Calling it a historic milestone for the Mile Square City, Mayor Ravi Bhalla announced that as part of the Hilton Hotel project, the developer will provide $4.5 million in community givebacks including funding for public schools and a community center.
The developer, KMS Development Partners, says the new hotel will double the amount of hotel rooms in Hoboken, triples the amount of meeting and event space and will offer 300-plus days of public rooftop bar access annually.
Bhalla stressed that in addition to the aforementioned amenities, the hotel will be the first of its kind to be built and operated by union workers.
“I am also very proud to announce that this will be the first major construction project in North Jersey that will be union built and union operated,” he began.
“As mayor, I am committed to economic development that benefits not only the business owners but provides good, living-wage jobs for all workers. Union labor is the backbone of the nation’s economy, Hoboken’s success was built upon union workers and we will not forget where we came from.”
He then proceeded to highlight the other substantive benefits to the city and its residents, including a commitment by the developer to fund a total of $4.5 million worth of various public programs such as $200,000 towards an affordable housing trust fund, $1 million in infrastructure spending for water-mains and road improvements in the vicinity of the hotel, $1.3 million for both Hoboken Public Schools and charter schools and $2 million for the Hoboken Community Center.
As Hudson County View first reported, the initial agreement between the city and the developer didn’t include an allocation to the city’s charter schools, though the developer offered to pitch in an additional $300,000 – $100,000 for each school.
After the press conference, we asked Bhalla what led to the change.
“They initially weren’t part of the agreement because we had difficulty coming to an agreement with the developer to include them in the $1 million endowment [for public schools], but with the generosity of the developer they agreed as of yesterday to inject $300,000 into this agreement because I took a stand and advocated very strongly that charter schools shouldn’t be left out, charter schools are public schools and they deserve to be given support as well,” he stated.
The presidents of Hoboken’s three charter schools, Hoboken, Elysian and Hoboken Dual Language schools, applauded the interested parties coming back to the table, but expressed concern because the current process doesn’t treat charter schools with equity.
“We love Hoboken schools. We welcome any news of additional funding for public schools and public school children. Hoboken charter schools remain united. We want equality and fairness for all public school children – both district and charter alike,” they said in a statement.
“We look forward to continued conversations with the community, the Mayor and the City Council to allocate the funds in a fair and transparent manner.”
Speaking on behalf of the five-member Hilton Hotel subcommittee, 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher said in a statement she was happy with the city and developer collaborating on the significant project.
“We are happy to see that collaboration with the mayor and the developer has resulted in a 50% increase in the community giveback to $4.5 million and that the scope has been expanded to include critical infrastructure, affordable housing, and charter schools,” they said.
“Additionally, KMS also committed today to fund immediately the much needed feasibility study to officially launch the restoration project for the former YMCA so that it can be shovel-ready when the remainder of the giveback is paid after the hotel opens. This is what is possible when our city works together.”
While not in attendance, Councilman Michael DeFusco, who represents the 1st Ward, where the hotel will be built, also said he was happy with the collaboration, but still took the mayor to task for not securing more monies to improve infrastructure in the vicinity.
“I am greatly disappointed that infrastructure funds dedicated to mitigating the impact of this project were not more substantial,” he began.
” … It’s difficult to square Mayor Bhalla’s heated rhetoric about our poor water infrastructure, just a few short weeks ago, with this current redevelopment agreement, which adds nearly 350 new rooms to half a city block, but only puts $1 million towards infrastructure.”
Bhalla ended the press conference by imploring the city council to vote on the new hotel agreement at their next meeting on October 17.
The full press conference streamed live on our Facebook page and can be viewed below: