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Grapevine

Grapevine: Good for the views, but bad for business?

Will LG Electronics USA end up getting the controversial, potentially scenic view-killing 143-foot-high headquarters along the Hudson River in Englewood Cliffs that it so desires?

Not if state Sens. Bob Smith (D-Piscataway) and Kip Bateman (R-Somerville) have anything to say about it.

A bill that Smith and Bateman are sponsoring came before the Senate Environment and Energy Committee last week that would restrict any development within the Hudson River Palisades “viewshed” to just 35 feet in height.

The legislation would not just prevent future development in the area that towers above the set mark, but also would retroactively put a halt to any project that hasn't had its foundation completed as of May 1, 2014.

LG's not named in the bill, but can you guess who they're talking about?

As one source puts it, the bill “goes right to the heart of the LG Electronics facility” and could be a troubling step for business in New Jersey in a post-Economic Opportunity Act world.

“It sets a bad precedent,” the source said.

Especially with large international companies, such as LG, that make the decision to come to or stay in New Jersey, a bureaucratic mix of added “stipulations and hurdles” could be a recipe for disaster, the source said.

And as the source also points out with a shade of irony, all LG has to do is take a look across the Hudson to find an area more welcoming to the idea of 134-foot-high buildings.

How a $100M company has little value to Jersey City 

What's a $100 million company coming to your city really worth?

In some cases, just a few feet of office space.

Take, for instance, the announcement that Brillo — a $100 million startup dealing with IT issues — was coming to Jersey City.

The announcement was news to city officials, who tried for days to contact company officials, to no avail. After some investigating, the reason was clear: the company does not appear to be bringing many jobs, as it is renting very little office space near the waterfront.

“What's it mean for Jersey City?” one insider asked. “It means 3,000 more square feet of office space is now leased. That's it, just 3,000 square feet.

“There's a reason we didn't know about this … it wasn't worth knowing about.”

‘Made in America’ bill starting to draw some heat

Last month, a package of bipartisan bills headed up by Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) requiring those receiving state contracts to purchase American manufactured goods for the contracted work successfully made its way through the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.

Dubbed the “Made in America” measures, the package had the mark of an easy-to-get behind bipartisan push. Sweeney called it a “common sense step” that would “help jumpstart the economy.”

Also passing were related bills that specifically spelled out the same requirements for the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission, Delaware River and Bay Authority, Delaware River Port Authority and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

But according to one source, some in Trenton are now “flagging” the bills and that has drawn the attention of those both in New Jersey and across the country.

According to the source, some are taking issue with the fact that, in today's global economy, it's becoming increasingly difficult to point to a project and not find something manufactured overseas.

The bills are a classic case of “feel-good” initiatives pushed through without enough deliberation, the source said.

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