The Hoboken City Council unanimously introduced the draft North End Redevelopment Plan during a special virtual meeting on Jan. 27.
The plan reimagines 30 acres of Hoboken’s primarily industrial northwest and sets the permitted uses and development standards for the North End Rehabilitation Area roughly 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 draft plan
As it currently stands, the plan includes a proposal for a new Hudson-Bergen Light Rail station, public open space to connect to a city-wide green circuit, a mix of new commercial and residential uses, a minimum 10 percent affordable housing set aside, a pedestrian-oriented retail corridor along 15th Street, a pedestrian promenade along Clinton Street, and the raising of streets to accommodate underground flood infrastructure.
It includes guidelines for establishing a multi-modal circulation network, including integrated bike lanes, shared parking, new parks and open space, sustainable land use and development, and new public infrastructure.
According to the city’s consultants, the plan is consistent with the city’s vision to avoid tall buildings and overdevelopment, keeping the scale of buildings consistent with the pre-existing height of buildings in the rest of the city.
Building heights would range from five to 10 stories. A minimum of roughly 1,134 units could come to the area, with the majority of buildings being mixed-use with ground-floor commercial space.
This does not include allowances for increased height to roughly 12 stories if developers offer certain givebacks such as increasing the affordable housings set aside from 10 to 15 percent.
Residents seemed to support the plan, but several questioned the height and bulk of the potential new developments and the new neighborhood’s impact on traffic congestion and parking.
Some felt that buildings of up to 12 stories did not reflect Hoboken’s character.
Resident Rastko Tomin said he felt residents were more comfortable with buildings that were five or seven stories.
“This looks like the recently overdeveloped areas of Edgewater,” Tomin said.
Resident Thane Rehn said that the council should consider increasing the height, so that the buildings could be more architecturally interesting, noting that as it stands now, developers will most likely create “big boxes” so they can use every square foot, as the requirements are “basically forcing developers to build out to the limits of the envelope.”
Council President Ruben Ramos said the renderings, which show boxy buildings, were done only to give the council an idea of the space.
“They’re just concepts,” he said. “The developers will hire architects. They’ll incorporate hopefully dynamic design.”
Residents questioned how the proposed new light rail stop at either 15th or 17th Street would be built.
According to city planner Jessica Giorgianni, the city and NJ Transit favor 15 Street, ,considering the curvature of the track at 17th Street. She said NJ Transit would build the light rail stop if given the funds, noting that developers who seek to develop in the North End would contribute to the costs of the stop.
Others said that while the light rail stop would be great, it wouldn’t eliminate traffic, some residents noting area congestion, difficulty crossing the street, and parking problems.
The city’s consultants said traffic-calming measures will be implemented throughout the area, and shared parking is included in the plan.
Others said that the city should eliminate or reduce parking minimums to incentivize greener transportation options like walking or cycling.
Fair Share Housing Center attorney Bassam Gergi wrote to the council, approving the plan’s affordable housing requirements.
“The City of Hoboken has an important chance here to help open the doors of opportunity to those who need that opportunity most, which will transform lives for the better,” Gergi said. “FSHC respectfully urges the City to seize it and to maximize the affordable housing produced in the North End.”
While the council introduced the plan, Ramos said that the it will consider amending the plan after considering the public’s feedback.
This would mean that the plan would go back to first reading before it’s officially adopted on second reading.
Once the plan is adopted, developers of new projects within the North End Redevelopment Plan Area will need to submit applications to the city to be designated as a redeveloper, and a redevelopment agreement will need to be negotiated with the city.
The 148-page Draft North End Redevelopment Plan can be downloaded here.