‘One step closer’ to waterfront park

Hoboken council approved Monarch settlement, temporarily halting waterfront construction ,

The Hoboken City Council approved a settlement agreement with the developers of the Monarch site along the waterfront near the Hudson Tea Building.
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The Hoboken City Council approved a settlement agreement with the developers of the Monarch site along the waterfront near the Hudson Tea Building.

Months of negotiations are expected now that the Hoboken City Council has passed a resolution 7-0 allowing Mayor Ravi Bhalla to enter into a settlement agreement with the developers of the embattled Monarch site, where two 11-story residential buildings were to be erected along the northern waterfront.

The settlement would mean that the developer, Applied Development Company, now known as Ironstate Development Company, would give up the right to develop on the Monarch site in exchange for redeveloping the Public Works Garage at 256 Observer Hwy., pending approval of a Redevelopment Agreement.

This development would include a state-of-the-art facility for the Department of Public Works; 4,000 square feet of retail space along Observer Highway; 264,000 square feet of rental apartments in a transit-oriented building in scale with the neighboring buildings with zero density above what is provided for in the Municipal Garage Redevelopment Plan, and at least 11 percent of all housing units would be affordable housing.

Once the redevelopment agreement is approved, the city would take ownership of the Monarch site for public open space.

Applied Development Company would pay the city up to $1 million for the removal of debris or other public improvements related to the settlement.

The settlement allows the city to negotiate the terms of a Redevelopment Agreement over the next several months, which will be presented to the city council for a vote in the future.

The transfer of the Monarch site to the city for the purposes of open space will occur only if the Redevelopment Agreement is agreed to and approved by the city council at a later date.

Not enough money

Some residents said they approve of the Monarch settlement with the developer, saying it would not only help complete Hoboken’s linear waterfront park and walkway but also save the city litigation fees.

Others said that the city shouldn’t settle because the developer is allocating only $1 million toward cleanup and remediation of the property.

Ron Hine, of the waterfront advocacy group Fund for a Better Waterfront, said that the city needed to negotiate for more funds from the developers as part of the land swap.

He said FBW hired its own experts to determine the cost of remediating the site and reconstructing the current dilapidated pier. The estimate was roughly $20 million.

Instead, Hine suggested that the city use only a third of the property, the part that is on land, to create the waterfront park, which he estimated would cost only $7 million.

Resident Cheryl Fallick suggested that 15 percent of the residential units that would be built on the DPW site should be affordable housing instead of 11 percent citing an ordinance introduced by Councilwoman Vanessa Falco months earlier which would require all large developments to have 15 percent affordable housing.

Falco said that ordinance was pulled after not gaining enough council support.

Council President Jen Giattino asked if the council would be able to amend the settlement to include 15 percent affordable housing, but Joe Maorziti, the attorney representing the city in the settlement, said that would have a “reverberating effect” as both parties had not agreed to it.

‘A win-win’

After the council meeting, Mayor Ravi Bhalla thanked the public in a statement for speaking in favor of the settlement, saying, “Hoboken is one critical step closer to preserving the Monarch site.”

CEO of Ironstate Development Company Michael Barry said it has worked cooperatively with Mayor Bhalla to come up with an agreement that makes sense for everyone, noting that it is optimistic the approved settlement “is the win-win scenario we have all be looking for.”

“This is a detailed agreement that still requires a lot of work by a number of municipal departments to implement, and we all recognize that the ongoing litigation on this matter will continue during that time period, but we are encouraged that there is now a potential path to a resolution of this issue,” Barry said.

On Jan. 7, the state Appellate Court ruled that the city did not have the authority to enforce its 2013 zoning ordinances which prohibit construction on waterfront piers except for low-rise recreational buildings.

The decision cleared the way for the developers to build on the site. The city appealed the ruling unsuccessfully.

In June, the state Supreme Court granted Hoboken’s request to review the denial by the Appellate Division of the city’s appeal.

That case is ongoing.

For updates on this and other stories keep checking www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Marilyn Baer can be reached at Marilynb@hudsonreporter.com.