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Downtown Development Plan to be Introduced to City Council

The NJ Transit

The Zimmer Administration is planning to introduce a new plan for the downtown, 52-acre New Jersey Transit property that involves a mix of residential and commercial buildings, city officials said on Tuesday afternoon during a briefing to local press. 

The plan, which is called the Hoboken Yard Redevelopment Plan, also includes a "revitalized" Hoboken Terminal and a new public market. Community Development Director Brandy Forbes will present the plan to the Hoboken City Council on Wednesday night. 

Mayor Dawn Zimmer called the plan "economically feasable." This plan, Zimmer continued, is in accordance with the city's master plan.

This newest plan is a far cry from the first proposal, which stems from 2008. That plan included residential towers up to 50 stories high and commercial towers up to 70 stories high. The Hoboken Yard Redevelopment Plan limits the height of residential buildings at 12 stories and the height of commercial buildings at 19 stories. 

"We need to find that consensus," Zimmer said, "and we need a plan passed to protect us from overdevelopment."

In June of this year, NJ Transit developed its own plan for the site. While the city and NJ Transit are close to an agreement on the amount of commercial space, they differ on how tall the residential buildings should be. 

While the city wants to limit residential buildings at 12 stories, NJ Transit has proposed buildings as high as 26 stories. 

"That would be the highest residential building (in Hoboken)," said Fourth Ward Councilman David Mello. "It would really change the character of Hoboken."

Currently, the W Hotel is the tallest building in Hoboken. 

By passing the a plan—which will still have to go in front of Hoboken's planning board after a workshop is held next week—the city would establish new zoning regulations for the area. 

"We have what could be a win-win for everybody," Zimmer said. 

New Jersey Transit, the state organization that owns the property, doesn't fully agree with that. Representatives from NJ Transit were expected to make a presentation at Wednesday night's council meeting as well. 

NJ Transit prefers a plan with a higher residential density. 

In the city's latest plan—which was completed by firm Wallace, Roberts and Todd—the residential population of the area would be 950, an almost 2 percent increase from the existing population. NJ Transit's June plan, showed a 2,100 person population, a more than 4 percent increase from the existing population. (neither compare to the 2008 plan, which included residential population of 7,300, amounting to a 14 percent increase in population.)

The new plan would also include a performing arts center. 

Zimmer said she is looking for a balanced development and hopes that NJ Transit will agree with the city. 

"We are not saying 'no, no, no' to development," Zimmer said. But, she added, "we don't want our town to be completely overdeveloped."

