The Hoboken Yard Redevelopment Plan, one of the city’s largest proposed construction projects in many years, could potentially receive a vote by the city council next week, so what changes have been made to the plan since it was originally approved back in 2014?
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
According to a memorandum prepared by Hoboken Community Development Director Chris Brown on September 13th, the project has made some changes to accommodate a flood wall that is part of the $230 million Rebuild by Design project – the federally funded endeavor to prevent flood damage in light of what occurred during Hurricane Sandy.
“Due to the proposed location of the Rebuild By Design (RBD) flood wall, the potential development program of the Plan is drastically reduced. The 2014 Redevelopment Plan allowed for a total of roughly 2.3 million square feet of development over nine sites,” Brown wrote in the memo.
“The proposed amendments outline roughly 1,357,000 square feet of development
over three sites … with 944,000 square feet of ‘Future Potential Development’ along Observer Highway.”
While it is unclear what the “future potential development” will be, it appears that the developer, LCOR, and/or NJ Transit, who owns most of the 80 acres of land, will have a say in what is built there.
Based on a proposed land use district map, the flood wall would be about nine blocks long and would span between Jefferson Street and Washington Street, with a significant portion also cutting through Observer Highway.
The proposed redevelopment plan also notes that LCOR may have to be flexible when working with other partners in the project to ensure and preserve the integrity of the wall.
“The Redevelopment Agreement will acknowledge that on-going coordination with NJ TRANSIT, the PATH, and NJ Department of Environmental Protection, may require that the developer amend the phasing of the development, to accommodate conditions beyond its control.”
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection will have final say on what the flood wall looks like.
The RBD project must be completed by the end of 2022, if not, the city would be on the hook to pay for whatever costs needed to finish construction – though officials have not expressed any concern with that timeline as of now.
Additionally, rain gardens, bio-swales, green roofs, sewerage pumps and other storm management components are being considered for the project, which is still seeking to maintain a “sustainable design,” according to the redevelopment plan.
Other notable differences from the plan adopted five years ago is that the 18-story office building on the southeast corner of Hudson Place and Hudson Street will now be 300 feet tall, as opposed to 200 feet, while the second site – a 28-story residential building on the southern side of Observer Highway between Washington and Bloomfield streets – was initially pegged to be 24 stories tall.
However, Brown notes in his memo that despite this fact, the second site still doesn’t exceed the maximum permitted height.
“This increase in the number of stories is the result of the proposed development program shifting from office floors (taller ceiling heights) to residential floors,” he wrote.
The third site, located at the southeast corner of Henderson Street and Observer Highway, would be 145 feet high and also have “lower-story parking and ground floor retail.”
Furthermore, the previous plan called for at least 4.5 acres of open space, while the new one calls for about a third of that – a minimum of 1.45 acres of open space.
The latest version of the HYRP also calls for 10 percent of the project’s housing units to be affordable, increasing safety at the bus terminal entrance, connecting bike lanes from Observer Highway to the riverfront, and increasing overall pedestrian safety in the area.
While the city council gave the plan the initial okay last month, it was tabled last week after several elected officials said they thought it would be inappropriate to approve a project of this scale without at least one public hearing.
On Monday, the city formally announced, via their social media and a Nixle alert, that a community meeting on the proposed development will be held on Tuesday, October 15th, at the Multi-Service Center (124 Grand St.) at 7 p.m.
LCOR, NJ Transit and the NJ DEP did not return inquiries seeking comment on Wednesday.