Hoboken’s western edge plan aims to include flood mitigation, affording housing

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An engineer for Hoboken’s Western Edge Redevelopment Plan told residents that the project currently includes flood mitigation, affording housing and possibly even an extension to the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail during a public meeting on Thursday.

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By Katherine Guest/Hudson County View

Since municipal officials designated the Western Edge as an “area in need of redevelopment” in 2007, Hoboken city officials agreed the Redevelopment Plan is not only a necessary project, but economically feasible.

“In 2007, the planning board studied the area to determine if it met the qualifications needed for redevelopment under state statute and it concluded that it did and made a recommendation to the governing body, to the city council, that the area be declared for redevelopment,” said Joseph J. Maraziti, Jr., of the Short Hills law firm Maraziti Falcon.

Maraziti spoke at the community meeting regarding the Western Edge Redevelopment Plan that took place at the Jubilee Center, 601 Jackson St., on Thursday.

The area consists of approximately 11.15 acres of land on four separate properties – the subareas of Lower Monroe Street, Upper Monroe Street, Madison Street and Jefferson Street – located in the northwestern proximity of the city closest to the Ninth Street Hudson-Bergen Light Rail.

David Glynn Roberts, senior associate for Red Bank’s Maser Consulting, briefly mentioned the possibility of an extension to the HBLR from Ninth Street to 15th street, depending on NJ Transit’s available budget.

The HBLR addition would alleviate traffic, according to Traffic Demand Management studies, but doesn’t alleviate the stress Hoboken residents endure.

“A lot of the residents, on the weekend, are shopping at the Short Hills Mall and the Garden State Mall, which generates more traffic,” said Hoboken resident Hany Ahmed, also the proprietor of popular city bar Pilsner Haus and Biergarten.

“Let’s convert this area to a more usable and more relevant space that should not be only residential units, which has happened in the past decade or so. When you get traditional residential units, you get constituents who are forced to get in their car to go outside the area to get the goods and services they need.”

One major goal for the Redevelopment Plan is to create diversified usage of the neighborhood including retail and recreation, flood mitigation facilities and a “green circuit” for biking, Roberts further explained during the presentation.

As of now, the “western edge” is industrialized with warehouses, asphalt, and marsh land, he added.

“I think there are a lot of points that weren’t discussed in a more elaborate way. Some of them being, with regards to this part of town, flood mitigation. It’s a very expensive proposition, but it’s a necessary one,” said Ahmed.

There remains no estimate on the amount of money put into this project by property owners and city officials.

Councilman Peter Cunningham acknowledges the positive impact from this project from commercial use for Hudson County, 11 stories being the peak height per new building – with five stories designated for residential use, while the other stories remain open for entrepreneur space – which could be used as a hotel.

“We think it’s going to have a positive impact in many ways given the diversity of the uses and scale which we think is very manageable from a mitigation and transportation management standpoint,” he said at the public meeting.

“Of course, a lot of that will be further figured out once we get to the agreement — negotiation process as far as exactly what the building is going to look like, what kind of transportation options are going to be required by the property owners,” said Cunningham.

“There’s going to be a lot of various uses to accommodate the residents and all parts of Hoboken and Hudson County that will come to that part of town to use those amenities.”

Roberts also mentioned 10 percent of the property will facilitate affordable housing, as well as embodying what he calls “a family-friendly environment” of three-bedroom rental apartments.