Hoboken council reintroduces, OKs first reading of amended rail yard redevelopment plan


In a fairly unexpected move, the Hoboken City Council voted to reintroduce, and then okayed, the first reading of an amended rail yard plan at last night’s meeting.

An artist’s rendering of the Hoboken Yard Redevelopment Plan from May 2018. Instagram photo.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“I wanted to know: we’re moving [ordinance] back to 1st reading?,” 3rd Ward Councilman Mike Russo asked Council President Jen Giattino.

“On December 4th,” she answered.

“Why aren’t we doing that tonight?,” Russo continued.

“It was removed from the agenda because members of the public were told that there would be a subcommittee meeting and they’d have a chance to speak about it again,” Giattino explained.

A hot button issue during this past election cycle, the first reading of a similar, but different, ordinance had first reading approved back in September.

That incarnation of the plan, which has existed in some form since 2005 and had another draft approved in 2014, calls for an 18-story, 300-foot tall (up from 200-feet) office building, as well as a 28-story building that was initially expected to be 24 stories tall.

However, it was recently amended after residents expressed public, traffic, and environmental concerns at a public forum last month.

Arguably the most significant change is that a 944,000 square-foot area previously designated as “future potential development” has now been roped off as a “no build zone” for NJ Transit – who owns the 80 acres of land – due to the $230 million Rebuild by Design flood prevention project.

Also, the 10 percent affordable housing designation has been changed to a minimum requirement (the 10 percent wasn’t defined before) and the Redevelopment Agreement will require a shadow study.

1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco, who vowed at the October 15th meeting to address the concerns brought forward, said that he felt it would make sense to vote on first reading since the public would have at least two more opportunities to have their voices heard before the council votes on second reading.

“So council president, since I raised that concern, it’s been brought to me attention by LCOR, the designated developer, that they’re willing to hold a robust community meeting in the train terminal on November 25th. The administration has further agreed to send out a Nixle alert, alerting them of this community meeting,” he said.

Also noting that the planning board would meet before the next council meeting, on December 3rd and December 4th, respectively, DeFusco further stated he saw no reason to delay the second reading until around mid-February.

Giattino still expressed discontent with such a move since members of the public who wanted to speak on the matter had left, with other residents not attending since they were told the agenda item was removed.

Nevertheless, Russo made a motion to override Giattino’s decision to remove the agenda item, which DeFusco seconded. The measure passed 5-3(1), with DeFusco, Russo, and Council members-at-Large Jim Doyle, Vanessa Falco, and Emily Jabbour voting yes.

Giattino, 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, and 5th Ward Councilman Peter Cunningham vote no, while 4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos abstained.

The subsequent vote on 1st reading of the measure was later approved by a 6-3 vote, with Giattino, Fisher, and Cunningham voting no.

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  1. I’m glad to see the strong and clear no build zone language replacing the scary “development to be named later” language. The old language made it sound like LCOR was still interfering in the RBD planning process trying to get more development down the road. It also could have made it look to the State as if the City was on board with that idea.

    The upzones here only make sense if this is all that will be built -ever. And the State needs to know that the City wants the RBD alignment to be clearly and irrevocably final so RBD can move forward without delays caused by LCOR’s continued lobbying for changes in hopes of getting more development.

    There are two other relatively small changes I personally think should be made to the Plan. The LEED incentive that was removed should be reinstated as a requirement for the added building heights, since making this development less environmentally friendly in this day and age makes zero public policy sense.

    And since LCOR justified the dramatic reduction in parking by saying folks who live in small units near train stations don’t have cars, and that actually makes sense, the residential building should be limited to small units – maybe 600 SF maximum.

    This stuff could be added in a redeveloper agreement but it would be far better to include it in the plan. Unfortunately, that would probably require another first reading and I doubt there will be an appetite to make changes now that can be done later.

