The Hoboken Planning Board approved a 27-story building with 20 percent affordable housing units, the cornerstone of the city’s rail yard redevelopment plan, at last night’s meeting.
By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View
The developer Observer Highway Urban Renewal LLC is owned by LCOR and New Jersey Transit currently owns the 339,219-foot property. The site includes rail lines, a parking lot, and related structures.
The developer wants to build a mixed-use residential and retail 280-foot tall, 386-unit residential skyscraper, would have a first-floor lobby and resident lounge with a package room, concierge, and pet spa.
The second floor and rooftop amenity space include a fitness center, entertainment kitchen, co-working spaces, and a dining area.
“This application … does not have any variances. It’s consistent with the Hoboken Yard Redevelopment Plan,” Planner Deborah Lawler noted.
“The development would yield about 41 public school children. It’s always about the 10 percent range.”
She further explained it had been in the works for years and was stalled by the Great Recession, as well as that about 700 people would live there.
Project Attorney Meryl Gonchar noted the application was reviewed and carried during the planning board’s September 7th hearing, about a month after they granted a completeness review.
She explained there will be different ranges of affordable and low-income housing, including in the 20 percent affordable housing.
Project Manager Dan Sobieski said the plan was changed slightly to create more amenity spaces and trees.
Councilman-at-Large Jim Doyle, the council designee, recalled that there would be mass transit operating under the site.
“Correct,” Gonchar said.
Sobieski added that they want to have a rain garden on the roof to help address ongoing flooding issues in the city.
“What’s going to actually be holding the water?” Board Chair Frank Magaletta
“It will reach a certain level and then start flowing,” Sobieski replied.
“Does it just drain by evaporation?” Doyle asked.
“Correct,” Sobieski said.
Doyle asked if there is a plug to allow the roof to drain and Sobieski deferred to her architect.
“Is the reluctance to provide detention due to a physical constraint?” Board Engineer Chris Nash questioned.
Architect Paul Albano said some areas will drain quicker using valves, adding they are compartmentalizing the roof’s design to hold in the water.
Traffic Engineer Michelle Briehof explained they began a traffic study in 2016 and did it again in 2019 and 2021.
“We did start this project many years ago. That 2017 data has been the highest,” she noted.
There would be a circular road around the building with different ways in and out. Briehof said there are nearby parking garages where individuals could go and there will be no parking on site.
“It was the city’s concurrence that the parking was available. We’re not expecting a significant amount of traffic entering and exiting,” Briehof added.
Doyle noted they have many developing projects nearby competing for limited space.
“40 trips might sound like a lot of trips,” Briehof admitted.
However, she added most of the trips would be brief and that the standard for higher traffic is closer to 100 trips.
“I don’t understand. In 386 units, there will be plenty of vehicles. There’s a lot of need for cars to bring things. I don’t understand how the calculations match my intuitive sense of reality,” Commissioner Anne Lockwood argued.
Briehof said when they looked into it, 60 percent of those would probably take mass transit exclusively.
Magaletta said they could use ride shares too. However, he was also very skeptical of their projected traffic numbers.
Briehof explained they reviewed traffic for two years for their report.
“I think if you get three engineers looking at something, you get three different answers,” Nash argued.
He was skeptical it would decrease traffic.
Briehof noted their Hoboken Rail Yard redevelopment project includes improvements like the Warrington Plaza opening to improve traffic, which should help.
Nash noted tweaking nearby traffic signals could help as well.
“It’s a site that has no parking. So, applying the trip generation, it’s very difficult,” he added.
Magaletta was curious about traffic light adjustments.
Briehof said they would design the traffic light to increase flow.
Doyle said their transportation plan complies with the redevelopment plan.
“You mention that the assumption is that 60 percent of the people will use mass transit. That’s you’re going to ask them to choose to be a car person or a mass transit person?” Lockwood asked.
Briehof explained the 60 percent number was developed by working with the city planner, the city transportation analyst, and Brightview Engineering.
Gonchar ultimately called it a transformational project and noted their intense attention to detail in her closing statement.
“This will be an enhancement to this part of the city,” she added.
Additionally, Commissioner Ryane Peene praised the project for its environmental considerations and affordable housing.
“It’s certainly the most affordable housing we’ve gotten at 20 percent. We’ve been sweating the details. I think it’s notable nobody is here objecting,” Doyle stated.
“It’s a lot of affordable housing for a community that really needs it. We’re famous for ultra-gentrification. It’s a terrible thing to be famous for,” Magaletta added.
The Hoboken Planning Board approved the measure unanimously (7-0).
Approval conditions included six extra bike spaces, capturing as much stormwater as possible, and compliance with the previously agreed upon affordable housing.