9/26/2008 Update:

[411 note: All history from the past two years can be found on this thread.]

See the 54 page presentation from FXFowle here.

Disastrous Plan Unveiled

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Look closely at that picture and you’ll barely be able to make out Hoboken. It’s the little town on the right dwarfed by the largest buildings in New Jersey.

This is the future for Hoboken that Mayor David Roberts is enthusiastically supporting. It’s the redevelopment plan cooked up by NJ Transit and their designated developer LCOR. That’s an actual artist’s rendering of what the proposed project could look like. A line of high-rise buildings up to 780 feet (78 stories) tall, with 480 foot (48 story) tall buildings lining Observer Highway. Squint and you may be able to make out the new Hoboken Terminal Clock Tower, dwarfed and marginalized by a cluster of towering monoliths. Here is a sample of last night’s public reaction to the proposal:

  • “It’s a monstrosity that will ruin our environment and raise our taxes.”
  • “A plan most stunning for its sheer arrogance.”
  • “So far out of whack it is unbelievable.”
  • “Just plain wrong for Hoboken.”

Hoboken residents used to count on the rail yards as a buffer from the encroaching high-rise development of Jersey City. Now NJ Transit wants to develop buildings in Hoboken that are taller, and more closely spaced than anything at Newport and Roberts is all for it. There was open laughter when the planners from FXFowle actually said this project was “Sensitive to Hoboken’s scale and character.”

Roberts and Bado ignore public input

Hoboken Community Development Director Fred Bado opened the so-called “Public Meeting” by calling it “A very exciting night that achieves the vision that this group started off with in the beginning of the process.” Who was he talking about? The public? No, he was referring to himself, his boss the Mayor, the developers at LCOR and New Jersey Transit, plus their hand-picked planners from FXFowle. Bado was essentially admitting the planners essentially ignored all public comment from previous meetings and followed their orders to turn southern Hoboken into New Jersey’s answer to the Word Trade Center.

Read more about the ridiculous proposal after the jump…

(NJ Transit plans from Hell, continued…)

Bad idea, bad timing, just plain bad

A few years ago Jersey City was touted for being a post-9/11 “Wall Street West” success story. Now as Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers disappear with massive layoffs, Jersey City is bracing for a big hit. So, that must mean it’s a great time to plan to build up to 5.5 million square feet of commercial space in Hoboken! The real estate market is soft and getting softer, so why not add 3500 residential units to the Mile Square inventory? Hobokenites have long fought to keep their neighborhoods in scale, so why not build the tallest building in New Jersey right here! This is the skewed logic of Mayor Roberts and his co-conspirators.

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Looking for new recreational space? Not here.

FXFowle claims the plan includes about 7 acres of “public open space” but they include nearly three acres at raised and upper levels. They also include existing space in the calculations, and put Pier A (not their property) in all of their drawings to make it look like there was more green space in the plan than there is. If you want to get to the “open space” over the terminal you will need to be in shape to climb 40 feet of steps from Observer Highway up to the entrance to a 78-story building. They also plan to put some “green” on the roof of the terminal building, and rehab a small, out-of-the-way pier. Just the thing if you miss your train to Morristown, but nothing Hoboken residents would ever bother with. No soccer field, no baseball, no bocce ball, nothing but a small lawn in front of skyscrapers. Who are they kidding?

PHOTO GALLERY (HOLD MOUSE OVER IMAGE TO NAVIGATE – 14 PHOTOS IN THIS SET)

The City Council Reacts

Four members of the council were seen at the meeting. Council President Nino Giacchi, 2nd ward Councilwoman Beth Mason, 3rd ward Councilman Mike Russo, and 4th ward Councilwoman Dawn Zimmer. Mayor Roberts didn’t stay to hear the public comments. Mason said she had many concerns, noting the planners were focused on “The Development” but said little about its impact and relationship on the rest of Hoboken. Russo answered public questions about the process, and noted people should not assume the council approves of everything the planners presented. Zimmer went further, stressing this plan comes from the Mayor and she was against it, adding, “This development is going to crush the 4th ward and the 1st ward.”

“Substantially Inconsistent” with the Master Plan

Leah Healey of HobokenParks.org pointed out the project flies in the face of the directives of the Hoboken Master Plan, which states projects exactly like this one are not appropriate for the rail yards. Healey also challenged the idea that NJ Transit can arrogantly dismiss local laws when developing non-transit related projects. An attorney for NJ Transit refuted the claim, but failed to cite specifics in the law to back it up.

The city shut the meeting down before 10pm before all members of the public had the chance to speak. The meeting was videotaped for Channel 78 and unlike last time, a wireless microphone was provided for the audience.

Can you believe they want to build the tallest buildings in New Jersey here in low-rise Hoboken?
48 story apartment buildings on Observer Highway?

Share your thoughts in the comments section, and watch Hoboken411 for updates. Remember… Hoboken411 told you first this was coming almost two years ago!