9/25/2008 Update:

75 story buildings proposed!

Meeting tonight to unveil plan to the public.

hoboken-rail-yards-nj-transit-development-high-rise.jpg

We knew it would be big. Hoboken411 has been telling you for nearly two years it would be big. But many people were skeptical, and didn’t believe the rumors it could be THIS big. At the last “Public Meeting” on the plan one resident warned residents would be opposed to plans for “80 story buildings” in Hoboken. Some thought that was an exaggeration. It turns out it wasn’t!

The plan is out and it includes allowances for 75-story office towers. That is not a misprint. NJTransit wants to build huge office buildings, AND several 45-story residential buildings along Observer Highway. With dollar signs in his eyes, Mayor David Roberts is on board 100%, as 411 told you he would be.

The redevelopment scheme for the Hoboken Railyards cooked up by New Jersey Transit’s hand-picked planners at FXFowle includes levels of high-rise development even greater than all the rumors you have been reading on Hoboken411. Tonight at 7pm FXFowle officially unveils the plan at the Multi-Service Center at Second and Grand.

We’ve been telling you this absurdity has been coming for a while. Back in January of 2007 on Hoboken411:

In October of 2005 NJ Transit named a development company called LCOR “Master Planner and Developer” for the 65 Acre Hoboken terminal Property. Since that announcement there have only been rumors about what LCOR and NJ Transit has cooked up for Hoboken. There is great concern that Mayor David Roberts has given the unofficial green light to the construction of high-rise office and condo towers running from the train station straight up Observer Highway.

NJ Transit Rail Yards in Hoboken

Right again! And it is even bigger than originally suspected. Remember this from the Hoboken411 recap of the December 3, 2007 City Council Meeting?

City Director of Community Development Fred Bado asked the council to approve a $155,000 contract for FXFOWLE Architects and Planners to prepare a redevelopment plan for NJ Transit’s Hoboken Terminal and Yard. NJ Transit is rumored to want to build several high rise buildings, and has hired LCOR to redevelop the property. Bado stressed that NJ Transit was looking to work with Hoboken on the project, allowing the council and public to be involved. Still, residents are weary about Mayor David Roberts’ statements that seem to be in line with NJ Transit’s vision for a high-rise Hoboken.

Bado was also asked about the various concepts that the Mayor and some members of the council have referred to over the years which have not been made public. Bado said they were “just concepts” and not what has been or will be decided.

Hah! What a joke! Several council members asked Bado to go on the record about what had seen from NJTransit, but he bobbed and weaved until they voted his way. Back in April – 411 told you about phone polls about the redevelopment:

Mayor Dave Roberts is widely believed to have made a handshake deal to allow some of the tallest buildings in New Jersey to be built over the NJ Transit Rail Yards. His comments promoting railroad redevelopment and high-rise towers the likes of which would make the W seem tiny has many people concerned.

We said this in June, and we say it again today.

If you don’t want to see a wall of high-rise towers built on the Hoboken rail yards, then you need to be at a public meeting on the redevelopment plan for the Hoboken train terminal and rail yard… This is the opportunity for people to speak out on what they do and do NOT want to see built there.

Tonight’s meeting tonight begins at 7pm at the Multi-Service Center at 2nd and Grand.

PREVIOUS UPDATES AFTER THE JUMP…

6/20/2008 Recap:

First Public Meeting

Planning and architectural firm FXFOWLE held their first “Public Meeting” on the Hoboken Rail Yards redevelopment scheme. After a brief introduction by the Mayor and comments from the planners, people were asked to look at board after board of concepts that could be used to formulate the plan and turn in their notes at the end. Any questions about how high NJ Transit wants to build on the site were met with wrinkled noses. What they did talk about was which areas of the terminal could be developed on, historic preservation and rehabilitation, how open space and LEED certification could work in the plan, as well as a redesign of Observer Highway and it’s troublesome combined sewer main.

The crowd was a mix of politicians, architects, curious citizens and watchdogs wondering what is being cooked up for the south end of Hoboken. While many of the basic concepts were hard to argue with, the big elephant in the room was a chart that showed the proposed Floor Area Ratio of buildings NJ Transit wants to build. It compared more with Newport, Jersey City than anything in Hoboken. The chart compared the plan only to the tallest buildings on the Hoboken waterfront today, and not Hoboken as a whole.

The planners claim they will be making a half-billion dollar investment in Hoboken and that demands significant development and density. Will they give enough back to make it worthwhile, or will the buildings be too much for Hoboken to bear? Another meeting is planned for July, followed by the unveiling of the plan they are offering in September. In the meantime, there were no documents handed out to people who showed up and there is no website set up to find all of the boards on display. The best I can offer are pictures of a some of them here until they are available in electronic format. (They haven’t set up a website yet, either.)