    • Bhalla needs to clean house starting with Vijay who’s nasty tone and obnoxious threats turn people off.
      Then he needs to reign in John Allen who plays Mister Nice Guy while he has Jason Freeman slither around doing dirty work.
      And finally, put Stan on call block, stop dragging dawn out of the attic and never hire that Rhode Island fake endorsement writer for any election ever again.

        • He’s not here writing that duff moron. DeFusco people don’t like Ravi. HobokenHorse is obviously deep in your head. He reported the antics of John Allen with his pals doing hit jobs at council meetings. Doubt he’d call Allen Mister Nice Guy ever.

          It’s a shame, the election is over and you need to attack the guy who stood up for Hoboken with others and made a positive difference.

    • For Bhalla to make it through the next two years and have any measure of a chance to be re-elected, he has to get rid of that nasty spokesman Vijay.
      The country can thank Vijay for AOC and Ravi can thank Vijay for this wipe out.

  2. Ever since this re-started recently its smelled funny. It feels like there’s something more going on behind the scenes here than just developer $ flowing. Also, it doesn’t seem like anyone other than the mayor & some of the city council want this to actually happen…is there ANYONE who supports this, even after the changes noted by LindaLou? Opposition seemed quite strong at the public meeting.

    I say that as someone who would like to see the eyesore buildings and tracks torn down or out of sight!

    • Of course, you smelled a rat because this was sprung against the public like a dead rat.
      See who stood up for the people of Hoboken and who is making the back room deal with zero transparency?

      This scam against the public is exactly what people fought against in Hoboken for many years. They’re cashing in, fighting to get the big developer money. Ravi Bhalla is wasting no time laying his claim to all of it.

      If this massive redevelopment is so wonderful why is the public being blindsided with a vote not even on the agenda. Forget Lindastan’s propaganda, he’s as transparently revealed as this vote.

      None of it could have taken place AGAINST the public without Jim Doyle and Emily Jabbour giving the middle finger to the people of Hoboken. Remember who acted in the light for Hoboken: Jen Giattino, Peter Cunningham and Tiffanie Fisher. They refused to sit by with this mockery against Hoboken people.

      What is born of deceit holds no decency and Ravi Bhalla and his coven just gave birth to Rosemary’s baby.

        • DeFusco is not the mayor commissioning the Ravi NY Transit Redevelopment.
          Damn stupid Ravibots and their propaganda never stop. You got crushed and now Ravi is pushing through this garbage stabbing the public in the back again.

          Least you think anyone is forgetting, it couldn’t have happened with the protest by Council President Jen Giattino, Peter Cunningham and Tiffanie Fisher without the cold-blooded drowning of any transparency by Jim Doyle and Emily.

          The Jim Doyle vote is particularly galling to overrule the Chair, Giattino so the stabbing motion went right through the back into the heart of every person Hoboken. Nice work Jim.

          Here we go with the Ravibot lies and deflections. Good job HCV. They have nowhere to hide. The votes are recorded.

          • Remember Jim Doyle and his wife Leah Healy have loved redevelopment ever since she and her ex firm was retained by Dave Roberts to work on that awful Ursa Tarragon plan for NW Hoboken In an attempt to make it better and stop Raia from being the only designated developer … money spent and no ability to improve the plan … then that firm is still working for Hoboken
            Earning millions and we keep losing
            Losing many times and soon expect more court loses I’m not sure… but what is sure is the Possible millions That firm has earned while we end up with a plaza and a 450 apartments tower over our neighbors in JC heights and a giant PILOT
            Does Mr Doyle and spouse have a 401k or referral fees still trickling in from that firm ?

      • You have no idea what you’re talking about. DeFusco and Ramos have met with the developers all along in the process and have been completely aware of status every step of the way.

        Satanic spawn? No wonder no one takes you seriously.

