‘Hoboken Hilton’ builders sweeten the pot

Developer of 20-story hotel expected to give $5M for pool, schools, and former YMCA

Hoboken could see a community pool in the future. Currently the former YMCA facility needs repair.
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Hoboken could see a community pool in the future. Currently the former YMCA facility needs repair.

In the next few years, Hoboken may get a pool, an uptown branch of the public library, and more pre-k classes all due to a new redevelopment deal the city has struck with KMS Development Partners, which intends to build a Hilton Hotel on the lower waterfront.

The City Council was expected to vote to approve the new redevelopment agreement on Wednesday, Oct. 17.

KMS Development Partners intends to build the 20-story, 200,000-square-foot Hilton Hotel on the parking lot of the Post Office at 89 River St. In exchange, the city would get almost $5 million in community givebacks.

Mayor Ravi Bhalla said, “It is my intention that this agreement shall serve as a model for all future deals. I am putting developers on notice: if you want the opportunity to do business in our city, we expect union labor and we expect generous community givebacks.”

The $4.85 million in community givebacks from the developer will include $1.165 million for infrastructure upgrades, $1 million to fund the endowment for Hoboken Public Education Foundation (HPEF) to support the public school system, $485,000 divided evenly by the three charter schools in Hoboken, $200,000 into the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, and $2 million to help revitalize the Hoboken Community Center (the former YMCA building).

The vision for the former YMCA includes re-opening the pool and providing space to expand the district’s pre-K program, which currently has a waitlist. The library, at 500 Park Avenue, would get an uptown branch.

Originally, the givebacks totaled $4 million, with funds going to the HPEF and the Hoboken Community Center and infrastructure, but after several council people and other people talked to the mayor about changes, the amount increased and included the charter schools and affordable housing.

The mayor said that Hoboken residents will receive hiring preference for building the hotel. The process is projected to employ about 170 people, and once operational, the hotel will create an additional 280 jobs in the community and add an estimated $5 million to the local economy per year. The city, county, and school district will also get about $1.8 million in taxes each year.

KMS is a developer who has completed public/private redevelopments projects throughout the country including in Philadelphia, Pa., Arlington, Va., Bethesda, Md. and New Brunswick.

 

“It is my intention that this agreement shall serve as a model for all future deals.” –Mayor Ravi Bhalla

Currently, the property does not pay taxes, as it is a post office which is federal property. The post office will remain on a portion of the property.

As part of the project, the developers will also upgrade and renovate the post office, increase operational efficiencies,  create new well-lit and landscaped sidewalks to access the waterfront, and redesign the traffic patterns on Newark Street and First Street to improve better traffic flow.

Construction could begin by 2019.

The community center

The Hoboken Community Center a local nonprofit is located at 1301 Washington St. in the former YMCA building which closed in 2010.

According to Niall Murray, the treasurer of the HCC, the next step will be to conduct a feasibility study that they hope to complete by the first quarter of next year.

Of the $2 million from KMS Development Partners, $75,000 will become immediately available to fund their feasibility study and launch the project.

The building could include an indoor pool, basketball court, and various athletic facilities including a suspended track, weight rooms, and dance studios. It will also include meeting space and two to three pre-K classrooms.

Ken Nilsen, President of the Hoboken Community Center, said they hope to be able to make it like a “mini 92nd Street Y,” taking after a branch in Manhattan that’s known for its community involvement.

 

Marilyn Baer can be reached at Marilynb@hudsonreporter.com or comment online at hudsonreporter.com