QJ201 September 05, 2012 at 11:48 AM
Don't let Newport happen to Hoboken! Newport is probably a great example of poor urban planning...just throw up buildings haphazardly...
Hobbs September 05, 2012 at 02:18 PM
Correction. David Mello is a Councilman at Large and represents ALL of Hoboken not just the 4th Ward where he and his family live. This plan puts a clear and realistic vision of what Hoboken would like to see built on the negotiation table with NJT.
Hobbs September 05, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Claire, Thank you for correcting your post. :-)
HobokenReformer September 05, 2012 at 04:54 PM
FZ, have you ever tried to exit/enter Hoboken via Observer Highway during rush hour? This area is already utterly clogged now, just think what would happen with 8 more 40-story condo buildings (with thousands of additional cars) along Observer Highway (which is what the original plan by NJ Transit called for if memory serves me right)! You got to be out of your mind to think that this scenario is desirable to the current residents of Hoboken!
FranzZimmer September 05, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Mouthpieces just never work. I applaud Dawn for her attempt to use these people to do her talking, Ian Sacs has posted on here in the past by never the mayor, probably too busy getting made over all over town I guess. With buildings comes new entry points, new infrastructures etc. Rockefeller has offered to put in new everything, they would build another tunnel if they wanted to. Dawn said no. She knows NJ Transit and Rockefeller will build whatever it takes to make it work as part of their plans. Good luck Frank if you win, get that bozo Zimmer out of town.
Indiecom September 05, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Neither is a good plan for Hoboken - how many 19 story buildings are we talking about? How many 12 story buildings? Also, how many residential units translates into a population increase of 950? Surely the author (or anyone else isn't suggesting that 950 additional units translates into a population increase of 950 ppl. 950 units would probably translate into a 5%-6% increase in the overall population depending on how many people live in each of the units. Let's not try to spin this with "what a great plan" the city's consultants came up with - a wall of 19 & 12 story buildings is not reasonable for Hoboken. The powers in Trenton are not on our side. They want big development and that's that and there is nothing our elected officials can do about it except 'play ball.'
Hoboken Answer September 05, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Don't feed the Beth Mason political operatives. That includes FinBoy the stink breath from Weehawken.
Hoboken Answer September 05, 2012 at 07:03 PM
Don't listen to the anyone but mayor garbage from Beth Mason political operative trolls. Sad, pathetic and that's how they roll.
Hobbs September 05, 2012 at 07:17 PM
It is unreasonable to think the NJT's fifty plus acres of property will either not be built upon or that low buildings will be built. Many of the buildings on the north side of Observer are at the 12 story height already. What is resonable is to bring to the table is a realistic plan that fullfills some of the wants and needs of both parties.
Ojo Rojo September 05, 2012 at 07:25 PM
This plan is a horrible plan and I still fail to see why NJT needs to build anything. It is a transit agency. We should not have to deal w/ even the slightest inconvenience or burden so they can make a profit playing developer.
Ojo Rojo September 05, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Nobody builds anything for free. If we wanted a tunnel, they'd want an 80 story building. Better to give them nothing and let them build nothing.
PeoplePlease September 05, 2012 at 07:28 PM
What about a water park????
Ojo Rojo September 05, 2012 at 07:33 PM
If you thought rush hour was bad now, wait until dozens of trucks loaded w/ materials start showing up and double parking down there, hundreds of construction workers show up and once those buildings are done, thousands of workers and residents start driving around down there at rush hour. That area will be a complete nightmare.
CaptJackd September 05, 2012 at 08:49 PM
There is plenty of history, architecture, character, etc. worth preserving in Hoboken.. but Hoboken's legacy of industry, innovation, technology, and transportation does not necessarily mesh with a plan that unnecessarily tries to preserve or extend an idealistic city 'character.' I would like to see an innovative Hoboken emerge over time (and especially via the NJT redevelopment plan), but I am not seeing signs of that yet. The 'vision' seems to be mostly directed backwards to what should be preserved vs. future urban design and accommodation/invitation of economic growth. The robotic parking garage is a lost island of innovation in Hoboken. Looking forward to seeing the latest NJT proposals, and hoping for more exciting features than a protected bicycle lane-to-nowhere. That parcel of land has the potential to become the site of one of the greatest development projects in NJ. (And NJ/NJT should be funding enhancements to Observer within the scope of that project.)
FranzZimmer September 05, 2012 at 09:09 PM
Trenton not on our side said another commenter, exactly.
Indiecom September 05, 2012 at 10:18 PM
Hobbs, it's only unrealistic to suggest that only low rise, if anything should be built on the NJ Transit site because a) the powers that be in Trenton want large scale development in this city and b) citizens are willing to accept that paradigm (although there probably is no other choice.) The 12 story buildings already represent an upzoning of Hoboken and have no relation to that 'historic charm' that everyone talks about all the time. I for one will not applaud a wall of 12-19 stories buildings as a good thing. At best, it shows how monied interests in Trenton can and will bully the city of Hoboken into absorbing something that is harmful. No winners, no heroes - just a sad day for Hoboken...period.
