Redevelopment study for Hoboken police HQ and parking garages voted down

Questions arose over the necessity of redevelopment, and over ulterior motives

The study would have considered the Hoboken police headquarters as part of a redevelopment area.

A contract to conduct a redevelopment designation area review at the Hoboken police headquarters and three nearby municipal garages was voted down by the City Council at their April 20 meeting.

The contract would have awarded $33,000 to Bright View Engineering to assist the Department of Community Development to create a redevelopment area designation evaluation for multiple property lots, including the police department headquarters, Garages B, D and G, and 5 Marine View Plaza.

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During the meeting, Community Development Director Christopher Brown explained that the city was aiming to redevelop the area by adding more ground level retail and having more active pedestrian activity on the street.

“If you walk down Hudson Street right now, on that block where Garage B is and between the police station or just all the way down Hudson Street, the garages essentially create a dead zone,” he told the council.

A number of council members however questioned the need for a potential redevelopment designation, with Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher asking why they would designate an area with property that they already own.

“If it’s all city-owned property, we could do all of that through zoning changes,” she said. “We could do whatever we want with city-owned property, right? So why would we need to go through a redevelopment designation process?”

Brown replied that the redevelopment of the garages would be a “pricey endeavor” and that their goal was to leverage private development to offset city costs.

Councilman Ramos was one of the number of council members that questioned the need for a redevelopment designation. Photo by Mark Koosau.

When asked by Councilwoman Jen Giattino on why the police headquarters was in the study, Business Administrator Jason Freeman clarified that it was because the Bhalla administration is looking to relocate it to the proposed municipal complex at the north end.

The proposed municipal complex in of itself is meant to be a replacement for the Department of Public Works garage that the city is vacating as part of the Monarch settlement agreement, to which Giattino referenced in her rebuttal on the contract.

“Before we think about selling property that we currently own, we make sure that we have a home for what’s housed there now,” said Giattino.

Councilman Ruben Ramos echoed Giattino’s comments, and also added that they could relocate the police station at the parking lot site across the street and sell the existing station to fund it without a redevelopment plan.

“It’s all just to sell the property to fund the municipal complex, which nobody wants,” he also said on the proposed redevelopment, as well as voicing his opposition to the proposed complex.

The resolution for awarding the contract was voted down 2-6-1, with Council members Emily Jabbour and Phil Cohen voting yes, and Councilman Michael DeFusco absent from the meeting that night.

A Hoboken spokesperson did not respond for comment on the rejected contract.

Another resolution that would have awarded a $75,450 contract for parking needs assessment for the area was also voted down with the same vote as the other contract.

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.