The Hoboken City Council on Monday night voted to widen the area of the Northwest Redevelopment Zone to include an old tow yard on the corner of Seventh and Jackson Streets that could become the site of the city’s next public park.
The measure was part of a larger plan that was proposed by the city and the developer that owns the property to capitalize on one of the last remaining undeveloped areas in the neighborhood. Under the plan, local green developer Larry Bijou would donate the former Pino towing site to the city in return for development rights to the adjacent lot, which is next to the Monroe Center for the Arts.
The council also unanimously approved sending the plan to the Planning Board. If the board approves it, the plan willl come back to the City Council, acting as the city’s redevelopment agency, for final approval.
“As long as I can remember that corner has always just been the old tow yard.” – Councilman Michael Russo
Bijou has offered to cover the costs of vetting the feasibility of his proposal, including a financial, environmental, and planning analysis, according to the city.
The politics that had become a mainstay of City Council meetings prior to the mayoral election earlier this month were notably absent from the second consecutive meeting on Monday, with 3rd Ward Councilman Michael Russo, typically a strong critic of Zimmer, expressing support for the project.
“As long as I can remember, that corner has always just been the old tow yard, and it’d be great if we could do something positive with it,” he said.
When the plan was introduced in March, Zimmer praised it as an effective compromise between the city and a developer willing to work on behalf of residents rather than exclusively his own interests.
“We have a historic opportunity to preserve one of the last undeveloped parts of Hoboken as open space,” she said. “This new park near the Jubilee Center, Monroe Center for the Arts, and a growing residential neighborhood, would bring much-needed open space to Western Hoboken. I thank Larry Bijou for making this proposal that would transform unused land into a community open space that will benefit the neighborhood and Hoboken for years to come.”
The planning process for park, like its Southwest counterpart, will include a community meeting.
Trying to tackle rent control
Two weeks after tenant advocates spearheaded the defeat of a ballot measure to alter Hoboken’s rent control laws, Council President Peter Cunningham ordered the creation of an ad-hoc council sub-committee tasked with investigating ways to reform the laws in a manner fair to both parties.
The committee will be chaired by Council Vice President Jen Giattino and will consist of Russo and Councilman-at-Large Ravi Bhalla.
A similar council committee met for two years and gave rise to the council’s 2009 unanimous passage of Z-88, which addressed some technicalities of the law.
Bhalla cited the measure as an example of how the usually-divide council can work together on the issue.
Dean DeChiaro may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org