So What’s Really The Deal With Hoboken And Shake Shack?

hoboken development 107 111 Washington Street
Rendering Credit: Nastasi Architects

Hoboken’s Zoning Board denied an application for a new development along Washington Street earlier this week that was allegedly going to house a Shake Shack, but there’s some debate as to the popular burger chain’s involvement with a project whose future is now uncertain.

A four-investor LLC was looking to gain approvals for a new mixed-use property at 107-111 Washington Street, currently home to a parking lot for neighboring Walgreens. The development, designed by Nastasi Architects, would have contained 14 rental units that broke down as ten one-bedrooms of varying sizes, two 1,120-square foot three-bedrooms, and two studios, one which would have been set aside as a low-income affordable unit.

hoboken shake shack 107 111 Washington Street
Rendering Credit: Nastasi Architects

The project would have included some outdoor space and a green roof, also creating two paved parking spots in the back of the building off Court Street where the residential entrance would be. The front of the building would feature two separate retail spaces, one of 3,990-square feet at street level and one of 3,970-square feet in the basement.

Renderings of the building included the words “Shake Shack” above the retail’s awning, although their connection with the project isn’t clear. In the development’s application submitted to the city, there is nothing included from Shake Shack that officially indicates that the company had committed to the space, and the restaurant is not mentioned by name in any of the forms, descriptions, or various planning reports.

A rep for Shake Shack told Jersey Digs that “we have no news to share about an opening in Hoboken” and added “as you can imagine, rumors often circulate about our potential openings.” But a Zoning Board isn’t supposed to take proposed tenants into account when making their decisions and retail leases are never permanent anyway, so Shake Shack’s involvement or lack thereof shouldn’t have been a factor in the denial.

Update: Shake Shack just tweeted this out:

Nonetheless, the Board voted the proposal down at their April 18th meeting by a 2-5 vote, likely due to the number of variances requested. Per the application, the developers were seeking variances for lot coverage of 80% where 60% is allowed, density for 14 units where eight are allowed, and parking for two cars where 14 spaces are required.

Washington Street’s zoning also doesn’t allow commercial space in a cellar area, which necessitated another variance. Because the city determined the retail space in the basement counts as a floor, a height variance for six stories was also needed, bringing the total sought to five.

But is this rejection a case of the Zoning Board doing their job? Or are they overreaching by rebuffing a proposal of this type? While some have railed against the board’s decisions for many years, others have suggested a few of the variances this proposal was seeking, particularly the parking one, demonstrate how antiquated the city’s zoning code is and perhaps updating and modernizing it would be a more effective avenue to address the issue.

The architect for the project, John Nastasi, did not respond to a Jersey Digs inquiry but told the Hudson Reporter that he’s not sure if the developers will pursue recourse about the rejection through the Planning Board.


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  1. Yea, seems like too many variances in this case. As for the Shake Shack aspect of it, you’re right, that doesn’t mean a thing that they put it in the renderings. My guess: they were just looking for a high-end brand name to show off on the image.

  2. You also have to figure into the equation is that the publicizing of the issue 0r non-issue is being instigated by a potential anti-administration mayoral candidate.

  3. The only clowns are the developers who think shoving five variances at the Hoboken Zoning Board without a second thought was a good idea. A very well done professional article here. Impressive.

    The four backers must have felt it was worth a shot. But Hoboken isn’t a clown show anymore and developers don’t call the shots. Certainly not like in the bad old days when FBI video came out in 2011 adding Third Ward Councilman Michael Russo to the local corruptocrat list with him agreeing to bribes for a zoning deal. He told the FBI informant to make out the check to his political committee but didn’t even ask him where in Hoboken the property was located.

    This not long after ex-mayor and convicted felon Peter Cammarano was nailed for a similar betrayal against Hoboken taking $25,000 in bribes before and after the mayoral 2009 election for, you guessed it, Zoning considerations.

    The bad old days of Hoboken are gone hopefully never to return. Thanks Mayor Zimmer for being a public servant and serving honestly.

    Such a rarity these days and especially in the Soprano State.

  4. Vezetti was a horrible Mayor. The current zoning board is becoming a joke and is filled with people that do not know the damage they are doing to the City of Hoboken. To the bozo above. Are you even aware that they counted a basement on Washington St. as a variance? Are you kidding me! Almost every single property on Washington St. has a basement. The other was for lot coverage on the ground floor. As if we are looking for pretty backyards in a commercial district! Another variance was for additional 4 additional units which was the result of making more 1 BRs instead of larger “family friendly” apartments that would not move into the Commercial Business District anyway.

    The good news is all nightmares come to an end. The Mayor and City Council will get rid of this careless board or rezone around them. They fully understand what is at risk and understand that the Public is furious with the clown brigade. The Public dictates what happens here and clearly they are furious. The most basic point here is that a surface lot does not belong on Washington St. period! Find a planner here to state otherwise. This zoning board has let the public down big time!


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