Hoboken-based developer Bijou Properties is proposing the first major development project for the city’s industrial northwest following adoption of the North End Redevelopment Plan.
The proposal would create a mixed-use building with a city hall annex and department of public works garage as well as retail space, outdoor art displays, and residential units.
“Since we opened our office above the Pilsener Haus Biergarten nine years ago, we’ve not only watched the North End neighborhood develop its own unique vibe, but we’ve been part of that evolution by hosting the Uptown Farmers Market under the viaduct and bringing in retail tenants like Gravity Vault, Hudson Table, Orale, and the Bwè Kafe/Little City Books collaboration,” said Larry Bijou, managing partner of Bijou Properties.
“We have a personal stake in the success of this neighborhood and are excited about how this art and retail mixed use project will complement the existing uses to make the neighborhood a destination, bring round-the-clock foot traffic, and meet the city’s infrastructure needs. We look forward to listening to and working with Hoboken’s elected officials and community members to create a project that everyone can be proud of.”
The project would include 12,500 square feet of ground floor retail, 430 market rate and 48 affordable housing units, and a roughly 75,000- square-foot facility for a city hall annex and public works garage with municipal office space.
This space would include an Office of Emergency Management Command Center, expanded office space for the Hoboken Parking Utility, and flex office space, according to the developer.
“Bijou Properties will design, construct, and deliver turnkey according to the City’s specifications and make a significant financial contribution toward the City Hall annex and public works garage,” states a press release from Bijou Properties.
The retail space would be along 15th Street and Clinton Street, with the city hall annex and public works garage envisioned on the northern half of the property on 16th Street.
According to Bijou’s proposal, three floors for 305 parking spaces above the ground level would be wrapped with illuminated, decorative metal screening along with curated, screen-printed artwork designed to be periodically rotated. The DPW garage wall along Clinton Street would be designed and prepared for painting community art murals.
The new DPW garage would allow the city to vacate and relocate its current DPW facility on Observer Highway.
Hoboken must vacate the current DPW site by September 2022 due to the Monarch settlement agreement between the city and Ironstate Development.
That settlement, as approved by the city council in February, prevents the Monarch property on the waterfront from being built and includes the transfer of 1.4 acres of undeveloped land at Eighth and Monroe streets to the city for public open space. In exchange, Ironstate will develop a residential building at the current DPW site.
The settlement agreement gives the city the option to fund a temporary municipal garage in northwest Hoboken with funds from the developer before the city officially identifies a permanent location for the garage in Hoboken’s North End.
According to the agreement, the garage could be temporarily located on an existing parking lot next to what will be the Northwest Resiliency Park, currently under construction.
During the February council meeting, residents in northern Hoboken criticized the temporary garage location, saying it would add noise pollution and could be unsafe once the park is opened, among other concerns, including that the temporary home would become permanent.
This new proposal by Bijou properties would provide a permanent home for DPW.
According to Fifth Ward Councilman Phil Cohen, who represents the neighborhood where the project would be constructed, the proposal necessitates amending the newly adopted North End Redevelopment Plan to “fast track completion of the DPW garage, OEM Command Center, and City Hall annex by September 2022.”
According to council documents, amendments include increasing building heights in Sub Area 2, where the project is located, to 78 feet from grade, among other amendments.
The amendments are up for second reading before the council during its virtual meeting on April 7.
“I look forward to supporting this plan to activate an exciting new art and retail district that will vitalize a new northern gateway destination for Hoboken and the 5th Ward,” Cohen said.
While Cohen supports the plan, Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, who represents the second ward that neighbors expressed concerns.
She said that while the proposal had “some attractive features” it is “contrary to the Northwest Plan that was just approved after five years in the making.”
She said the proposal “effectively eliminates the linear park which is central to the plan, and gives significant financial upside to one developer while putting the entire $20 million plus cost of building out the public works garage on the backs of Hoboken taxpayers.”
“There are other alternatives that are available, and we’ve asked the mayor to consider [what] would put Hoboken residents first and would be much better for our entire community,” she said.