A property near one of Hoboken’s major gateways that dates to the post-Civil War era has a new plan for revitalization that preserves space for current tenants and includes a public indoor plaza and market.
The Neumann Leathers complex at 300 Observer Highway is a hulking industrial block that sticks out amidst the redeveloped parcels surrounding it. The company that created the facility was formed in 1863, and the oldest four-story section of the facility was built around that time.
The taller and newer portion was constructed in 1919, back when an elevated streetcar line adorned what is now Observer Highway. The collection of buildings was used for decades to produce and tan leather but has been home to an artist and light industrial community since the 1980s.
The property was sold to the current ownership group back in 2014 and they have been working on a plan to revive the complex with Nastasi Architects, who themselves operate out of the building.
Proposals for the future of Neumann Leathers have been discussed as far back as an initial reveal in 2017, with a new design emerging two years later before a modified plan was presented in early 2021.
The latest plan supersizes the last version a bit but still seeks to create a revitalized industrial arts space, several large public plazas, and significant retail alongside apartments.
The reconstruction of the two current mixed-use buildings would be carried out in accordance with historic standards and an existing smokestack at the property would be preserved under a potential redevelopment deal.
The tallest 16-story section would be built over existing portions of the complex and redevelop a surface parking lot currently present on the property. The historic portions of the building would be connected via glass-heavy components.
The crown jewel of the plan involves the creation of a 32,500-square-foot outdoor public plaza that would be built within an interior courtyard to be entered along Newark Street. The new plan additionally calls for a 9,500-square-foot indoor plaza set to feature some of the project’s planned retail space.
The courtyard would double as a resiliency park that can collect 120,000 gallons of stormwater during storms. Grand Street would also be extended through the property between Newark Street and Observer Highway, with a bus stop to be added.
375 residential units are included in the latest proposal, up from the previous version’s 310 apartments. Hoboken’s regulations dictate a 10% affordable housing set-aside at the property, and the current plan includes parking accommodations at around .5 garage spaces per unit.
The newest plans were revealed during a community meeting held on January 10, but it is unclear if the proposal will gain traction. Hoboken’s City Council still needs to approve a redevelopment agreement with the owners of the complex before any action takes place, and the city’s planning board will need to weigh in on the project before any construction begins.