The city of Hoboken went in-depth on its proposal for a new municipal complex at 1501 Adams St., where the city is looking to create a 95,000 square foot space for public safety, recreational and municipal spaces on the northwest end of the city.
In a virtual meeting on Wednesday night, Mayor Ravi Bhalla, who had announced the proposal during his State of the City address last week, said that it was “a historic project” that “holistically look at our city and infrastructure needs, and how we move forward not just today or next year, but for generations to come.”
The plan for a complex stems from the Monarch agreement late last year, where in exchange for acquiring the Monarch site near Pier 15, the city agreed to let Ironstate Developers acquire the current municipal works garage at 256 Observer Hwy., turn it into a mixed-used development, and have until Nov. 2024 to vacate it.
At first, the process was slated to create a replacement public works garage, but in explaining the change to a new municipal complex with different departments, Business Administrator Jason Freeman said that with the possibility of requiring a full city block in the North End, they have an opportunity to plan for the future.
“We currently have a once-in-a century opportunity to think holistically for the future of our city; to modernize multiple antiquated facilities and infrastructure, while avoiding millions of dollars in cost to bring aging buildings into the current century, plan for efficient and effective government operations, and meet the residents demand for community space, which could and should include indoor recreation and senior services,” he said.
With department heads from the police, fire, and others speaking, the common points they made was that their current facilities were antiquated, and that they share common needs such as emergency operations center, consolidated dispatch, parking fleet maintenance, and so forth.
“Further, public works and public safety work in lockstep during an emergency,” said Environmental Services Director Jennifer Gonzalez. “It simply makes sense to co-locate our operations in the same building for response times and efficiency.”
Overview of project
In a presentation by John Nastasi of Nastasi Architects, Nastsai went over the proposed floor plans and visual designs for the complex.
The core of it would be the public works facility, which will take up two-thirds of the project at 118,700 square feet on the north side.
For other public safety departments, there would be a 30,000 square foot fire headquarters on the southern side with a drive-thru bay; a 31,100 square foot police headquarters with the majority of its departments in an administrative building, a public face on 15th St and a 72-space parking structure to house its entire fleet above the public works; and a 9,000 square foot Office of Emergency Management base near the police department.
Nastasi said that one can see the value of having different departments together in the same place. “Whenever you cluster these departments together, there’s a tremendous efficiency with shared services like meeting rooms, teaching rooms, amenity space for these folks,” he said.
The upper levels of the complex would have 37,000 square feet of municipal offices for “disparate departments that are scattered all over Hoboken and are overcrowded in City Hall,” and 13,400 square feet of space for a courtroom and City Council chambers.
Lastly, there would be a 405-space public parking garage, a 5,500 square foot branch of the Hoboken Public Library, a 18,500 square foot field house, and a 42,000 square foot recreation center.
For the field house and recreational center, the city wants to get input on residents for what would be the best use for them.
The city said that they will use private developers to pay for the majority of the project, as well as all available grant funds with the goal of minimizing expenses to taxpayers.
The proposed project timeline for the city would be to acquire the property in the spring, get financing and final design plans, specs and estimates during the summer, break ground by the end of this year, and complete construction of the facility by 2024.
Resistance from Poggi
In the midst of the city’s proposal, the plan to acquire the Poggi Press site at 1501 Adams St. has been met with resistance from it’s owner, Charlie Poggi, who said that he wants to develop the property himself, and has accused the city of targeting him because he had little political connections compared to other considered sites for a municipal complex.
In a press release issued before the meeting, Poggi said that via an Open Public Records Act request they received, Nastasi Architects was given a schematic design documents for the project, and by Jan. 26, had assembled a 12-member design team of architects, engineers, a lighting design expert and landscape design firm, as well as fees for all of them.
Poggi then said that Nastasi’s submission had a design development schedule saying that the city planned to acquire his property by Feb. 2 by eminent domain, and that by March, the architectural and engineering team will apply for a flood hazard permit, a water main permit, and other approvals before submitting the project proposal to the city planning board by the end of the month.
“Nastasi’s is a remarkably ambitious timetable for a project few people in the city knew about until just over a week ago, and which I, as the property owner, was never told about,” he said in a statement. ”I guarantee that none of the residents or businesses in my neighborhood knew anything about the dramatic change to their lifestyle that is going to be foisted on them.”
At the most recent City Council meeting on March 9, the council adopted an ordinance to allow the city to acquire his property or mark it for eminent domain. But they held off on a $40 million bond ordinance to acquire the property, which requires six votes to be adopted; it was introduced on first reading 5-4.
When asked about the possibility of the bond ordinance being voted down, Gonzalez said that if it were to happen, they would have to look for other locations for a temporary public works facility, and that it would force them to look at other locations in the city.
“We’d probably have to…whether it’d be other sites that we thought would be parks,” she said. “We would really have to take a strong look at where we can put temporary operations until we can work out our permanent location. But we certainly hope that this will be our permanent location.”
The day after the meeting, Poggi issued a statement saying that residents “are rightfully upset that the administration’s proposal violates the city’s own North End Redevelopment Plan – which calls for residential and commercial property and a linear park.”
“Ultimately the city officials offered few answers to people’s questions – including answers to the biggest question of all – how much is the city’s project going to cost?” he said.
For more details on the project, visit hobokennj.gov/hobokenmunicipalcomplex.