    • The City has a legal responsibility to create a financially viable plan. Since RBD materially changed the footprint and made the old plan impossible to build, re-planning the zone became legally necessary. Had the City failed to do that NJT would likely have the right to do it for us and I don’t think anybody in favor of smart development wants that to happen given the history of this project. Remember, NJT started with a 9 million SF proposal in 2008 they said they could and would force down our throats. We’re now looking at only 1.3 million – 1 million less than we had already agreed to accept in 2014.

      From any objective standpoint that’s a pretty huge win for the limited smart development crowd.

      As Mayor Zimmer explained to the naysayors in 2014, just saying no to redevelopment altogether was not an option the City had, given NJT’s commitment to building something and the need to upgrade the station. So it was necessary to take control of the process and create the best Plan possible for the City under the circumstances.

      The added building heights and use change make sense given the reduced footprint and cost of the upgrades. Those who oppose it should say what financially viable Plan they WOULD support since just saying “no” is not an option.

      • Saying “no” is certainly an option. Saying yes to a study of what is economically viable and traffic-wise viable is absolutely an option.

        That’s not what Ravi’s controllers in big development Soprano State land want.
        So forget the NJT scare tactics, that crap won’t fly a decade later. Nice try though.

        • You forgot to say this is DeFusco, Ramos and Russo’s plan as the appointed representatives of the City Council working for a year with the developer LOCOR.
          Falco, Fisher, Giattino and Cunningham made that happen.
          I understand that does not fit in with your all consuming hatred Bhalla.

      • I have zero faith in the city council, the mayor’s office, OR NJ Transit to deliver a project of this scope. Hard to imagine 3 less capable entities driving something so important. Yet again, we all lose.

  3. LOL, Jen and Tiffany definitely played for suckers by DeFusco. They were all supportive of one another when they ran on the same Vision Media-sponsored ticket but Mikey D immediately throws both of them under the bus as soon as the election is over. Golly gee, oh my, didn’t see that one coming, nope.

    • They didn’t run on any ticket. There was only one ticket: the Ravi – Stronger Foundations endorsed council ticket and it got slaughtered.

      Jen Giattino and Tiffanie Fisher didn’t get played. They disagreed with Ravi and DeFusco sucking up to special interest money all along before and after the NJT vote. Peter Cunningham joined with them weeks ago in pushing this off the agenda since Ravi Bhalla kept the whole thing a secret from the public. But you knew (and endorsed) that.

      Here, once again it’s Peter, Jen, and Tiffanie who disagreed with this transparent scam on Hoboken and fought it. That’s what good government people do. Ravi and DeFusco are in a war for the special interest money. Tell us why one is so great and the other is not. LMAO!

      • When did Jen,Tiff and Peter ever publicly disagree with Mike ?
        Did they get played by Mike or were they playing along with him and now after the election they want to pretending to have been against.

        • Hey “Ron,” they do all the time. Did you notice Peter Cunningham, Jen Giattino and Tiffanie Fisher were the lone votes against this monstrosity of an action? It’s in today’s story. The Ravibot Goebels types, what can we do with these jagoffs?

          It’s not the first time either. Why don’t you look up the votes on how the Ravi Bhalla NJT Redevelopment was stopped twice BEFORE the election. Go on and thank Peter, Jen and Tiffanie for their good government stance.

          The first rule when you open your mouth is to know the shot. You apparently don’t.
          Go directly to trial and do not pass GO.

          • I noticed that Peter Cunningham, Jen Giattino and Tiffanie Fisher went deaf, dumb and blind when they needed Michael Defusco and Ruben Ramos to stay on the City Council.

            Now it appears DeFusco and Ramos want to advance their mayoral ambitions and clearly don’t need Giattino and Fisher who might run as spoilers against them. Will the Councilwomen after being betrayed and blindsided speak up or return to being enablers.

            Your Nazi references and insults makes me think you are a very disturbed individual.

          • I never heard Jen and Tiff say anything bad about Mikey while they were in cohoots with him.
            They might start now that Mikey fuscoed them over on the this whole NJT thing.

