“It sounds like a war going on over there,” said 13th Street resident Michael Farrar last week. “The noise is unbearable.”
While Farrar is unhappy with the construction noise from the 14th Street Viaduct, Councilman Peter Cunningham, who represents the 5th Ward where the work is taking place, says it’s a sign of positive changes occurring in Hoboken’s formerly industrial northwest section of town.
With construction comes the congestion, noise, questionable odors, and of course, increased traffic – the area with the most concentrated amount of construction is an outlet to the Lincoln Tunnel – all circumstances that residents of the northwest section of the city are familiar with.
Do the ends justify the means? Cunningham thinks so.
“[These projects] all together collectively create a big impact on the area,” said Cunningham. “It’s beneficial to the taxpayers.”
“[These projects] all together collectively create a big impact on the area.” – Fifth Ward Councilman Peter Cunningham
The viaduct construction is a Hudson County effort to update the “structurally deficient and functionally obsolete” bridge, according to the project’s website. The replacement will have a more secure foundation consisting of multi-steel girders. The expected date of completion is November 2013.
Besides being safer, the bridge will be wider with a bigger pedestrian path.
‘Edge’ will open this fall
Adjacent to the viaduct is the Edge Lofts project undertaken by Bijou Properties, which expects to open for occupancy late this fall. The building will be a 35-unit luxury loft rental residence, according to Nancy Holland, director of marketing and management for Bijou Properties.
The building plans call for a retail space and an adjacent gallery space for pop-up shows, exhibits, and other public functions.
On the other side of the lofts is Advance Realty’s Willow14, a planned building to consist of 140 luxury apartments and 22,000 square feet of retail space. According to a spokesperson for the project, the expected completion date is September 2014.
The 1-acre site was formerly home to Hoboken Gas Works, which existed from 1871 to 1946. It was later used as a gas station and automotive repair shop that closed in 2005.
The lot also required environmental remediation. The construction efforts include a “unique” method that allows remediation to take place at the same time as construction of the foundation, a spokesperson said. Currently, construction of the foundation is taking place while the below ground portion of the project is continually excavated. Remediation and foundation are expected to be completed by June 2013.
The city is also attempting to acquire the former Henkel/Cognis chemical plant at 12th and Adams streets to use as park land. The lot may require environmental remediation.
Concerns and complications
Cunningham said that a northwest redevelopment plan drafted roughly 10 years ago called for the creation of more parks, affordable housing, parking facilities, a community pool, and more. But residential complexes and other similar projects began to take shape instead.
“The proposed plan called for all these community amenities,” said Cunningham, later adding, “and then those things did not get done.”
Cunningham said these projects were approved before he became a member of the council in 2007.
Some residents have had issues with noise and odd odors from projects. In December, residents at The Metropolitan, a building at 1300 Clinton St., complained to City Hall about the smell they said was coming from the Willow14 site. Cunningham said that he has been able to speak to project leaders when needed.
“I’d say that everybody has been cooperative,” said Cunningham. “[I] haven’t had issues [with anybody], but you do have to stay on top of them. Generally, I’ve had cooperation.”
Cunningham said that the construction projects move at their own pace and that the city is not obligated to make sure they are efficiently completed. However, in the event of unsafe conditions, the administration can alert the developer and work toward a solution.
“We’ve had a couple of situations [involving] unsafe conditions,” said Cunningham, adding that recently, construction materials encroached upon a sidewalk. “I spoke to them and they have obliged to pull back their materials.”
Cunningham also said that the road closure at Clinton and 14th streets – under the viaduct – has caused drivers to cut through the nearby Rite Aid parking lot.
“At 14th, we were finding a number of cars cutting through the Rite Aid parking lot so were trying to communicate [to drivers] the risk associated to that,” said Cunningham., who sends e-mails to constituents in his ward regarding such ongoing issues.
“What I’ve been doing is just trying to ensure that the voices of the residents are heard,” he continued. “We’re doing everything we can to [ensure] a safe place to navigate and hope that they try to get their project done within the desirable timeframe.”
Cunningham held a community meeting for local residents at Carpe Diem Pub & Restaurant in January and has another tentatively scheduled for July 12 at 6:30 p.m. in the same location.
For more information or to receive updates on the construction efforts, contact Councilman Cunningham at email@example.com.
Stephen LaMarca may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.