The Hoboken City Council will vote on a revised Monarch project deal with Ironstate Development that would potentially bring more open space and Department of Public Works site changes.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“Not only will this newly revised settlement preserve and protect our waterfront from development, it also adds almost 1.5 acres of public, open space in West Hoboken that would have otherwise been developed as a residential building,” Mayor Ravi Bhalla said in a joint statement.
“This deal is a win-win-win for Hoboken: preserving our waterfront, adding open space and adding commercial retail space while revitalizing an area of downtown Hoboken.”
The proposed agreement notes that Ironstate’s obligation to transfer 1.4 acres of undeveloped land at 8th and Monroe Streets to the city replaces the previous requirement of Ironstate to build the City a new municipal garage at 256 Observer Highway.
This revision was mutually agreed to by both parties, revising an aspect of the plan that prevented both sides from moving forward.
Furthermore, the city and Ironstate will conduct an environmental review of the land at 8th and Monroe in partnership with Ironstate prior to the adoption of a Redevelopment Agreement.
The revised parameters of an anticipated Redevelopment Agreement at 256 Observer Highway would include a building with ground floor retail and without a municipal garage.
Additionally, it would have no increase in density above what is permitted for in the current Municipal Garage Redevelopment Plan. The city would also receive a transfer of the Monarch land from Ironstate.
At one point, the Monarch project was going to be two, 11-story towers on the Mile Square City waterfront in the 2nd Ward, though the city contested the project every step of the way dating back to the administration of former Mayor Dawn Zimmer.
After the city lost their appeal in front of the New Jersey Supreme Court in May, the city began negotiating a settlement.
The council had previously approved the first phase of a two-step process back in August 2019.
This prior deal allowed the DPW development rights to be sold Ironstate, the city would buy the Monarch site, and Hoboken would pay for the construction costs of a new DPW garage located in the 1st Ward.
As the mayor noted, the new agreement also allows a temporary DPW garage will be built in the 5th Ward – near the Northwest Park and funded by Ironstate – and a permanent DPW garage will be constructed at a location to be determined.
The city would have to pay for the costs associated with a new DPW garage, which does not have a preliminary price estimate yet.
The Fund for a Better Waterfront, along with Council members Mike Russo, Emily Jabbour, and Phil Cohen have all voiced their support for the plan.
“Instead of residential towers on a pier jutting into the Weehawken Cove, we now can look forward to a small park but more importantly an opportunity to complete a continuous, public park for the entire length of Hoboken’s riverfront,” said FBW Executive Director Ron Hine.
“This area was transformed by the addition of park spaces at 7th and Jackson – seeing how heavily utilized these spaces have already been, particularly during COVID, demonstrates that residents are seeking more open space. This is a big win for the neighborhood and all of Hoboken,” Jabbour added.
On the other hand, 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco said that while the settlement is long overdue and he is happy the DPW site will no longer be located in the 1st Ward at any point, he said there are other obvious flaws.
“Currently, the garage is planned to be temporarily housed next to the new northwest park with no plans yet in place for a new, permanent garage. Further, the affordable housing component is woefully inadequate at a mere 11% and if the mayor and his allies are serious about affordability, this is our opportunity to make a meaningful difference,” he said.
“This has been a decade long community conversation and while I support the agreement, I think it is fair to ask for more time to receive community feedback before a vote tomorrow.”
The Hoboken council will convene tomorrow evening at 7 p.m. via Zoom and the meeting will stream live on the city’s Facebook page.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with new information.