Hoboken officials tout the benefits of ‘state of the art’ public safety HQ & municipal complex


Hoboken officials touted the benefits of a “state of the art” public safety headquarters and municipal complex proposal, an ambitious plan for the northern part of the city that would be developed at 1501 Adams St., the current Poggi Press site.

Photo via Zoom.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

During a Zoom call last night, Mayor Ravi Bhalla echoed the sentiment from his State of the City Address, noting that first responders deserve to have facilities that are updated and of the highest quality after working through two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We could really create something visionary,” he also said, with Business Administrator Jason Freeman later indicating that the initial proposal by property owner Charles Poggi’s team would’ve had nearly 600 units and cost $22.5 million to have a Department of Public Works garage at the site.

Due to the city’s Monarch settlement with Ironstate Development, the city needs a new DPW site by November 2024.

The current DPW facility at 265 Observer Highway is expected to be developed into a mixed-use development with roughly 30,000 square feet of commercial space and 360 residential units, including 40 affordable housing units by Ironstate.

Acting Fire Chief Anthony Peskens and Acting Police Chief Steven Aguiar briefly spoke as well, with Peskens stating that current fire HQ at 201 Jefferson St. is 107 years old and was originally built to accommodate horse-drawn carriages.

“Our office and storage space does not meet current demands … we have no shared dispatch or emergency center,” added Aguiar, who said that they are so cramped at their 106 Hudson St. station that their meeting and training room had to be converted into the women’s locker room.

Department of Environmental Services Director Jennifer Gonzalez also said having many of the city’s departments in the same building would streamline services, especially during an emergency.

John Nastasi, of Nastasi Architects, echoed a similar sentiment during his presentation that looked at a preliminary draft rendering.

“Whenever you cluster these department togethers, there’s tremendous efficiency with shares services … I could see each of these departments being able to host educational events,” he explained.

The municipal complex would include a new municipal parking garage with approximately 405 public spaces, 144 municipal spaces, a 118,700-square foot DPW garage, as well as multiple indoor and outdoor community spaces such as a 5,500 square foot library, 18,500 square foot field house, 42,000-square foot recreation center and roof community garden.

The facility would also include the office of emergency management, a court room, and council chambers.

During and question and answer session where members of the public were randomly broken out into groups, resident Justina Debeuck asked why the fire department is facing 15th Street instead of 16th Street.

“The part of that that went into the decision making is that DPW has construction grade trucks going in and out quite a bit, we feel that’s going to be a very active part of the building, so that’s on 16th Street. The Fire Department is much less active than Department of Public Works,” replied Nastasi.

When asked about the size and scope of the plan, Gonzalez said this didn’t come together overnight.

“I wouldn’t call it sudden notice, this is something we’ve been working on diligently since December. We’ve been in discussions with the property owner for almost two years. It is our full intention to acquire the property with a fair offer,” she explained.

She added that she anticipated a full budget for the project being released this spring.

While the city council approved the ability to use eminent domain on the Poggi Press site earlier this month (by a tally of 5-4), a related $44 million bond ordinance that cleared 5-4 last month still awaits second reading.

All bond ordinances require six votes to pass and Gonzalez told HCV that a temporary location would likely be necessary if the council voted the project down.

“I don’t like thinking about that scenario, but if that happens, we’d have to look at other locations for at least a temporary public works facility,” she began.

“We’d have to look at other sites that we thought would be parks … We certainly hope that this will be our permanent location … We will certainly plan for a Plan B but it will be difficult.”

4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos, one of the council members who voted against eminent domain and the bonding ordinances, made it crystal clear that he would not be changing his bonding vote the second time around.

“This might be the worst urban planning in the history of urban planning. We spent years creating a plan that would allow for the property owners to help fund municipal needs and public uses and we’ve totally thrown that work out the window without even making an effort to work with the four property owners to create an area that can be vibrant and unique,” he told HCV.

5th Ward Councilman Phil Cohen, whose ward is where the project is located, blasted Ramos’ take on the project.

“Councilman Ramos knocks Hoboken’s plans to support our tireless frontline workers and add long-desired services to the 5th Ward like an uptown Library Branch while adding zero residential density to an entire City Block, but he offers no alternatives,” he began.

“It’s a stark contrast to when the Councilman Ramos’s developer buddies propose dropping three 17-story towers into the 5th Ward, because then he can’t do enough. We are fortunate that Mayor Bhalla and our Public Safety community is engaging the community-at-large in order to plan for the long term needs of current and future generations of residents without overburdening the 5th Ward with unnecessary overdevelopment, even if that’s what Councilman Ramos prefers.”

In a statement issued just before last night’s virtual meeting, Poggi continued to take a stand in opposition of the concept.

” … How much is this project going to cost? The mayor threw out a number in his March 10 address of $40 million. That is unrealistic. The lack of transparency that accompanies this project is astonishing,” he said.

“Somewhere between November 2021 and January 2022, the entire concept of moving the city’s public works garage to 1501 Adams Street morphed into what is now what I speculate to be a $150 million project and no more than a handful of insiders knew anything about it. How did that happen, and why did it happen?”

