City must protect its historic structures
Nov 10, 2013 | 451 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Dear Editor:

There must be a better way to allow development in Hoboken while ensuring the preservation of, at the very least, the façades of our historic structures, such as the Wonder Bread-Schmalz Bakery buildings, which once filled almost an entire city block from 7th to 8th Streets and Clinton to Grand. The Schmalz Bakery, started in 1865 from German immigrates, played a crucial role during Hoboken’s “Golden Age” (when it was home to three European steamship lines) by supplying baked goods to the Holland-America shipping line. After a disastrous fire in 1909, the building was rebuilt and later housed Wonder Bread until the late 1950s. Now here’s the problem. While the Zoning Board approved a development plan to retain and incorporate the complex’s original façade, and while the variances granted were with the proviso that this original façade be maintained, in June of this year a sizable portion of the complex—including its façade—was completely demolished. There were claims that this façade was structurally unsound; however, there were no structural plans in place to safeguard the façade before renovation began. And now the remainder of the complex is at risk.

Therefore, when it comes to the adaptive re-use of historic buildings, we request that the Zoning Board mandate the inclusion of detailed structural plans that obligate developers to preserve and protect these historic exteriors, especially when variances are granted based on the developer preserving the façade. We ask the City to address this problem now not only for the Wonder Bread-Schmalz complex, but for others like them—because once these historic structures are gone, we can never get them back.

Sylvia Schwartz,
Friends of the Wonder Bread-Schmalz Bakery

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