Although a parking agreement between the city and the new buyer of the Hoboken University Medical Center was approved by the Hoboken city council on Tuesday night, the agreement won't go into effect right away after the minority council voted against a measure that would make "the ordinance immediately effective."
The new parking agreement leases 1,000 transponders to the new owner of the hospital, facilitating parking for hospital employees. The rate per transponder per month for the first three years of the 99-year lease agreement is $45. After that it goes up to $65. The commercial rate for a resident to lease a spot is $185 a month.
New buyer HUMC Holdco was scheduled to close the deal on the hospital on Wednesday.
Members of the council minority and Corporation said that the agreement would have to be effective before the closing of the sale.
"It will not close without it," Tabakin said about the hospital sale. Russo countered that a letter of intent, as well as the approval of the agreement in a 5-4 vote minutes before this discussion on Tuesday night, were enough for the sale to go through.
The parking agreement is the last hurdle before the sale can go through. Last week the state approved the deal, The deal was "carefully negotiated," Parking Director Ian Sacs has said.
Holdco is planning to sell the hospital to an Alabama-based real estate firm Medical Properties Trust, and lease it back. While the minority members of the council said they believe that MPT will one day revert the hospital into condos (and therefore want the much coveted parking spaces), City Attorney Mark Tabakin told the council that Holdco will lease the transponders, not MPT.
"The future of our hospital is in the hands of a developer in Alabama," said Second Ward Councilwoman Beth Mason.
According to the contract, Holdco has to operate HUMC as an acute care facility for at least seven years.
The midtown garage has 730 parking spaces, Sacs said. He said also that no more than 400 hospital employees park in the garage at the same time.
Councilman-at-Large David Mello defended the parking agreement. "What this agreement is doing," he said, "it’s keeping the hospital open." The measure passed in a 5-4 vote, with the four minority council members voting against.
Sacs said that the parking agreement states that as soon as the facility is no longer a hospital, the owner of the entity—and therefore the leaser of the 1,000 transponders—has to pay market rate, per month, per transponder.