The Hoboken City council moved ahead on a plan for a Hilton Hotel along the city’s southern waterfront after nearly three hours of discussion and public comments at a meeting last Wednesday, Oct. 17.
The hotel was approved by an 8-1 vote; Councilman Jim Doyle voted against the plan due to the buildings bulk and height.
The hotel will be approximately 200,000 square feet and include 20 occupied floors for a total of 350 rooms.
It will have ground-floor retail, a second-floor restaurant and bar, meeting and banquet space for 250 people, a rooftop bar and terrace which residents can access 300 days a year, and underground storm water detention of more than 8,000 gallons.
The hotel will be created on the existing parking lot and loading area of the Frank Sinatra Post Office on First and River Streets.
As part of the approved plan the hotel developers, KMS Development Partners, will also renovate the existing post office as well as a pocket park on River Street between the post office and the northern neighboring property.
The developers will also provide 4.85 million in community givebacks. This includes $1.165 million for infrastructure upgrades, $1 million to fund the endowment for the 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 hotel will be constructed and operated by union labor.
“I am thrilled our agreement with the hotel developer was approved tonight by the council,” said Mayor Ravi Bhalla in a statement. “This deal is a big win for the city of Hoboken and delivers unprecedented givebacks to Hoboken with investments in a new community center at the former YMCA, all of our public schools, infrastructure and affordable housing, in addition to a world class hotel.”
While the majority of public speakers were in favor of the hotel, a few were not in favor of its height and bulk.
Former councilman Dave Mello brought his daughter’s building blocks to demonstrate the new plan’s height and bulk compared to the old plan.
“This isn’t a giveback,” said Mello. “We sold 20 percent more bulk for 4.8 million dollars in taxable donations.”
Resident Mary Ondrejka said she was concerned with the impact the hotel would have on the city’s infrastructure and traffic because the city suffers from water main breaks and southwest traffic in the area.
Several members of the council said they supported the present plan but didn’t support the way the administration handled the negotiations, some noting that the council subcommittee on the project was only brought into the discussion less than two weeks before the announcement. Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher said that in the past, subcommittees on redevelopments worked more collaboratively with the mayor during the negotiation process.
The council will now need to pass the resolution on second reading during its next meeting on Nov. 7.
Bullying Prevention Month
Also at the meeting, the Hoboken City Council designated October as bullying prevention month in Hoboken, which was nationally recognized in 2010.
The proclamations states that “in far too many instances, bullying has led to the tragic suicides of children and teens with recent studies estimating that victims of bullying are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider taking their own lives than non-victims.” The council presented proclamations to local groups and individuals for their work as anti-bullying advocates.
The council recognized Sheillah Dallara of the Hoboken Special Needs Parent Group and Dena Russell, who originally founded the group. They also recognized Hoboken filmmaker and producer Frank Gigante, who has created anti-bullying documentaries.