Officials in the Mile Square City are hoping they finally have a winning scheme in place to revitalize a stretch of railyard along the southern border, a blueprint the council advanced following several months of debate.
Plans regarding the Hoboken Yard Redevelopment Plan have been plentiful over the years, but little progress toward actual construction has been made. The most recent plan for the zone, which encompasses just over six acres of developable land owned by NJ Transit along Observer Highway, was adopted back in 2014 and went nowhere.
Last year, officials began discussing amendments to the plan that were necessitated by the Rebuild by Design flood protection initiative. That endeavor will construct a wall-like structure that intrudes on part of the property, a portion that is now excluded from development rights under the latest plan.
Passed 9-0 by the council during their February 19 meeting, the newest version of the Hoboken Yard Redevelopment Plan reduces the overall allowed development to a maximum of just over 1.3 million square feet. It allows development at three sites that are all envisioned as commercial properties.
Site one, near Hudson Street and Hudson Place, is zoned for a commercial office building that could rise between 200 and 300 feet tall depending on the results of a financial feasibility study. Just a few blocks west, a 330-foot-tall building allowed on site two is envisioned as a commercial property under the plan.
However, the city has allowed the possibility of residential development on site two if commercial use is found to be unworkable. If any residential component is built on the parcel, it would need to designate 20% of the units as affordable housing per language in the redevelopment plan.
Site three under the plan is along Observer Highway and Marin Boulevard, currently home to an NJ Transit maintenance building. That facility would need to be relocated before development takes place at the property, which is zoned for a commercial building with a maximum height of 145 feet.
Parking requirements for the commercial buildings include 0.125 spaces per 1,000 square feet and if residential development ends up happening at site two, 0.25 parking spaces would need to be created for every unit that’s built.
A major component of the latest plan calls for the renovation of the Hoboken Terminal ferry building and Warrington Plaza. That could include amenities like an outdoor market space and revitalization of the second floor of the structure, which has been closed to the public for many years.
Several officials, including First Ward Councilman Michael DeFusco, have advocated for changes to the plaza, which is currently fenced off and used by NJ Transit vehicles for parking. The lot has occasionally hosted dumpsters in recent years as part of ongoing station repairs stemming from a train crash at the station that occurred in 2016.
As part of the plan, a new pick-up and drop-off zone for ride-sharing services, taxis, and shuttle buses will be created at the site. New York-based LCOR has been designated as redeveloper of the parcels and the city can now negotiate a redevelopment agreement with the company following the plan’s approval.
“I’m pleased that the most updated version of the Hoboken Yard Redevelopment Plan incorporates the extensive community feedback we’ve received over the past several months,” said Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla. “This plan is a win for Hoboken as it provides the framework to both revitalize our downtown region with an emphasis on commercial development, while substantially reducing the size of the overall project and residential density.”
NJ Transit had a litany of problems with the 2014 version of the plan, but a quote to the Jersey Journal from LCOR gives hope that the latest version of the scheme might be the one that finally sticks.
“We look forward to continuing our collaboration, working closely with NJ Transit and the city of Hoboken, on this transformative redevelopment project,” said LCOR Senior Vice President Brian Barry.