A plan that could allow three new developments to rise near Hoboken’s train station is being challenged in court by two holding companies that have recently initiated a lot of litigation.
On May 11, a fresh lawsuit was filed in Hudson County Court over amendments that were enacted earlier this year to the Hoboken Yard Redevelopment Plan. Naming the city and its council as defendants, the plaintiffs’ case claims that the latest plan is too vague and fails to “sufficiently indicate the proposed land uses and building requirements.”
Plans to revitalize several parcels owned by NJ Transit near Hoboken Terminal have been in the works for decades, with the most recent version envisioning 1.3 million square feet of development split between a trio of commercial buildings along Observer Highway. Passed by the council in February, the scheme would allow different building heights depending on the findings of feasibility studies.
Those stipulations are at the heart of the legal challenge and the property known as Site 2 under the plan is cited throughout the lawsuit. The redevelopment proposes a 330-foot office building at the property that is “subject to a financial feasibility study to be conducted by the City to determine if the property can be developed as commercial or mixed-use residential.”
But according to the lawsuit, the amended plan “does not set forth the proposed building requirements in the event Site 2 is developed for residential use.” The complaint also takes issue with other ambiguities in the plan, as it allegedly “does not describe the process by which Hudson Place would be utilized by or otherwise conveyed to NJ Transit in connection with the Hoboken Yard Redevelopment.”
“Moreover, whereas the 2014 Plan had a very detailed stepback regulation framework tailored to each development site, the proposed amendments only specified stepback requirements for Site 2,” the complaint says.
The end result of the amended plan, according to the case, is that it “merely sets forth the potential land uses in the Hoboken Yard Redevelopment Area, and expressly indicates that the land uses may change depending on the outcome of future studies.”
The complaint suggests that the city acknowledges the fluid nature of the plan, as it cites comments made by city planner Jessica Giorgianni during a January 22 meeting. “Significantly, Ms. Giorgianni made clear that the size and nature of the redevelopment was subject to the outcome of future studies, as Ms. Giorgianni presented four scenarios of the redevelopment. “
The suit was filed by Hoboken Land Building LP and Hoboken Holdings LP, who both own properties near the city’s train station. Back in 2018, the pair sued the city and KMS Development to block a redevelopment deal looking to build a 20-story Hilton hotel along Sinatra Drive.
They initially succeeded the following year, winning in court and forcing the city to void the Hilton deal and renegotiate a new one. The duo quickly filed another lawsuit looking to block the second deal, but that complaint was quietly dismissed with prejudice by a judge on March 19 earlier this year.
Shortly thereafter, the companies filed another still-pending lawsuit against the Hoboken planning board on March 23 claiming that their approval of the Hilton project was “arbitrary and capricious.” The pair’s latest litigation over the Hoboken Yard Redevelopment Plan marks their fourth lawsuit filed against the city over the last 18 months.
Hoboken has not yet responded to our request for comment on the newest litigation.