Hoboken’s new municipal complex vision gets a public airing

The $152.2 million facility is designed to meet multiple needs

The city of Hoboken took feedback from the public to make changes to the municipal complex proposal. Photo by Mark Koosau.

The city of Hoboken laid out it’s newest version of the municipal complex proposal, and discussed the costs of the project and other aspects during a community meeting Monday night.

Originally slated to be a new municipal works garage as part of the Monarch agreement, the city has expanded its vision and proposed a new municipal complex in the northwest end of the city, a facility that will include public safety departments, city offices and community spaces.

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Mayor Ravi Bhalla said that the current police, fire and public works facilities are worn out, and that the city is also looking at other community needs, such as recreation and the public library, to ultimately create a place for the long term.

“What we’ve proposed with professionals that are a lot more talented than I am is a municipal complex that can meet multiple essential city functions, and create a much better quality of life for our residents,” he said. “This is what I think residents of the city of Hoboken deserve.”

Newest version of proposal

The city had initially held a virtual meeting going in-depth on the project proposal last month, and made changes based on the feedback they received since then. Architect John Nastasi said that the public wanted to have the 15th St. side, which was going to be the fire station, to be more community based, as well as having a municipal pool at the complex.

In the newest version of the proposal, the Department of Public Works would be on 16th St. across from the Hudson Hudson Sewerage Authority. The front of the building would be the fire department, and above the DPW would be the police headquarters, as well as the Office of Emergency Management.

“You can imagine in a city like this with 55,000 people, under one roof, we have all the public safety,” said Nastasi. “When there’s a crisis event, we could have joint efforts, have shared spaces and have fire, police, OEM and public works working together under the same roof.”

One of the public’s most requested features were creating a community space and having a pool. Photo by Mark Koosau.

The 15th St. side of the complex would be the community building for public access, such as having art classes, going to the north branch of the library or reserving space for a community meeting. The roof of the lower building could also be a community park and municipal pool.

The project would also have a new city courthouse, City Council chambers and city offices. It could also potentially have a 549 vehicle parking garage, a recreational center and a field house.

The city presented four options for the complex: the base option, one that includes the municipal pool and parking, one that also includes the recreational center, and one that also includes the indoor field house, and sought for additional feedback from residents on the proposal.

Costs of the project

The overall budget for the project would cost at least $152.2 million, with $115 million for public services, $18 million for sitework, and $19.5 million for site acquisition. Adding the pool and parking would cost $10 million more, adding the recreation center would cost an additional $20 million, and the field house would cost another $10 million more.

The city administration said that they want to have as little taxpayer impact as possible in creating the project. Environmental Services Director Jennfier Gonzalez said that they’re looking at multiple sources, starting with private funding from PILOT agreements for the LCOR Site 2 PILOT at $21.5 million and the Neumann Leathers PILOT at $31.7 million.

Once they use up their developer options, they’ll then look at potential assets that the city currently owns that they could redevelop, such as the police and fire headquarters, the fire museum, the automated garage and the North Lot (though they would consider the lot if the pool and recreation options were selected), which would all be worth another $55 million.

The municipal complex proposed is estimated to cost at least $152.2 million. Photo by Mark Koosau.

They could also have contributions from the Hoboken Public Library for the uptown library branch, and grant funding such as the FIRE Act Authorization.

The potential taxpayer contribution over 30 years for the project would be at least $28.5 million and up to $38.5 million. Referencing the later amount, Gonzalez said that it would cost taxpayers about $130 per year.

“This is just a starting point,” she said. “We are continuing to work and get more and more details, and more potential funding sources, namely developer funding.”

Gonzalez said that consolidating their facilities would result in resource sharing and operational savings for residents, and there would also be financial savings from developing one building instead of multiple.

The Poggi factor

The city wants to locate the complex at 1501 Adams St., the site of the Poggi Press building. But the property’s owner, Charlie Poggi, is opposed, saying he wants to redevelop the property himself.

Poggi said in a statement that the city’s plan is “voodoo math,” and questioned the city’s usage of PILOT money. “The city is willing to give more tax breaks to developers to pay for its complex – but the reality is that the city can’t pay for its project by diverting revenue needed to provide services and pay employees,” he said.

“I believe my original redevelopment proposal would have been better for the city and the residents of the North End,” he continued.

The City Council adopted an ordinance last month to allow the city to buy the property or acquire it through condemnation, known as eminent domain. A $40 million bond ordinance to acquire the property has been held off the agenda since then.

When asked about Poggi’s opposition to the plan, Bhalla said that they want to work “very cooperatively” with him and reach an agreement.

For updates on this and other stories, check hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Mark Koosau can be reached at mkoosau@hudsonreporter.com or his Twitter @snivyTsutarja.