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Grapevine: Atlantic makes waves to west, Big Apple's Super snub

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Atlantic makes waves to west
There are rumblings about an expansion of Atlantic Health beyond its interest in St. Clare's, which Grapevine reported in December. The expansion would be "west, not east," according to a source, and Lehigh Valley "has been on the radar." The source was unsure if a western deal would happen.

On a related note, St. Clare's is expected to decide by Feb. 15 on one bidder to "exclusively negotiate" with, regarding a partnership, a tipster said. Grapevine reported in December that at least three health systems expressed interest: Atlantic Health, St. Barnabas and Hackensack. One or two other hospitals or health systems also were interested.

Helping incentives Grow
Grapevine has learned the Economic Development Authority is getting even pickier with Urban Transit Hub applications as the program nears its $1.5 billion cap. The agency has started to give more weight to factors such as project readiness when looking at its application pipeline. That could change if Urban Transit Hub gets a fresh $1 billion through a bill rolled out last week that also would add another $200 million to the fledgling Grow New Jersey program.

Behind the scenes, there is ongoing debate about whether more of those would-be tax credits should be reserved for Grow New Jersey, a program one insider said is "more user-friendly (and) geographically more diverse." The Grow credits have a maximum per-project award of $40 million, while Urban Transit Hub has resulted in awards of as much as $250 million. The insider said the state could make Grow more attractive by putting more money into the program, and by boosting the award for businesses that develop in the state's nine designated transit hubs and other distressed areas.

At its Feb. 14 meeting, the EDA board expects to receive a staff financial analysis of Urban Transit Hub that examines the amount remaining and the existing overall demand. Based on the recent push for another $1 billion in funding, Grapevine is guessing the financial study will show there's not much left in the pot.

Stacking the deck
Brian Stack's support for a competing proposal to take over Christ Hospital influenced Prime Healthcare Service to pull out, according to a source. In a Jersey Journal story published Jan. 27, the Hudson County state senator backed a joint bid by Jersey City Medical Center and Community Healthcare Associates. On Jan. 31, Prime withdrew its offer to acquire Christ Hospital. In a statement at the time, Prime said it was withdrawing "out of respect for the wishes of those in the Hudson County community that Christ Hospital remains as a not-for-profit hospital."

Christ filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last week. An observer said struggling medical centers like Christ Hospital likely will need private equity to survive.

Big Apple's Super snub
Could an international air conditioning and refrigeration expo in the middle of winter keep the lucrative Super Bowl fanfest out of New York in 2014?

The Javits Center, the city's largest event space, already is booked with the New York International Gift Fair and the International Air Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition, Crain's New York recently reported.

Crain's quoted Alfred Kelly saying that the host committee is scouting "a bunch of possibilities on both sides of the Hudson …. It's possible that it's not in New York City."

The Javits cold shoulder could be a gift to New Jersey. Not surprisingly, New Jersey business people think the fanfest should be in the Garden State, ideally near the stadium. "It just makes more sense to have it adjacent to the stadium," said one Garden State business leader. "But people don't always have common sense."

The NFL Experience fanfest typically draws 200,000 people, and New York City isn't ready to give up on it: a tourism official is reportedly scouting alternate sites.

Collection clarification
Grapevine broke the news last week that New Jersey is considering a sales-tax exemption for Amazon.com as the state tries to lure the Internet giant to open a distribution center here. Grapevine incorrectly said California would exempt Amazon from sales tax collection through at least 2014. Actually, as a reader pointed out, Amazon will begin collecting sales tax in September from California residents.

Grapevine reports on the behind-the-scenes buzz in the business community. Contact Editor Sharon Waters at swaters@njbiz.com.

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Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@njbiz.com

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