A lengthy process to bring a new hotel to Hoboken’s waterfront is creeping closer toward shovels in the ground, as a new plan was announced by city officials that addresses key concerns that some in the community had about the project.
Back in 2016, Philadelphia-based KMS Development Partners released their vision to build a state-of-the-art Hilton Hotel in downtown Hoboken. Designed by Cooper Carry Associates, it was to rise 20 stories, sport 283 rooms, and feature a restaurant plus a 6,000 square foot rooftop event space for banquets and weddings.
The details of the project were unique; the hotel would be built in conjunction with the United States Post Office, who own the waterfront property and currently use it as a parking lot. As part of the agreement, KMS agreed to build a larger enclosed loading dock at 1st and River Streets, add an underground parking garage, and renovate the existing post office.
The development of the property into a hotel would generate about $1.7 million annually for the city, a windfall when you consider the federally-owned land currently generates no income. Last April, the city council voted 6-2 to adopt their Post Office Redevelopment Plan, and KMS submitted their application to be redeveloper in May of last year.
However, height concerns, always an issue in Hoboken, were quickly raised. Then Councilman and current Mayor Ravinder Bhalla called the proposed height of the hotel “grossly out of scale” with the surrounding buildings, which are all less than five stories tall. Others worried about potential shadows that could be created on Pier A Park.
Nonetheless, KMS Principal Dennis Martin told Jersey Digs in an interview that a sense of urgency is needed on the project. “We first signed an agreement with the Postal Service for this project back in July 2012,” Martin says, adding that the development deal KMS struck with the federal government is not permanent, needs to be renewed annually, and costs the company money every time they wish to extend the agreement.
In an odd turn of events, conversations heated up between the city and KMS during a snowstorm. The company met with the mayor’s office on March 14 and submitted a few different proposals for the hotel and talked with them about concepts for the site. Martin says he stressed during the meeting the need for a 170,000 square foot footprint to make the project viable but said KMS could potentially lower the height of the building.
After what Martin called “a productive meeting,” the city unveiled the new design at a press conference with local dignitaries. While no new renderings were released, the new design of the hotel will be about 60 feet lower than the previous one, rising 17 floors and to about the same height as the neighboring Wiley building. A rooftop bar and 15th-floor banquet hall space will be in the upcoming version, and the benefits to the post office remain the same.
“This project is in line with the character and charm of our city,” Mayor Bhalla said during the announcement.
A representative for River Crossing, who is managing PR for the project, told Jersey Digs that an ordinance to designate KMS as redeveloper is slated to be heard at the city council’s April 4 meeting. After that, a specific plan for the project will be negotiated and a final redevelopment agreement will need to be approved by the council.
Martin said during the conference that he wants to get construction of the project started by the end of this year.