‘This is a nonstarter’

New Hoboken development gets pushback from council and residents

A rendering of the project from Monroe and 11th streets looking south as presented by S9 Architects.
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A rendering of the project from Monroe and 11th streets looking south as presented by S9 Architects.

Residents got a peek at a proposed new development at 930 Monroe St. during a virtual community meeting on July 16. While many said the project was beautiful, others said it needed work.

“This is a nonstarter for me,” said Third Ward Councilman Michael Russo, saying the project did not include enough community benefits.

The project consists of three 116-foot buildings over design flood elevation with 50,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space and 675 residential units.

Ten percent or 68 units would be set aside as affordable housing.

The development will include a 350,000-gallon tank as part of its storm water management system to help reduce flooding.

As part of an agreement with the city, the developer would spend $10 million to develop a 1.5-acre park at 800 Monroe St., which the developer said would be a resiliency park to help address flooding.

The developer would spend an additional $5 million on a portion of the Green Circuit and “linear park” in front of their LEED-certified buildings.

Parking would be at the rear of the buildings near the light rail tracks and could accommodate roughly 575 vehicles, 100 of which would be for the community.

According to City Planner Jessica Giorgianni, should the developer proceed with this plan, the council would need to adopt a few amendments to the Western Edge Redevelopment Plan.

Amendments needed 

These amendments include reducing the setback from the light rail, reducing the base floor area ratio for nonresidential space, and changing the bonus floor area ratio which is permitted in the plan but not specified.

Amendments will also be needed to reduce the height of the first floor from 16 feet to 14 feet, among other amendments.

Residents repeatedly commented on how beautiful the architectural renderings were, noting that it would add vibrancy to an otherwise lifeless area behind ShopRite which is currently used by a busy Amazon fulfillment center.

Others said the project seemed out of scale with the neighborhood, didn’t include enough community benefits, would eliminate street parking, and add too much density.

Chris Adair, president of Bike Hoboken, said she was glad to see the green circuit – a multi-modal circulation network that includes integrated bike lanes – but that she was undecided if it should be moved to the front of the building instead of behind as originally conceived.

“My biggest worry is that we may see more bike and pedestrian conflicts like we do on the Sinatra Drive bike path,” she said.

She also questioned the width of the bike path noting that a two-way bike path should be wider, and the lack of bike parking in the plan.

Resident Bob Crespi questioned the need for the elimination of street parking on the west side of the street, noting that the buildings do not provide one parking space per unit and residents use the on-street parking.

Community benefits?

“Where are you going to put the 250 cars?” he said.

He also questioned if the park and green circuit were enough of a community benefit.

Russo echoed the sentiment, noting that a similar project, Seven Seventy House, got the city a public plaza, resiliency park, and gym.

“I’ll say it once, I’ll say it a thousand times, this is a nonstarter for me,” Russo said. “I’m not opposed to large-scale development, but I am opposed to it if it in fact it has no benefit to the community at large.”

Second Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher questioned how deliveries would be handled as well as the lot coverage, noting that some of the outdoor public space labeled as a community benefit wouldn’t be usable, citing the green center of a traffic circle.

She asked how legislation by Sen. Brian Stack, mayor of Union City, was influencing the plan, saying that originally the proposed Palisade Cliffs Protection Act sought to keep all development from being higher than Palisade Ave. and new legislation sought to further lower the height further to no higher than Manhattan Ave.

The developer, Lou Madigan, said he had follow-up conversations with the senator regarding the plan but preferred to speak about it privately.

“That’s fine, but I want you to know we will bring it right back out to the public,” said Fisher “The fact…that a mayor of a surrounding city is impacting our development is a major problem.”

Fifth Ward Councilman Phil Cohen, who represents the ward where the project would be constructed, said he felt the project did have community benefits in the form of the new city park and green circuit, noting that the project is not out of scale with the neighborhood and that the height is permitted in the plan.

“Having a long-term Amazon warehouse at the site is a long-term detriment to this community,” he said.

For updates on this and other stories check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Marilyn Baer can be reached at Marilynb@hudsonreporter.com.