Additionally, the city is soliciting community feedback on the project here.


Editor’s note: This story was updated with a comment from 4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos and 5th Ward Councilman Phil Cohen.

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  1. The city’s architect presented a rendering? A rendering is a sketch not an architectural plan. It’s the kind of thing Mr. Nastase could draw on the back of a napkin while eating dinner.

    This is a massive proposal that would likely cost over 200 million to build not counting the land acquisition costs that will be at least double the city’s low-ball rigged appraisal. And that assumed that the city will even be able to use eminent domain which is not a given after the screw ups in the Southwest.

    There’s also zero chance that this project could be completed before date the city has agreed to be out of the existing garage.

    Please Independent Council Members – just say no. Without detailed architectural plans and realistic cost estimate this ought to be treated as barely an idea not a project ready for bonding.

  2. Like the failled ultra luxury boondoggle high school plan the public is shown pretty pictures and not given what it will really cost them. They still refuse to honest with the public.

    It is unfortunate Councilman Cohen is more interested in promoting an unrealistic political agenda to advance his own, rather than do what is fiscally responsible and in the best interest of the residents of Hoboken.

  3. The mayor and his Mini-Me Phil Cohen want to spend money like drunken sailors. First, the ridiculously expensive proposed high school (which they strongly supported) and now this. Perhaps they think this is Southampton, Greenwich, Beverly Hills, or Malibu. It’s not, and including a little fiscal discipline in their political agenda to reward their developer and union supporters would be welcome. Oh, and maybe make some serious progress on Rebuild by Design after almost 10 years, something residents aren’t paying. Thanks Mayor Zimmer – your chosen successor is more like the Old Guard than Reform.

  4. Lots of good ideas here- but I believe we need to view these projects in total, not as a series of one offs; school, public safety complex, municipal garage, community center proposal – all good in theory. When taken together, however, what will they mean to our quality of life/traffic patterns in the near term and what kind of tax burden will we be passing along? How many additional employees will be required to staff these buildings? What is the long term plan for the Jubilee
    Center and can it be used to fill these needs? If the Cannabis debacle has taught us anything, it should be that we need to ask these questions earlier in the process.

  5. constantly spending on the impractical.looking to bond or support other bonds that are even more impractical.hundreds of thousands of dollars on created jobs and healthy raises all around.when this tax and spend nonsense hits the fan they will go after the the employees they already look down on while blamimg them and whatever or who ever else they can come up with because ifthe highest office in the land can away with fibs constantly you know they will too.when they screw up its always someone elses fault

  6. Never forget the “Hoboken 26”: employees laid off by the City of Hoboken on May 7, 2020, including 16 long-time employees who were forced to retire on May 1, 2020 and more who were demoted and received significant pay reductions.


    $27.2 million in COVID relief has been received by the City since and hiring has continued. No employees have returned. But new employees have been hired and have replaced those who are gone. Gone and forgotten by those currently running City Hall.


    It is simply disgusting that the City of Hoboken treated its employees in such a manner and disgraceful that there has been no effort to help those who were forced to end their longtime careers, kicked to the streets and those forced to take a demotion and pay cut – especially in the middle of a pandemic.


    The layoffs were targeted against specific employees. The plan was conceived under a pretense of “budgetary issues”, then under the pretense of COVID. But the huge surplus maintained by the City bailed out the budget in 2020 and 2021, and hiring has continued thereafter and many raises have been given since.

    The layoffs were primarily an attempt at “Union Busting” as those targeted were almost entirely in the Supervisor’s union, whose membership was cut in half. The City continues to try to cut remaining members of the union by designating certain member employees as “management”.

    Disgraceful. Never forget the “Hoboken 26”. They are your friends and neighbors. They are proud of their decades-long commitment to Hoboken and the service to our community.

    Despite being diminished and treated so dishonestly by their hometown government in place now, they have to believe that a better day for our City will come.

    They need to get past how the City affected their families financially with such callous disregard, while replacing many who are gone with new hires, often with higher salaries.



    Hoboken used to be compassionate. Many residents are saddened at the actions taken to target specific employees. They have not forgotten what was done to our friends and neighbors. Who will stand up for them?

  7. Please stop with the holier than thou crap.
    Does ken Ferrante really need or want Stick Romano – the 50k per year public safety advisor – to advise him? Maybe about hitting on chicks but sure as heck not about public safety.

    • Maybe Stick will help Kenny get dates since Annette dumped him Ken just hasn’t been himself on Twitter… we sure miss his sports scores and sports chat live from police HQ
      And who will News 12 and PIX 11 go to when they want another negative read piece on Hoboken

      Ferrante actually believes he could be Mayor.

      Hoboken will never elect a person making 300k while living in affordable housing paying less than most people pay for their condo and parking fees at Maxwell Place

      Sorry Kenny… you’ll never be Mayor

  8. That’s crazy, there are more important things to fix, oh how the pot holes streets an the homeless. I hope my tax money goes to better work projects than this out rage project.