          • No, they only pointed out DeFusco’s excessive contributions in 2017 more than two years ago. They’ve voted on opposite sides many times but it’s clear the Ravibot stupidity isn’t ending any time soon. Is anyone fooled by their desperate ugliness on behalf of Ravi?

            They’re addicted to divisiveness and fabrications and want to destroy the good people fighting for Hoboken.

  4. Fear mongering coming from lindastan about the NJT plan. Oh, oh, the sky is falling; the sky is falling and the towers are rising. We MUST approve massive towers or NJT will build them even bigger. I call BS; where’s the threat? Let’s see NJT put that one in writing.

    Guess that’s the excuse that Jim Doyle is using for skirting transparency at the cc meeting.

  5. The election is over, and it is truly unfortunate that the stupid political games are continuing. Jen, Tiffanie and Peter all voted “yes” for the original 1st reading and made no motion to table. Why was it OK with them to pass a worse Plan on 1st reading in September (with no public process done or planned) and it’s suddenly not OK to have a 1st reading of an improved plan, informed by a past public meeting, with yet another public meeting scheduled?

    Perhaps they learned from their mistake – IMHO the September 1st reading SHOULD have been tabled until after a public process was completed. But we are now in a different place with a public meeting held and lots of public discussion – this is no longer remotely under the radar.

    Voting “yes” then and “no” now without any explanation reconciling the votes is completely inconsistent and, without acknowledgement of error, pretty hypocritical.

    If Tiff, Jen and Peter oppose the plan as presented, they should say so, say why, and say what they WOULD support instead of trying to cut a backroom deal with DeFusco to try to delay the process. If, at a second reading, they go on and on about not liking the process without saying what substantive changes they think should be made for them to get to “yes”, we will know that for them this is all about “anti-development” politics not substance.

    If I, a mere anonymous poster on a blog, can make productive, substantive suggestions, is it too much to expect Councilpeople who are far more informed than I to do the same.

    As for DeFusco, he is what he is. An unscrupulous, ambitious politician who could care less about public policy except as a means to further his personal ambitions, and who thinks pandering to the development community is a necessary component for a achieving those ambitions.

    Anybody who thinks cutting secret deals with DeFusco will benefit anybody but Mike, or that he will live up to them if he decides it’s not to his benefit, is both a sucker and a fool. People like Fisher, Giattino, Ramos and Russo, all of whom reportedly want to be Mayor themselves, need to wake up to the fact that empowering DeFusco is generally bad public policy and also does not improve their own prospects of success.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see DeFusco offer a backroom deal to alternate as CP with Fisher, like the deal struck two years ago between Giattino and Ramos. Hopefully, Mike’s double crossing ways will give Fisher pause, since a backroom deal like that would be IMHO corrupt, bad for Hoboken, and politically stupid for Fisher.

    • No one cares what crap you’re shoveling LindaStan. You don’t know jack and you’re the central culprit in much of the ugly lies and smears in the last two elections back to that Ravi Terror Flier.

      Go ahead and tell us how you knew nothing about it. Make us laugh harder.

      There’s not a shade of difference between DeFusco and Ravi with their double-dealing in pandering to the big development crowd.

      So enjoy the karma from all the crap you shoveled and you can eat our grits!

    • Stan Grossbard and Dawn Zimmer are washed up… Nobody needs Mayor 30%-47% anymore.
      Zimmer dodged a bullet a few times, she should go back to shilling light bulbs to big developers.

  6. Councilmen Ramos, DeFusco and Russo were the representatives of the Hoboken City Council that negotiated the plan with the NJT designated developer LOCOR for many months. The plan was never a surprise to them.

  7. LindaStan-

    28 stories of 600 sq Ft apartments will have people who have cars. The NJ proposal Ammended makes an assumption that is not valid.

    But that is beside the point. The Zimmer plan of 2014 was a good plan. it passed 8-1. Why don’t we simply go with that plan? At least that plan had commercial which actually helps our tax base rather than small 1Brs which add to the tax burden.

