Developer slaps Poughkeepsie with a lawsuit over waterfront revitalization project

The developer of a waterfront revitalization project has filed a lawsuit against the city of Poughkeepsie over a resolution filed last month that he says breaks a decade-old agreement.

News 12 Staff

Nov 7, 2020, 12:32 AM

Updated 1,289 days ago


The developer of a waterfront revitalization project has filed a lawsuit against the city of Poughkeepsie over a resolution filed last month that he says breaks a decade-old agreement.
Developer Joseph Bonura, Jr., 42, says he's spent almost half of his life on the Poughkeepsie Landing project and it's something he wants to complete.
The project calls for the addition of shops, restaurants and more.
However, the city's Common Council passed a resolution on Oct. 5 that would rescind the project on Nov. 19 unless Bonura reaches a new pilot agreement with the Industrial Development Agency. He must also submit another site plan before the Nov. 19 deadline. All this even though Bonura received approval back in 2009.
The lawsuit calls for the city, its Common Council and the IDA to either overturn the resolution or pay his business the millions already spent on the project.
"The last thing we wanted to do is sue the city of Poughkeepsie," says Bonura. "But in order to protect our multimillion-dollar investment, they left us no choice. There was really nothing else we can do."
City of Poughkeepsie Mayor Robert Rolison tells News 12 in a statement, "The long history of this project on our southern waterfront is important. The Bonura family believed in this city and were willing to invest at a time when few would step forward. Projects such as Shadows on the Hudson and The Grandview catering facility have vastly improved our waterfront – and have brought people, residents and tourists alike, to our shores. They also employ hundreds of workers, and job creation is essential to this city. Unfortunately, decisions made by the IDA and Common Council Leadership have done more to impede the Poughkeepsie Landing project than push it forward. That includes the failure of the Council to meet with Mr. Bonura in any meaningful way over the last few years, the most recent resolution adopted by the IDA on June 13, 2018 that tabled the matter and put everything on hold and, finally, the Council's action last month, rescinding all the prior approvals and killing the project if Bonura didn't act within 45 days. I vetoed that resolution, but regrettably the Council overrode my veto -- jeopardizing our taxpayers by landing us in court. I am still hopeful that this can be settled and a positive outcome reached."
Bonura says he hopes city officials and the IDA will come to the table and work out the problem.
Attorney David Gordon, the special counsel for the city of Poughkeepsie Common Council said in a statement saying, "The Common Council unanimously passed the recent DeLaval resolution to get the project moving again. The property was cleaned and readied for development 7 years ago and hasn’t moved an inch since. The resolution was passed to put this parcel back on the map for the City of Poughkeepsie and its residents. The Council is disappointed but not surprised that Mr. Bonura used the resolution as a vessel to take his complaints to court instead of moving forward as set forth in the resolution. The lawsuit is meritless. The resolution was legal, rational, and fair, and was specifically written to allow Mr. Bonura a full chance to complete his project. The Common Council firmly rejects Mr. Bonura’s view and hopes that he decides to make an application to the IDA. If that is not his intent, the Council would like to know that, too. The city and the community deserve a vibrant and open waterfront to enjoy sooner rather than later."

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