The Hoboken City Council could decide on reaching a Monarch settlement with Ironstate Development that would also determine the immediate future of the Department of Public Works garage tonight, though elected leaders are clearly split on the sense of urgency here.
According to Mayor Ravi Bhalla, the proposed redeveloper agreement heading before the council transfer both the Monarch property and 800 Monroe St. to the city for open, public space.
Additionally, this would add 30,000 square feet of commercial retail space, along with 321 market rate units residential units and 40 affordable units, to the DPW garage site at 256 Observer Highway, which would allow the city to stay at that for location for up to three years – with a $500,000 incentive if they vacate the space in two years or less.
He also indicated that the city would allow 30 additional units at the DPW garage in exchange for giving the city ample time to find a permanent relocation, likely to be somewhere in the city’s North End.
“To date, this is the most important set of votes before the City Council on this matter,” the mayor said in a prepared statement.
“If the agreement and redevelopment plan amendment were to be rejected by the City Council, it is certainly possible that Ironstate could move forward with development on the Monarch site in the near future.”
The deal would also net the city $2.5 million to even out the difference in assessed value between the Ironstate Properties and 256 Observer Highway, as well as another $1,000,00,000 for the city to clean up and improve the Monarch property.
The city appeared poised to adopt a 430-unit DPW garage proposal from Bijou Properties, which included a City Hall Annex, last month, but the council ultimately ended up voting to bring them on as the redeveloper after they indicated the would not support that plan.
Discussions are ongoing as the city evaluates their options at this site and this came after the council adopted an amended North End Redevelopment Plan in March.
As for the Monarch project, the council approved a settlement that had different terms in February, which initially included moving the temporary DPW site near Northwest Park, which the governing body amended after the concept was panned by residents.
The initial plan, which had been tied up in litigation for years, called for two 11-story buildings in front of the Hudson Tea Building on Hoboken’s waterfront in the 2nd Ward.
2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher said that Bhalla’s remarks were misleading and that there are still lingering questions that need answering.
“Oh my God the sky is falling for the umpteenth time! I am happy to see we get more time, but the question remains – what is the appraised value of the DPW garage site and do we need to have such an out of scale development without union labor on that site?,” she asked.
“Most likely the answer is no. If the fear mongering politics require public pushback for the best outcome – like we did last time with the North End – then I will continue to push for the best outcome for Hoboken.”
Furthermore, in a memo sent to the city clerk’s office this afternoon meant to be distributed to the administration, 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco said that he’d like to see a few made prior to the meeting, otherwise the vote should be postponed.
“Colleagues, I am in favor of advancing the very important development project at the current DPW Garage, but do need the Mayor to respect my neighbor’s concerns and implement a seemingly simple fix — remove one story from the residential streets (Park and Willow) and move that corresponding bulk to Observer Highway, where it will be less impactful to our residential streets,” he wrote.
“In doing so we will respect the prevailing neighborhood height without setting a new height precedent, which future developers will undoubtedly follow. These changes can be made today with your support and voted on tonight, or we can simply delay the vote one meeting and advance it at our next meeting.”
Additionally, 5th Ward Councilman Phil Cohen said he supports the settlement, noting that it’s “a win-win” given that the city is getting more money and more time, stating that his constituents appreciate that.
“I trust the Bhalla administration to be doing a good job negotiating on our behalf and we’re on a relatively tight timeline, so this looks like a great outcome.”
The Hoboken City Council will convene via Zoom this evening at 7 p.m.