The long odyssey hoping to transform a waterfront parking lot into a hotel looks like it’s about to come to an end, as Hoboken officials and a developer announced a pact this week that will build the new hotel and, among other perks, restore a decaying community center.
Almost two years ago, KMS Development Partners announced their desire to build a hotel on a parking lot behind the existing Frank Sinatra Post Office at 1st and River Streets. The project was to be built in conjunction with the federal government, who owns the land and is set to receive a developer-funded renovation to the building if the plan were to go through.
In April last year, the city council signed off on the idea of the hotel, which would be just the city’s second after the W Hoboken. A shorter design was revealed by Cooper Carry Associates earlier this year.
The glass-heavy hotel was set to rise 17 stories and would double the number of hotel rooms in Hoboken while tripling the amount of meeting and event space in the city. After months of back and forth, Hoboken officials and KMS have agreed to $4.5 million in additional community givebacks, the most significant of which will revitalize what will be known as the Hoboken Community Center.
Under the deal, the former YMCA property at 1301 Washington Street will undergo a complete $2 million renovation for which KMS will be footing the bill. When restored, the circa 1929 building, which has been mostly dormant since closing in 2010, will have a re-opened public pool and provide space to expand Hoboken’s pre-K program, which currently has a waitlist. An uptown branch of the Hoboken Public Library is also slated for the property.
Speaking of education, KMS is allocating a total of $1.3 million for both Hoboken’s public and charter schools under the deal, also kicking in an additional $200,000 toward an affordable housing trust fund. The final $1 million under the deal will be invested in infrastructure for water mains and road improvements near the hotel site itself.
The new hotel, which will be branded under Hilton’s umbrella, will offer 300-plus days of public rooftop bar access annually and is to be union built and operated, making it the first major construction project in North Jersey with that designation. Once operational, the hotel is projected to employ about 170 people, create an additional 280 jobs, and add about $5 million per year to the local economy.
Mayor Ravi Bhalla announced the deal on Tuesday while standing next to KMS Principal Dennis Martin and flanked by union members. Councilwomen Tiffanie Fisher and Jennifer Giattino were present at the press conference and support the plan. Shortly after the announcement, Councilman Michael DeFusco, a frequent Bhalla critic, issued a press release saying that while he was disappointed in the amount of money allocated for infrastructure improvements, he nonetheless is in favor of the deal.
The support on the issue from other elected officials means that the new agreement is likely to pass muster with the city council, who will officially vote on the proposal at their upcoming October 17 meeting. Pending approvals, KMS has previously stated they hope to break ground on the project before the end of the year, with hopes of opening the new hotel in late 2019.