Hoboken voters will soon be weighing in on an ambitious scheme to build a new school facility with loads of amenities for the community but with an admittedly hefty price tag.
Last month, the Hoboken Board of Education announced their hope to construct a public high school facility at the current site of JFK Stadium. The district revealed the move in an email to parents shortly after the November elections, which saw Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla run unopposed and the incumbent Board of Education members all win re-election.
The Board of Education says that K-12 enrollment in Hoboken grew by nearly 26% since 2015 and the new building is intended to meet the needs of the growing district. Complete plans for the property, which spans about 4.5 acres, were presented for the first time to the planning board during their December 7 meeting.
Designed by Newark-based Mount Vernon Group Architects, the new Hoboken High School would rise four stories tall and allow 1,200 students, up from the current high school’s 1,100 capacity. The facility was drawn up to allow an additional story to be built on top in years to come if needed and would include a variety of perks for residents on the first floor.
The ground level of the potential school includes two gyms, a year-round ice hockey rink, two outdoor but sheltered tennis courts, a community room, a competition-sized lap pool, a wellness studio, and an occupational and physical therapy room. The public would access the amenities on the Grand Street side of the property, while the student entrance would be located on Jefferson Street.
The school itself would feature 27 general rooms, 11 specialized labs, eight science labs, plus six special education classrooms. Other areas would include a culinary arts classroom, two art rooms, a theater arts space, and a media classroom plus IT lab.
A turf field and stadium would occupy the third-floor “roof” of the structure, which would include a six-lane track, football field, plus concession areas. A fourth floor would rise on only a portion of the property on the west side and is set to include more classrooms plus an additional roof terrace.
A street-level parking garage with space for 110 teacher vehicles is included in the proposal, as is an underground water detention system to assist with storm runoff. The building would additionally feature a photovoltaic system that produces on-site renewable energy and is anticipated to receive LEED Gold designation.
The existing high school at 800 Clinton Street, which opened in 1962, would be converted to a middle school if the plan moves forward. The proposed building would also free up classrooms inside Demarest School for pre-K and elementary school programs, although several of Hoboken High School’s sports teams would be displaced during the duration of the new building’s construction.
The Board of Education aims to fund the project through a 30-year bond worth $241 million, which voters will approve or deny during a January 25 special election. The average taxpayer would pay an additional $496 a year in property taxes over the life of the bond if the plan is approved.
If voters greenlight the deal, Hoboken expects to begin construction within six to eight months of approval with the intention of having the school completed by September 2025.