The Hoboken Planning Board approved a completeness review of a 27-story building that will be the cornerstone of the city’s rail yard redevelopment plan at last night’s meeting.
By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View
Observer Highway Urban Renewal LLC is the developer, a subsidiary of the the development corporation LCOR, and NJ Transit currently owns the roughly 339,219-foot property – which includes rail lines, a parking lot, as well as related structures and improvements.
Upon completion, the building would be 280 feet tall with 386 units, 20 percent of which would be designated as affordable.
“Who had the pleasure of going through all the deeds from 1905?” Board Chair Frank Magaletta jokingly asked.
“My associate who’s observing,” project attorney Meryl Gonchar replied. Magaletta noted that he found the history fascinating, albeit time consuming.
Gonchar went on to reiterate this is part of a redevelopment plan that is a mixed-use project (residential and commercial) and that this is the first part of multiple phase endeavor.
She also pointed out that there will be a number of amenities for residents, along with stormwater improvements.
“There’s a few disclosures that were not complete. It’s an easy thing to resolve. But the amount should be in there,” Magaletta stated.
“We had not yet identified who was going to be the planner. We will make sure whatever items need to be clarified will be clarified and on file,” responded Gonchar.
Hoboken Planner George Wheatle Williams added that the disclosure statements must matchup with the owners of the project. Gonchar said she wasn’t sure what was incongruent, but would follow up to make any amendments needed.
Magaletta later noted they were requesting waivers on agency approvals, lighting, and other issues.
Gonchar explained they wanted a partial waiver on streetscape issues because of it’s unique location.
“It’s a standalone structure at this point,” Magaletta noted.
“Correct,” Gonchar said.
“We have provided the information with regard to the proposed lighting. Anything that’s there is proposed to be eliminated and will not be part of any project going forward,” Gonchar added.
Magaletta noted they are in the process of securing agreements and documents that have not been submitted.
Hoboken Planning Board Counsel Nylema Nabbie said they could make it a condition of their approval.
“This redevelopment application has a slight twist compared to the other redevelopment applications,” began Planning Board Engineer Chris Nash.
“This application for redevelopment did not have a traffic study. The applicant prepared a traffic study. The onus is on the planning board to approve the traffic study. You ran calculations of the traffic through a software. Collier’s prepared the traffic study.”
“It’s not a trick question,” Magaletta interjected.
LCOR Senior Vice President Brian Barry explained that the city hired a professional who worked on it.
“Modifications were made. That traffic impact study … were both reviewed … at the time of the redevelopment agreement,” he added.
“I don’t have my traffic engineer here. I don’t know what I’m committing to. It appears a reasonable request. I’m not sure it’s a completeness issue. I don’t foresee it as a problem,” Gonchar said.
After a short back and forth, Gonchar committed to providing a copy of the study.
“I understand that NJ Transit owns the land and LCOR is going to lease it. How long is that lease going to last?” Magaletta asked.
“I don’t know if the document is finally negotiated. I am not involved in that,” Gonchar replied. Magaletta didn’t seem to think it was a big deal since he said they could double check on that later.
Ultimately, the board approved the completeness review unanimously (3-0). The plan will now go before the full planning board for a hearing.
The project is in the works for over a decade, with the city council approving the latest iteration of the redevelopment agreement with LCOR 13 month ago.
Back in December, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) came to the Mile Square City to announce $176 million in state funding for the project, which officials began referring to as Hoboken Connect.