Hoboken Yards chugging forward?

Redevelopment Plan amendments tabled pending public input

The proposed amendments to the Hoboken Yards Redevelopment Plan would turn nine development sites into three.
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The proposed amendments to the Hoboken Yards Redevelopment Plan would turn nine development sites into three.

Hoboken community members are invited to attend a public meeting on Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. at the multi-service center at 124 Grand St. to discuss proposed amendments to the Hoboken Rail Yards Redevelopment Plan.

The original plan, approved in 2014, dictates how a development just south of Observer Highway could be developed.

The meeting was scheduled after the City Council tabled a final vote on the proposed plan amendments during the Oct. 2 council meeting. After a presentation by the city’s Director of Community Development Chris Brown, several persons called for more public input.

Proposed amendments

The proposed amendments would decrease the overall size of the proposed development by about 1 million square feet. The original plan included buildings on an area which will now have a roughly 12-foot-high flood wall as part of the state’s Rebuild By Design plan, which aims to protect the city from flooding caused by storm surges.

What was to be nine development sites is now four; a roughly 300-foot-tall office building near Hudson Place and Hudson Street; a 330-foot-tall residential building south of Observer Highway between Washington and Bloomfield Streets; and a 145-foot-tall office building south of Observer Highway east of Henderson Street.

The fourth site is the area that now includes the flood wall, which is designated “future potential development.”

According to the amendments, 68 percent of the development area will be offices, about 29 percent will be residential, and 4 percent will be retail. Under the 2014 plan, 67 percent was to be office space, 25 percent was to be residential, and 6 percent was to be retail.

The amendments also reduce the open space requirements from 4.5 acres to 1.45 acres.

NJ Transit owns the property. NJ Transit and Hoboken have designated LCOR the redeveloper for the site.

More input needed

After the presentation, several members of the public voiced frustration at the plan’s lack of transparency and public input. There had been no public meeting on the amendments.

Several residents questioned the impact the new buildings would have on view corridors and traffic in an area that they say is often congested.

Several members of the council echoed these same concerns.

“Given the size and scope of this, was there any thought to do a community meeting to discuss these changes, and what’s driving these changes?” asked Councilman Peter Cunningham.

“The majority of the people in our community are not aware that we’re voting on the most controversial development in the city,” said Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher. “We owe it to them to have a public meeting.”

While the council ultimately tabled the ordinance amending the plan, Councilman Michael Russo voiced concerns that tabling the ordinance would continue to stall a project that had already been put on pause for nearly a decade.

In a statement the following day, Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher reiterated the need for public engagement in the plan.

“The project has changed dramatically since the original approval in 2014 driven by Rebuild By Design that will be built at an angle through the site significantly impairing the redevelopment of over a third of the project area,” she said. “Most of my council colleagues have met with LCOR, the developer of the site, and I personally believe they tried to address issues raised during the prior public process. But the public has not been afforded the same opportunity to ask questions and voice concerns which I believe is necessary for a project of this importance to our community.”

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