Former Govs and LG Clash Over the Palisades

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LG has started work on its new high-rise headquarters near the Palisades in New Jersey. Christine Todd Whitman, former New Jersey governor and EPA administrator, co-chair of CASEnergy Coalition, a nuclear power advocacy group and president of Whitman Strategy Group, explains why she is against the project, which she says will spoil the natural beauty and view of the Palisades – “sticking up like a thumb in the middle of a green swath.”

Then: John Taylor, vice president of public affairs for LG Electronics USA, defends LG's plans to build its (tall) new US headquarters.

On today’s show, Whitman said she’s sensitive to the need for jobs, but that it’s not a question of whether LG should build its headquarters or not – it’s a matter of how the building is designed. “They [LG] could lay the building on its side and create the same amount of space for its employees,” she said. Whitman worried that if LG builds above the tree line, it will be a slippery slope and lead to more tall buildings near the Palisades. “I can see developers looking at this as a prime area of development,” she said. “And they’d want to go up, so they can have that view.”

Later on the show, Taylor responded to Whitman’s critique of the building. He said the building will be environmentally sound and will “protect the Palisades” and that the building is going to reduce runoff. “We love the Palisades and would never do anything to harm them,” he said. Taylor also pointed out that demolition on the project site is already underway, and that New Jersey needs the jobs this will provide – both in construction and at LG – right away. He said the process has been in the works for seven years and that LG doesn’t have time to change its plans.

“Would it be possible to build it shorter and fatter? Indeed,” he said. “But it will take years to re-design the building, go through all the approval processes again.” And the bottom line? “That frankly will not meet our business needs.”