    Even with No Develppment Clause in place they can amend the plan at later date. I call your defense of Ravi’s plan the equivalent of eating a shit sandwich and saying wow that tastes great!

        • HR – any planner will confirm for you the reverse correlation between unit size and cars. Perhaps 600 SF is too big – maybe it should be 400 SF. But simply denying the existence of the correlation displays ignorance of some pretty universally accepted data and is also inconsistent with common sense.

          This plan has a mix of commercial and residential just like the 2014 plan did. The 2014 Plan had no more of a guaranty that the commercial would be built as planned than this one does. Opposing the plan on that basis is, to put it simply, dishonest.

          As noted in my previous post, it’s pretty obvious that saying, as you have, that the project should just be built in accordance with the 2014 Plan is nonsense. The RBD alignment has rendered that Plan impossible to build so saying we should stick to it is either stupid, dishonest or both.

          It’s also kind of dumb to say, as you have, that the change in language to create a “no build zone” instead of “potential future development” is meaningless because it could always be changed by the City Council later.

          Until the project is actually built, anything can obviously be changed, as could any provision of every redevelopment plan ever passed. This change in language from the previous draft is huge, because it makes clear to the DEP, for the very first time since Mayor Zimmer left office, that Hoboken’s Mayor and City Council does not want to change the alignment to facilitate as much development as possible.

          That messaging is extremely important and it will make it far more likely that the project will not be further delayed by LCOR’s mischief.

          Completing the RBD flood protection measure ASAP is not only critical to the safety of our community, it is the only irrevocable way of making sure the “proposed future development” doesn’t rear it’s ugly head again.

          There are sensible provisions that could be added to the Plan and/or included in the future Redevelopment Agreement to address real concerns. I have previously mentioned a couple of them. In addition to my previous suggestions, a provision could be added that the commercial building needs to be completed first. That would address the concern about whether the commercial building and the associated train station upgrades would ever actually be built.

          As I said before, the election is over. This is an important project that needs to be addressed in a serious, honest and thoughtful way. After the last election, the political nonsense not only didn’t abate, it accelerated. Hopefully, for Hoboken’s sake, we won’t see that irresponsible and toxic pattern repeat itself.

          This continued lunacy on this thread does not fill me with hope, but hope springs eternal.

        • I agreed the plan that Mayor Zimmer proposed five years ago had asked for more commercial space. However the economy and many other things have changed. The inclusion of the RBD flood wall has greatly reduced the entire scope of the Rail Yard redevelopment area. The market for commercial space has dried up while residential has remained viable. Like it or not if the development with all the give back asks is not profitable for LOCOR they will walk away. That may be OK with some no development at all faction, having the area around the NJT/PATH terminal remain in a sorry state for many years to come is not in the best interest of the residents of Hoboken. The developers have said that even if the preliminary plan is approved now, it will be at least two years before a final plan can be acted upon.

          If she can wave a magic wand and somehow change the reality of the constraints on the project that would be great.

  8. Lindalou is just a blowhard. He just suggested that voting on 1st reading for an ordinance that is on the agenda is the same thing as voting on 1st reading for an ordinance that was removed from the agenda. He also stated that it is some sort of political game for council members to not want to vote on an ordinance for first reading that was removed from the agenda, particularly in this case when it is a first reading for something as city altering as the NJT redevelopment plan.

    Looks like he’s also pushing for Russo as city council president. I hope Jim or Emily or Phil nominate Russo to be council president. We know they’ll all vote for him. It will be a riot reading the grafix justification of that.

  9. Defusco only introduced the inevitable. The action needed to be taken so THE PUBLIC can see the latest proposal. OTHERWISE they would not be able to speak at a public meeting on this UNTIL JANUARY!

    Why table this so we can draaaaaaaaaaggggggggg it out another 4 years so some worse council can build it bigger?

    Stop kicking the railyard down the road