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A real estate investment company owned by the family of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, is suing Jersey City for blocking its attempt to construct a high-rise condominium complex.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey on June 26 by One Journal Square Partners Urban Renewal Corp., owned by the Kushner Cos., alleges that Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop thwarted construction of the project because of politics.

Kushner, who is a senior adviser to Trump, is the former chief executive officer of One Journal Square.

The company is seeking to build two 56-story towers at One Journal Square in Jersey City, which overlooks Manhattan. There also would be 98,000 square feet of retail space, 118,000 square feet of commercial space, and a parking garage, according to the suit.

Fulop, a Democrat, has been and continues to be a vocal opponent of Trump, a Republican, and Kushner.

The plaintiffs’ counsel, Joseph Fiorenzo of Newark’s Sills Cummis & Gross, said in a statement:  “The conduct of the Jersey City officials strikes at the very heart of our economic system which has, as its foundation, the freedom of people to organize their affairs by entering into contracts. This is the glue that holds our economic system together.”

Jersey City officials did not respond to a request for comment, though Fulop is quoted in a Jersey Journal report as calling the suit’s claims “nonsense.”

The lawsuit alleges that the city planning board agreed to real estate tax abatements, common in New Jersey as a means to attract development, but that Fulop later used his position as mayor to block those abatements in order to ingratiate himself with the city’s residents, who overwhelmingly vote for Democratic candidates.

The complaint alleges that the city’s decision to block the construction of the complex is “motivated purely by political animus towards President Trump and constitutes little more than a transparent and illegal attempt to deprive plaintiffs of their property rights.”

The lawsuit says that the company already has spent $55 million on the project,

“The defendants ultimately determined to place politics over principles,” the lawsuit says, also alleging that the city’s actions are “egregious.”

The lawsuit also alleges that Fulop told others that the project could proceed if the Kushner company were no longer involved.

The lawsuit, according to the electronic case record, is assigned U.S. District Judge John Michael Vazquez and U.S. Magistrate Judge James Clark, who sit in Newark.

The suit filed June 26 is not the only litigation relating to the proposed One Journal Square development. Earlier in June, a California-based organization advocating for open government filed a lawsuit against the state of New Jersey, demanding access to what it says are emails between former Gov. Chris Christie and Kushner entities in connection with the project.

The organization, MapLight, based in Berkeley, filed the lawsuit in Mercer County Superior Court, seeking access to alleged emails sent between Christie and members of his administration and Kushner and others from his companies. According to the lawsuit, the emails are in the possession of Christie’s counsel at South Orange’s Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi. The emails, the lawsuit said, have been labeled by Christie as being “privileged” or “confidential.”

Michael Booth

Trenton Bureau Chief New Jersey Law Journal American Lawyer Media mbooth@alm.com Twitter: @mboothnjlj

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