This Tuesday, Hoboken officials are scheduled to host a press conference concerning a proposed Hilton Hotel to be located behind the River Street Post Office, according to the mayor’s Deputy Chief of Staff Jason Freeman.
It’s possible that the proposed hotel may be scaled down from the 24 stories approved by the council in April.
Last spring, the council approved a redevelopment plan for the property, located at 89 River St., a few blocks from the train station. The 87-year-old facility would keep operating as the city’s main post office, but a private developer would buy the land and build a hotel.
Hoboken would get up to $1.7 million in yearly taxes.
KMS Development Partners has said they want to build a Hilton there. They have worked with the United State Postal Service since 1990 to finance and create buildings such as hotels, court houses, and office buildings on underutilized Postal Service property.
According to the redevelopment plan, the hotel can have no more than 170,000 square feet, 24 stories in height, and the total architectural height can reach 290 feet.
Last week, the administration and the council’s Post Office/NJ Transit Ad Hoc Subcommittee – which is dealing with major development projects by government agencies — met with KMS to discuss possible next steps for the project.
Subcommittee Co-Chair Tiffanie Fisher would not elaborate on this week’s announcement but said, “We had a subcommittee meeting with the developer and we were excited to sit with the administration to once again progress the dialogue around the hotel that had been put on hold. We had a great conversation and we are trying to converge on a great outcome for Hoboken.”
According to Dennis Martin a Partner of KMS Development Partners, the meeting was positive and they are confident that the project will be able to move forward, perhaps with a smaller height.
According to Martin, the contract with the post office will expire soon, by the end of the year, and it will be challenging for them to receive an extension from the Postal Service unless they can show “forward movement.”
Martin noted that the federal property currently pays no taxes to Hoboken. The hotel, once completed, will also provide more than 100 permanent jobs.
Martin said the city’s 2010 master plan reexamination cites a hotel as an appropriate use for the area.
The postal service first contracted with KMS in 2012 to upgrade its facilities to make them more efficient and modern, including a new freight elevator and larger loading dock.
In exchange, KMS Development Partners would create a hotel on their existing parking lot.
“Without this project, they wouldn’t be getting these capital improvements,” said Martin who added that upgrades will also include new mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, and an underground postal truck garage.
The redevelopment plan includes some changes in the area. It requires the redesign and reconstruction of Newark Street with wider sidewalks and streetscape features to improve access to the waterfront. It will allow more activity on the block of Sinatra Drive between Newark Street and First Street.
The implementation of the plan would terminate the existing easement with the post office that provides angled parking for post office vehicles along Newark Street, where there currently is no sidewalk.
The hotel would have lease agreements with private parking garages.
“We had a great conversation and we are trying to converge on a great outcome for Hoboken.” –Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher
“We met during the last snowstorm with the city two weeks ago and offered them a lower concept and it seemed to be favorably received,” said Martin. “Basically, if you push down on top to lower it, gets a little wider. We will still have 170,000 square feet whether it’s shorter and wider or taller and thinner, And what we proposed, the shorter option will be about the same height as the neighboring Wiley building.”
Over the past year KMS Development Partners has conducted a required shade study and posted the video on the projects website, hobokenwaterfronthotel.com.
The video was taken from the roof of 111 River St. at three different times of the year: the Summer Solstice, the Fall Equinox on and the Winter Solstice.
“During that April council meeting, the majority of people, I think nine or 10 people spoke, who were in favor of the project,” said Martin. “We have tremendous community support.”
The next step is for KMS Development Partners to be conditionally designated the redevelopers. Once that occurs a specific plan for the project will be negotiated and a redevelopment agreement will be approved by the council.
Martin said they could have shovels in the ground by as early as the end of this year with construction completed in the following 18 months.
Marilyn Baer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.