterway forwarded an “eviction notice” to Governor Murphy’s chief counsel. The letter was neither signed and nor on letterhead, and was delivered by Brendan Gill of the BGill Group, hired by NY Waterway after Gill successfully managed Murphy’s campaign for governor.
What Gill and other NY Waterway lobbyists failed to divulge, however, is that the Port Imperial Marina property – block 45.01 lot 3.01 — is owned by Romulus Development Corp. The owner of Romulus and NY Waterway is one in the same — Arthur E. Imperatore, Sr. Obviously, Lennar, the developer of upland parcels, had no authority to evict NY Waterway from property owned by Mr. Imperatore.
Prior to this year, NY Waterway also failed to divulge to state officials information contained in a “Marina Agreement” signed on April of 2016 that provided the option for the ferry company to keep its refueling/maintenance operation in Weehawken at the Port Imperial Marina site if it was not able to relocate. The agreement also included a plan for a “New Facility” designed by NY Waterway’s engineering firm, Bowman Consulting, to be located at the Port Imperial Marina site owned by Imperatore.
This April 2016 agreement was signed by entities owned entirely or in part by Mr. Imperatore. He is sole owner of Port Imperial Ferry Company, Port Imperial Corp. and Romulus Development Corp. He owns Port Imperial South L.L.C. jointly with Roseland Development. Port Imperial Marina, L.L.C. is owned by Port Imperial South L.L.C.
The agreement contains exhibits — block and lot maps — showing the “work dock easement area” and “fuel dock easement area.” The agreement and these easements gave NY Waterway rights of ingress and egress over properties adjacent to the Port Imperial Marina site.
In 2009, NJ Transit conducted an exhaustive study entitled Ferry Berthing and Maintenance Facility – Alternative Site Analysis. The study identified five sites along New Jersey’s Hudson River coastline that were deemed more suitable for a maintenance facility than the Union Dry Dock site. The Hoboken Train/Ferry Terminal, owned by NJ Transit, was determined to be the optimal location. The two Weehawken locations — the Port Imperial Ferry Terminal and the Port Imperial Marina — were ranked two and three respectively.
In November 2017, Hoboken’s mayor and its residents were stunned when news broke that NY Waterway had purchased the Union Dry Dock site and that NJ Transit would then buy it and lease it back to the ferry company for refueling and maintenance of it’s ferry fleet. Neither NY Waterway nor NJ Transit had consulted or previously informed local officials that these transactions were in the works. The City of Hoboken fought back and by March of 2018 had passed an ordinance to take the site through eminent domain.
The following month, NJ Transit again threatened to acquire the site. But a truce was reached between Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla and Gov. Murphy. Transit would back down on the acquisition and the City of Hoboken would rescind its eminent domain ordinance. Yet, talks between the governor’s office and Hoboken officials, and public protests and debate over the past year have not brought about any resolution.
In 1988, Imperatore obtained a $50 million mortgage from Crossland Federal Savings Bank. When his grand plans to develop the site faltered, he failed to make payments and the bank threatened to foreclose. Imperatore then partnered with Roseland Development to stave off the bank creating various entities such as Roseland/Port Imperial Partners and Port Imperial South, L.L.C. as owners of the property.