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NJ Transit Proposes Downtown Development: 'This Plan Meets Character Test'

The city and New Jersey Transit still differ on the density of the downtown redevelopment plan.

New Jersey Transit representatives presented its vision for Hoboken's downtown redevelopment plan on Wednesday night. 

The proposal followed Community Director Brandy Forbes' presentation of the city's plan,. 

While NJ Transit and the city see eye to eye on much of the plans, there are some key differences, mostly the density of the plan. 

Where as the city proposes 2 million square feet of development, NJ Transit believes that 3 million square feet is feasible. 

"The plan meets the character test," said Executive Director of NJ Transit, Jim Weinstein. "It's not only a huge difference since 2008, we have listened to discussions with the city and the mayor."

Both the city and NJ Transit believe the 52 acre downtown site needs "balanced development." 

A plan proposed by New Jersey Transit in 2008 included 70-story towers and a much higher density. 

NJ Transit's latest proposal was created by development firm LCOR and architects from Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. 

"I think that the number of things similar are far more than what's different (between our plans)," Weinstein said. 

Councilman-at-Large David Mello said that the two proposals shouldn't be seen as "competing plans." 

In the eyes of the city, that means residential buildings shouldn't exceed 12 stories and office buildings shouldn't exceed 19. NJ Transit, on the other hand, is proposing 19 story office buildings and a 27 story residential building on Observer Highway. 

"You have to have a little bit of height to play with," said Kurt Eichler, a executive vice president of LCOR. "There are 16 stories right across the street, we're not breaking new ground here." 

The plan, much like the city's plan, includes improvements to the Hoboken Terminal as well as a streamlining of the downtown traffic congestion. The plan also includes multiple pedestrian only spaces, including Warrington Plaza.

Weinstein said on Wednesday night he is "optimistic we can come to a compromise." 

Once the plan is passed by the city council—the official redevelopment agency of the city—NJ Transit will have to confirm to the city's laws. Before the plan is passed, a workshop will have to be held and the plan will have to come in front of the planning board.

Whether or not NJ Transit would be willing to come back from the 3 million square feet of development and the height of the buildings, "is a discussion that will have to take place," Weinstein said. 

Mayor Dawn Zimmer on Tuesday said that NJ Transit's current plan is not in accordance with the city's master plan. The redevelopment plan, once passed, would serve as a strict zoning guide line for development on the NJ Transit site.

Wednesday night's presentation by NJ Transit was limited to ten minutes. A workshop will be held next week, in which more details from the plan will be presented. 

Hobbs September 06, 2012 at 12:36 PM
While NJT has come a long way from their original skyscrapers their plan is still much to high and dense . Kudos to Mayor Zimmer the City Council and all the residents who stood up and said that the original NJT plans were not acceptable and demanded a plan that was better for Hoboken,
Hobbs September 06, 2012 at 07:52 PM
The adding of new open space in SW Hoboken for all the new residents of this and all the other development will generate becomes even more important.
David A. Liebler September 07, 2012 at 04:49 AM
Whether it is Zimmer's plan or NJ transit's plan is not the question. The question is with an additional 10+ buildings on observer hwy and all the new residents and commuters that will come....how will anyone be able to get in and out of Hoboken in the am or pm rush hours? 20+ minutes min now....200 minutes later .....MAJOR PROBLEM. Before a shovel hits the ground someone needs to prove that Hoboken residents are not grid locked for an hour in morning. Zimmer wants to stop over development? She cut a few stories back...BIG DEAL!!!!! When NJ transit or the port authority want a 10% price increase, they threaten a 40% price increase...the people go crazy and a politician comes in to save the day by getting them to back down to only a 10% increase. Complete shell game for the public to sell what they really wanted in the first place. The same thing is happening now!!! NJ Transit says they want 70 stories. We say NO Way! That's crazy!!! Zimmer gets involved, spends tax payer money on a report. NJ Transit comes back and says ok how about 25.... Zimmer says, that's crazy! I will do my own report and show you. I bet NJ Transit in this environment already realized that there probably is not a market for the HUGE highrises and will be happy with Zimmer's 19 stories, 15 stories and 14 stories plans. I bet NJ Transit is laughing their asses off.
Eric September 09, 2012 at 01:53 PM
David it's money well spent and in the end will be recouped, it's called due diligence, duh. I suppose it's better to just take NJT's word for it? That's a laugh. Regarding traffic, that's why I don't live out in the burbs in spite of the fact that there are a number of great towns but the commute is unacceptable to me. There's little that can be done to alleviate traffic, you can't just magically create super wide highways to accommodate the small minority of people who live in Hoboken and commute by car. Personally I am sick to death of hearing about car issues, it's always presented like everyone owes car owners a debt of gratitude. Take public transportation or move closer to work if your commute is so awful just like most normal, sane people do. Otherwise suck it up and deal with it. This is a densely packed metropolitan area and traffic is never ever going to get better.
Jacob Felson September 17, 2012 at 07:54 PM
I agree with Eric. This is not an area designed for use by automobiles, and that should be considered a virtue. The southern end of Hoboken by the station is in a sorry state. It looks hideous and its a absurdly underused piece of land. If the train yard is hidden under a 30-story tower, this will be wonderful, provided that the building is attractive and pedestrian-friendly. The focus of the community should not be on *how much* is built, but rather on the quality of what is built and the quality of the public spaces. The community should focus on making sure that the plans and the architecture is solid.
Ravi Patel April 18, 2013 at 02:04 PM
have to fix the traffic problem first!!

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