PHOTO GALLERY (HOLD MOUSE OVER IMAGE TO NAVIGATE – 9 PHOTOS IN THIS SET – CLICK TO ENLARGE)

6/16/2008 Update:

Public Meeting Thursday

If you don’t want to see a wall of high-rise towers built on the Hoboken rail yards, then you need to be at a public meeting on the redevelopment plan for the Hoboken train terminal and rail yard Thursday night. NJ Transit told the City to hire their hand-picked planner firm FXFowle, which will be running a public meeting at the Hoboken Terminal this Thursday from 7pm to 9pm. This is the opportunity for people to speak out on what they do and do NOT want to see built there.

rail-yards-meeting-june-19-2008.jpg

In October of 2005 NJ Transit named a development company called LCOR “Master Planner and Developer” for the 65 Acre Hoboken terminal Property.

Since that announcement there have only been rumors about what LCOR and NJ Transit has cooked up for Hoboken. There is great concern that Mayor David Roberts has given the unofficial green light to the construction of high-rise office and condo towers running from the train station straight up Observer Highway. The City Council and Planning Board designated the area as “in need of redevelopment” and are now overseeing the creation of the plan for what should be built on the largest open area left in the city.

Taking the public’s temperature for development

NJ Transit has apparently also hired a firm to poll the community both on the phone and in person (walking into stores asking questions of business owners) about the redevelopment. 411 told you about it first here: Polling for dollars.

Since then the polling continues. I got this email from a Hoboken411 reader recently:

“Received a survey call tonight from a phone survey group on behalf of Eastern Research. I asked them who was paying for the survey, but she couldn’t/wouldn’t tell me. The topics of question were regarding the redevelopment of the rail yards. They asked me how much I support the revitalization, if I believe the revitalization is a key indicator to sustaining Hoboken’s growth and whether the traffic & flooding improvements associated with such a revitalization would make me more likely to support the project (when I asked what traffic & flooding improvements were being planned, no answer was available). Finally, they asked the reason why I live in Hoboken (proximity to family, friends, New York, from New Jersey, etc.).”

What do you want to see built on the rail yards?

Post in the comments section, and be heard at the meeting Thursday night. Read below for the first post on this subject nearly two years ago.

7/22/2006:

It seems as if they’re finally going to clean up the area with some modern development. While it’s quite possible the re-development will aesthetically improve the area, many residents think excess building will only cause more troubles for Hoboken.

What I’m curious about is what Hoboken’s exact “involvement” will be… I’m not sure what the real deal is here.. are they saying they’re opposed to any 500 or 1000 condo development because they won’t have their pockets lined? or is something else?

Hoboken is a minor league player in this deal in my opinion. NJT will be calling the shots for sure, and maybe just mentioning “working together” just to kiss ass. We’ll see what really happens down the line.

65-acre redevelopment planned by NJ Transit

Residents are fighting to stave off development in the Mile Square City – but the biggest expansion in the city’s history could be coming and local officials may be powerless to stop it.

NJ Transit recently began studying the Hoboken Terminal and the 65 acres that straddle Hoboken and Jersey City in anticipation of upgrading facilities and installing transit-oriented development.

As a government agency, NJ Transit is exempt from city zoning laws, meaning the agency is free to build as it pleases – a nightmare scenario for residents already overwhelmed by high-rise towers.

So far, NJ Transit and local officials appear to be working together to come up with a blueprint.

Last month, the City Council – acting on an invitation from NJ Transit – authorized the planning board to conduct a preliminary study of the site for possible redevelopment.

“I believe we will achieve the best results for both NJ Transit and Hoboken by working together,” said Jim Zullo, senior director of real estate for NJ Transit.

The 65 acres abutting the Hudson River consists of a train terminal, active storage yard, maintenance facility, train watch facility, electrical substation, train shed, bus lanes, light rail station, PATH station, ferry terminal and parking facility.

Last year, NJ Transit hired LCOR, a real estate development company based in Philadelphia, to conduct a “concept plan” to determine what, if any, operations can be consolidated or moved.

“We want to maximize economic return on this property,” Zullo said. “The revenues could be put back directly into this facility and improving transfers between modes. We think, for both Jersey City and Hoboken, there are real economic benefits.”

But with two plans in the works for the site, no one is sure which one will become the driving force for redevelopment.

Hoboken Councilman Peter Cammarano, who is also a planning board member, thanked NJ Transit for including the city in development discussions but acknowledged that the relationship may not always be without wrinkles.

“If they are talking about building 500 and 1,000 units, that is something we should all take a long hard look at,” he said. “It’s a delicate balancing act. On the one hand, we’ve been invited to participate in the process and we are going to do that with the redevelopment plan process. We will let NJ Transit and LCOR know what we have in mind.”

Hoboken NJ

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