Mayor Ravi Bhalla can begin negotiations with LCOR, the designated developer for the Hoboken Yards redevelopment, now that the City Council has unanimously adopted an ordinance approving amendments to the redevelopment plan.
The plan, last adopted in 2014, dictates how a site just south of Observer Highway could be developed
According to the city, the amendments were necessitated by the proposed Rebuild by Design flood protection structure that intrudes on the redevelopment site, and reduces the overall development by approximately 1 million square feet.
Unlike the 2014 version of the redevelopment plan which had nine development sites, the newly amended version has only three, all of which are envisioned as commercial properties.
Site one, near Hudson Street and Hudson Place, would be a commercial office building between 200 and 300 feet tall, depending on a financial feasibility study conducted by professionals contracted by the city.
The square footage depends on the height of the building, ranging from 412,000 square feet at 200 feet tall to 635,000 square feet at 300 feet tall. According to the presentation, the building would preserve the view of the Lackawanna clock tower from the view corridor on Observer Highway.
Site two would be a 330-foot-tall building on Observer Highway between Hudson Street and Garden Street. It was previously envisioned as residential space but is now envisioned as commercial property. According to city planner Jessica Giorgianni, the developer believes the property footprint, which has changed due to the Rebuild by Design resist structure, is unattractive to office tenants.
The city has allowed for the possibility of this site to be residential but only if a financial feasibility study determines a commercial property is not possible.
The study would have to consider creative construction options, including cantilevering over the Rebuild by Design resist structure, as well as assume that Site 1 has a class A commercial tenant.
Should the site be designated residential, the developer will have to provide 20 percent of all units as affordable housing.
Site two would include parking at a ratio of 0.125 spaces per 1,000 square feet, should the building be commercial, and 0.25 spaces per unit should the building be designated as residential.
Site three, on Observer Highway and Marin Boulevard, is considered a potential redevelopment site because it currently consists of the NJ Transit maintenance building, which NJ Transit would have to first relocate for any development to take place.
It will be a commercial building with a maximum height of 145 feet, the same as that stipulated in the 2014 redevelopment plan.
The plan calls for the renovation of the ferry terminal building and Warrington Plaza, which could include an outdoor market space, incubator space, public art space, and museum.
The plan stipulates that as part of the Redevelopment Agreement process, a traffic study and circulation plan will need to consider providing drop-off areas for shuttle buses, ride sharing services, and taxis, in an off street location, such as underneath the building at Site 1, for the purpose of reducing traffic in surrounding neighborhoods.
Mayor Bhalla said he was pleased the council approved the amendments calling it a “win for Hoboken,” noting it provides “the framework to both revitalize our downtown region with an emphasis on commercial development, while substantially reducing the size of the overall project and residential density.”
He and Council President Jen Giattino thanked the council, the community, and the Hoboken Yards Task force for providing input to improve the plan.
Giattino said the plan will be “transforming” for Hoboken and NJ Transit and that she was looking forward to working with stakeholders to make the plan a reality.
Councilman Michael DeFusco, who represents the First Ward where the development will be located, said he supports the new commercial vision for the plan. “I’m confident we’ve developed a plan that works for our city.” He noted that the plan provides for a European style market at Hoboken Terminal and the renovation of the ferry terminal building.
He also noted that the plan incorporates a new pickup and drop-off zone for ride sharing services, taxis and shuttle buses on site, instead of on the street, to help ease congestion in the area.
“I’m confident incorporating a place for these vehicles to park within the development will alleviate a significant amount of any additional traffic,” he said.