Hobbs September 05, 2012 at 11:36 PM
Preserving the character and scale of Hoboken and innovation are not mutually exclusive and I think comming up with a plan that does both should be everyones goal.
Hobbs September 06, 2012 at 12:15 AM
Indiecom, I don't think developing the NJT site is bad for Hoboken if it is done well. Jersey City has already decided that building super high rise is the way they want to go and will most likely continue to do that right up to the border of Hoboken. NJT owns property on the Jersey City side of the tracks too. What this plan puts forward is a realistic plan to start negotiations that tries to maximizes the positives and minimize the negatives of what will be a massive project and at the end of the day that is a win for Hoboken. Will NJT try to leverage their politcal connections in Trenton ? Sure, but that is the world we live in and to expect anything different is unrealistic.
I am Spartacus September 06, 2012 at 12:55 AM
It will not be done well for a few reasons. 1. the only way it is economically feasible is if they build large buildings far taller than what is already down in that area 2. NJT wants to make a profit, a large profit that will be used to shore up their pension plan 3. Every politically connected hack at the state, local level and county will demand a taste 4, As you already have pointed out, they plan on building real big tall ugly buildings right up to the city border which is not what someone looking to work w/ the city of Hoboken would do
Journey September 06, 2012 at 03:14 AM
One of the reasons I bought in Hoboken is because it is not downtown Jersey City. I like Hoboken 100% more than Jersey City, because of the tall buildings.
CaptJackd September 06, 2012 at 11:08 AM
Do you find this statement from the city's Master Plan to be ironic? "Hoboken's historic character is one of the City's selling points, but it is eroding as landmarks such as the Maxwell House factory are lost." i miss the smell of roasting coffee in the morning, but i think a small dose of economic reality may be in order.
Hobbs September 06, 2012 at 01:03 PM
I am more optimistic. NJT presented thier plan last night and it most likely intentionally made too tall and too dense to give them some negotiating room, however it is a far cry from what they originally wanted to build. I think they now understand that they do not have the legal right to build whatever they want and must work with a much more demanding Hoboken. NJT will use all of it's political influence to their advantage but that is to expected. Taller buildings don't need to be ugly. One of the things Hoboken should be stipulating is a higher standard of design for all the buildings . Better design would also be beneficial to NJT looking to market their properties. Hoboken can only try regulate what is built in Hoboken and if as expected the skyscrapers will be built on our Jersey City border this plan will also serve as a transition between the two cities.
Gardiner4Freeholder September 06, 2012 at 02:14 PM
Indie is certainly entitled to her opinion of no development but it is that realistic. The version the Mayor is offering is at least in scale with Hoboken. However I feel the skepticism from I am Spartacus is valid in that Nj Transit's profit motive and developer greed as well as political hack at the trough make Zimmer's vision suspect to attack. Watch the developer dollars from everywhere in NJ come to the aid of whichever old guard candidate is selected to run against her in 2013. There is too much money at stake.
Hobbs September 06, 2012 at 03:08 PM
I don't disagree and as we have seen in the past many of the OLD GUARD politicos are more than willing to put their own self interests ahead of the best interest of Hoboken.
cassandra September 06, 2012 at 03:20 PM
Zimmer needs to fight any development. Hoboken is overcrowded now. Don't add more buildings. How about eminent domain for a park by the railroad? Fat chance! All the politicians care is about themselves and their wallets. Throw them all out- old guard- new guard. no difference!
Jay Rattigan September 06, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Can someone comment on the Observer Highway redesign. Was this addressed last night? Do you think it will alleviate current congestion and future increased congestion as a result of this development plan? Thanks.
CaptJackd September 06, 2012 at 07:04 PM
The Observer redesign should include a well-marked, designated travel lane that leads to a capacious PARKING GARAGE in the NJT plan, with jitney service--that would make the project traffic-flow positive for Hoboken by intercepting inbound vehicles.
puzzledone September 06, 2012 at 07:14 PM
while I don't disagree with trying to cut this off at the pass, if they are able to contemplate between 2 million and 3 million square feet of space with both residential and commercial zoning in place, then the value of the parcel is far too high to get under eminent domain, given an annual budget of $100 million a year. Maybe if we had NYC's budget, we could consider a buyout. First and foremost, however, we should make sure that any construction on this site is brought online with a full tax bill from day 1, or well contracted givebacks to the city with an escrow held before they can get a CO. This is not the space for PILOTs.
Ojo Rojo September 06, 2012 at 07:14 PM
I believe w/ no bonding for engineering studies, there will be no Observer Highway redesign or any grant money to pay for that redesign. That happened the meeting before. Thank the minority for that one.
Eric Kurta September 06, 2012 at 08:15 PM
I don't see the Observer redesign alleviating traffic congestion, and I don't think it's meant to. As I see it, its purpose is to make that corridor more pedestrian and bike friendly. What will improve traffic flow is a traffic circle where Newark and Observer intersect (between the firehouse and gas station) and a bypass road that routes Paterson Plank Road away from and behind Hoboken, greatly lessening the cut-through traffic.

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