A Nixle alert issued by the city of Hoboken on Wednesday said site preparation at the building at 38 Jackson St. had begun this month. The property owners, 38 Jackson LLC., were wrapping up asbestos removal on August 19, with demolition set to begin after additional city permit approvals.
The redevelopment as described in an agreement signed last December calls for a mixed-use commercial site with 123 residential units, 12 of which will be affordable housing, a new 22,000 square foot supermarket, and commercial space. The redeveloper agreed to pay the city $800,000 for expansion of the Southwest Resiliency Park.
However, a fatal fire five days after the agreement was approved by the City Council killed two people and displaced a number of small business tenants inside the former My-T-Fine Pudding warehouse. A second fire flared up two days later. Investigators ultimately ruled the fire an accident.
Gary Mezzatesta, managing partner of the Taurasi Group and the manager of 38 Jackson LLC., said in an interview that before the developers get a demolition permit from the city, they will need to get a number of items done, and the state Department of Environmental Protection must sign off on the environmental cleaning.
“We don’t know how long it’ll take [the city] to issue the permit,” he said. “Assuming we do review all of our materials/checklist and everything’s thorough and complete, they’ll issue a permit at their convenience. Once we have the permit, then we’ll schedule demolition, so I expect it’ll be sometime in the beginning of the first half of September.”
The building will be only partially demolished. Mezzatesta said of the six structures on the site before the fire, the north structure facing the Southwest Resiliency Park will be preserved, emptied out, stripped down to its structural elements, then rebuilt.
All the other buildings, he said, will be torn down. “The reason for that is the other buildings were totally destroyed due to the fire and not deemed to be structurally sound; not meeting current code, so it will be hard to reuse them,” he said.
Hoboken spokeswoman Marilyn Baer said that all the other buildings on the block are not part of the original historic factory.
When asked what would have happened if the fire had never happened, Mezzatesta said that it was “hard to answer that question,” saying that the city wanted a supermarket and parking space, and that it would be hard to do it without tearing down the old buildings.
“Basically because you need a certain amount of square footage and certain clearances to build a contemporary supermarket and parking garage, and you wouldn’t have the foundational support from the old buildings to do that,” he said.
He also added that all of the tenants from the building have been vacated and their valuables moved out.
“We’re looking forward to working with the city to get this project underway and to complete it,” he said. “We’re excited that it’ll really recreate southwest Hoboken and make it a better place for the current residents and future residents.”