Hoboken planning consultants presented a draft plan for what Hoboken’s northwest portion of town could look like at a public meeting at the Elysian Charter School.
According to the draft, the area could include two light rail stations, open space, a pedestrian plaza, and mixed-used buildings for both retail and residential dwellings.
The draft plan addresses how roughly 30 acres in the city’s northwest area should be developed.
It’s bounded by the 14th Street viaduct to the south, Park Avenue to the east, 17th Street to the north and the Palisades Cliffs to the west. The Hudson Bergen Light Rail line runs along the western and northern edges.
The section was designated as an area in need of rehabilitation by the city in December 2013.
The plan proposes two gateways to the area anchored by two light rail stations, one at 15th Street and Madison Street and one at 17th Street and Clinton Street.
These areas will have green-park and open space. Clinton Street from 17th Street to 14th Street could be turned into a pedestrian promenade closed to vehicles.
Fifteenth Street would act as the city’s main street, like a mini Washington Street with ground-floor commercial businesses and cafes.
The plan includes both residential and commercial mixed-use properties as well as indoor recreational and entertainment spaces near the 15th Street light rail.
These mixed-use properties are envisioned to include office flex space, incubator spaces, a school, hotels, and restaurants.
According to consultant Yogesh Saoji, planners wanted to make sure the area was a place where people could live, work, and play, which was not vacant during the day as are most residential neighborhoods.
The buildings range in height from two to 11 stories with an option to increase them by one to two stories.
The buildings tend to increase in height closer to Park Avenue to be in line with the neighboring residential buildings. The shortest buildings are near the westernmost edge.
Members of the public voiced several concerns at the Sept. 24 meeting, including issues with building height and lack of parking.
Saoji said the idea was for the neighborhood to be transit-oriented, noting that many people would take advantage of the light rail stations. But residents said that people would still use their cars, especially families, and there is no guarantee the light rail stations would be built because they would need to be constructed by NJ Transit.
As for building height, Mayor Ravi Bhalla said it was important for residents to put the plan in perspective. When he was on the council in 2009 the area could have had buildings that were 30 to 40 stories high.
“When I first learned of the North End Redevelopment Plan, what was being proposed at 1600 park, for example, is not what you see now at 10 or 12 stories but a 45 story building,” Bhalla said. “Through a long process of working with the community, we have been able to get that down.”
Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher said it was important for residents of the area to consider the needs of the entire city because space is a premium.
“We have to figure out what’s not just right for the neighborhood but the city as a whole,” she said. “Land is constrained, and there are traffic challenges, and our public schools are bursting at the seams at the lower grade levels …We need to makes sure it is what works for Hoboken.”
According to the city, the planners will take the feedback and revise the plan before it is presented to the city council for a vote in the coming months.