A meeting that had higher than usual turnout saw Hoboken’s City Council unanimously vote down a legal settlement that would have ended multiple development-related lawsuits, with both residents and officials mostly in agreement that the deal wasn’t good enough for the city.
The scuttled settlement, which was supported by Mayor Dawn Zimmer, stemmed from litigation filed by both the city and Applied Housing. The company has been seeking to build a 78-unit project called Monarch at Shipyard on a dilapidated pier at 15th Street and Sinatra Drive. But per a 1997 development agreement, the property was supposed to be home to tennis courts and open space.
After finishing the build out of over 1,100 residential units nearby under the agreement in 2011, Applied was granted a permit to build the Monarch project by the Department of Environmental Protection. But the city sued to enforce the original agreement, both the county and local planning boards rejected the project and Hoboken passed a 2013 flood prevention ordinance that banned development on piers.
Applied sued the city in kind and did win the Shipyard case last year, but the issue has continued to play out in the appellate courts.
However, Applied also sued the city over a project they wish to construct at 800-822 Monroe Street, claiming that the city’s requirement that they enter into a redevelopment agreement to build at the property is wrongheaded. But the court ruled in Hoboken’s favor on that case earlier this year, which only enhanced the stalemate between the parties.
Last night, the Council weighed in on a settlement that would have ended the six total lawsuits that have been filed over the two properties. It would have turned over the 15th Street pier to the city for $1, but allowed a 13-story, 265-unit rental building to be constructed at 800 Monroe Street, which is greater than the 186 units currently allowed at the property under the city’s Northwest Redevelopment Plan. The settlement would also have included 27 affordable housing units in the building and kicked in $500,000 to help repair the pier.
The plan had its detractors and even spawned a petition that garnered over 500 signatures. The majority of those who spoke at last night’s meeting urged the council to vote ‘no’ on the settlement, with many voicing concerns about overbuilding and pitting one area of the city against another.
Other points of contention were voiced by Fund for a Better Waterfront, who noted that the cost to repair the pier and turn it into open space might run as high as $18 million. Another resident who spoke noted that the deal as written would allow 800 Monroe to be built with no retail component, which wouldn’t add any amenity to that neighborhood while potentially creating a new park in a different one.
So after a lengthy public portion that ran over two hours, the Council voted 8-0 with one abstention to reject the settlement, although several officials remained open to settling the case if there was a better deal to be had.
It is unclear if further settlement talks will continue between Hoboken and Applied Housing after last night’s vote. The city has spent $1 million on the legal proceedings so far and Mayor Zimmer has said that if the settlement wasn’t approved, officials plan to move forward with more litigation on the matter this December.