Amid a slew of controversies as to how and what should be built within a prominent redevelopment area, Weehawken has finally approved a new scheme that will bring more residential housing, parking, retail and open space to their waterfront.
During a special meeting held on May 28, the township’s planning board voted 7-1 to approve a new mixed-use project set to rise on a 2.2-acre site that abuts the Hoboken border. A previous application looking to construct two 18-story towers at the property was rejected by Weehawken’s planning board back in October, but the greenlit version reduces the height of the development by about 25%.
The journey to approval for Hartz Mountain’s latest project was long; seven hearings were held on the current application that included several virtual meetings following the COVID-19 outbreak. The development, being built on a surface parking lot, is being referred to as Atir and now consists of two 14-story structures connected by a seven-story parking garage including 321 spaces to be entered from Harbor Boulevard.
The 259 units in the project break down as 44 studios, 156 one-bedrooms, and 59 two-bedrooms. Designed by New York-based CentraRuddy, the development features amenity terraces on the second and fifth floors plus a 4,000-square foot fitness center. The parking structure between the towers will sport a roof deck including a game area, entertainment terrace, demonstration kitchen, barbeque section, fireplaces, spa, and pool complete with water features.
A retail space just over 1,000-square feet will be located on the ground floor near the southwest corner of the property just off the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway. A landscaping plan designed by Melillo + Bauer Associates includes a new walkway next to the structure plus a dog run near the northeast portion of the property.
The approved plan for the parcel will re-align a portion of Harbor Boulevard that’s adjacent to the project site. The development was granted variances to allow for more narrow on-site parking spaces than what’s regulated by local ordinances and shorter loading spaces than what’s required.
Last year’s denied plan from Hartz Mountain caused township officials to pass an ordinance that modified zoning at the property, which falls within the SW Special Waterfront Zone. The changes imposed a 160-foot height limit for any future building at the site and added a requirement that Hartz Mountain dedicate 270 free parking spaces within Lincoln Harbor to the public.
To comply with the parking portion of the ordinance, Hartz Mountain will make 80 surface parking spaces available to the public free of charge for up to two hours. The company will also provide 100 non-exclusive parking spaces within the 1450 Waterfront Terrace development to Weehawken residents free of charge for up to three hours and pay the township $220,000 for the purchase of two shuttle buses.
Attorneys for Hartz Mountain describe the project as a “gateway to Weehawken” and the development is adjacent to the Rebuild By Design flood mitigation project. The company has coordinated with the Department of Environmental Protection on that endeavor, which has yet to break ground despite being announced in 2014.
Some legal issues remain unsettled for the Atir development to move forward. Jersey Digs was the first to report on a lawsuit filed in January by Hartz Mountain challenging Weehawken’s new height and parking ordinance, but that case has since been dropped.
However, the Jersey Journal reports that several nearby property owners and Fund for a Better Waterfront have filed at least three other lawsuits against the township over the new regulations. It remains to be seen how the legal drama plays out in court, and Hartz Mountain has not announced any groundbreaking date for their latest project.