More than 60 people met at the Wallace Elementary School cafeteria on Thursday, March 14, to discuss how to develop northwestern Hoboken.
The North End Redevelopment area is approximately 30 acres or 19 blocks. It encompasses 14th Street to the south, the Palisades Cliff and the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail track to the west, 17th street to the north, and Park Avenue to the east.
The city council at its Feb. 18, 2009 meeting authorized the Planning Board to conduct a preliminary investigation of the area. In December 2013 the council, after receiving the board’s recommendation, declared the North End an Area in Need of Rehabilitation. In March of 2017, the public process began with an online survey.
At the recent meeting, the city’s consultants at WRT Design presented three plans to residents before they broke up into smaller workshops to provide input.
Some possibilities included pedestrian plazas, mixed-use developments, indoor community recreation space, and additional light rail stops.
“This is an exciting opportunity to have a blank slate and to create a city within the city, a neighborhood within a neighborhood,” said Mayor Ravi Bhalla. “It’s our opportunity to revitalize a former industrial area of the city and to advance our interests as a city based on what the community’s priorities are, whether it is school infrastructure, managing urban growth, or providing more retail commercial uses, or increase traffic mobility in and out of Hoboken.”
Currently, the land is zoned for industrial use. Some new restaurants and residences which were approved by the zoning board have gone up on blocks near the 14th Street Viaduct.
If the redevelopment plan is approved, it will determine the zoning for the area and make it easier for certain types of projects to be built without the added step of obtaining a variance from the zoning board.
The area also includes the North Hudson Sewerage treatment facility, PSE&G, Academy Bus parking, the Pilsner Haus & Biergarten, Carpe Diem restaurant, and Gravity Vault rock climbing, to name a few.
What could it be?
The three concepts are called Status Quo, Transit Oriented Development, and NoHo Innovation Campus.
According to Senior Associate at WRT Design Yogesh Saoji, the Status Quo concept was based on a land use theme. Buildings would be between two and five stories on average, and the area would not see too much development or as many amenities. There is no additional light rail station.
In the Transit Oriented Development concept, light rail stations were envisioned on 15th Street and 17th Street. Building height would be between two and 12 stories. Because of the additional transportation options and building height, Saoji said the area would probably get better office tenants which would help revitalize the economy during the day. It also includes a Clinton Avenue promenade near the light rail station and green space near the 15th Street station.
In the NoHo Innovation Campus concept buildings would be two to 15 stories tall, a 15th Street station is envisioned as are areas of green open space near the station and for the length of 15th Street. It would be a destination campus for big office tenants.
All concepts include residential buildings, office flex buildings, mixed-use residential, and office buildings as well as space for incubators, retail, entertainment, light manufacturing, and indoor sports. Where the plans vary is in how much of each is provided and where.
Saoji said the designers are able to work with only about four blocks of the designated area which are currently underdeveloped; they don’t envision PSE&G, NHSA, or Academy Bus moving in the future.
Residents weigh in
Most attendees were concerned with traffic and parking and wanted public amenities including boutiques and restaurants.
“It should be an area where you can live, work, and play,” said one Hoboken resident, adding that the area needs to be a vibrant active street life in the day and at night which would make the neighborhood feel safer.
The majority said they wanted mixed-use space with both commercial and residential properties.
Some residents said it could be a destination for innovation hubs that could feature green living with urban farming, farm-to-table cuisine, and technology companies.
Several people said they wanted 15th Street to become the neighborhood’s main boulevard, with shops and restaurants much like Washington Street.
The majority of residents wanted an additional light rail station but were concerned whether NJ Transit would provide funds. Others suggested that it might be possible through a public-private partnership with one of the area developers.
Several residents mentioned the need for additional public school facilities as enrollment, particularly in the lower grades, has increased.
According to Saoji there will be a public meeting in April or May in which a preferred plan would be presented based on the team’s analysis and input from the community.
In June a final draft would be presented at a public hearing; the city council would vote on whether or not to adopt the plan.
For more information on the North End Redevelopment area go to www.northendredev-cityofhoboken.opendata.arcgis.com/.