High-Rise Proposed for 38 Jackson Street
Shah pulls development application, again
An unpopular proposal to tear down the My-T-Fine building and replace it with a mega-block of apartments in two 13-story buildings has been rescinded so changes can be made to the plan.
Testimony and cross-examination of expert witnesses continued last night at a special meeting of the Zoning Board with a “Traffic Expert” hired by International Realty to testify that construction of a 348-unit apartment building would have no impact on traffic. Following a break in the meeting, the attorney for IR’s Dennis Shah asked to withdraw the current application to change the architectural design and submit new drawings. The Zoning Board granted the request and will re-start the clock on the hearing once the new drawings are in. No word how Shah will change the drawings in response to the opposition.
Hoboken411 was the first place the public learned about this mega high-rise application. To date, the weekly paper – which has a history of reporting on controversial development applications only after they’re approved – has yet to do a feature article on this major proposal.
See the original stories and updates, after the jump.
Hearing continues on proposed 38 Jackson St. high-rise
Tonight, the Hoboken Zoning Board will resume a hearing to consider variances that would allow the destruction of the My-T-Fine Building.
International Realty wants to tear the building down and put up a 13-story mega-block housing 348 apartments. At the first hearing, the board heard from owner Dennis Shah and his architects. Members of the public can ask questions of all those who testify, but without an organized group of objectors hiring their own experts, Shah may choose to appeal any variance denials in court. International Realty’s planners, engineers and traffic consultants will testify as the hearing continues.
Here’s a look at some of the documents presented to the Zoning Board at the last meeting (and see agenda here):
The meeting begins at 7pm in the downstairs meeting room at City Hall.
My-T-Fine owner wants 13-story 348 apartment complex
The owners of the historic My-T-Fine Pudding / Cocomalt building at 38 Jackson Street want to tear it down to build a massive high-rise condo complex.
International Realty – owned by Dennis Shah and his family – has been talking about redeveloping “Block 6” for years. Tonight, the Hoboken Zoning Board will begin a hearing to consider their application.
Block 6 is surrounded by Observer Highway, Newark, Jackson and Harrison Streets. It’s known as the My-T-Fine building because R.B. Davis produced pudding and Cocomalt on the site for decades. Today, it’s a rundown hodge-podge housing several businesses including the Shah family’s Chambord high-end wallpaper company.
Historic preservation and parks proponents have advocated a restoration and rehabilitation of the My-T-Fine frontage as part of the continued redevelopment of southwest Hoboken (including the SW6 Plan, which Mayor Zimmer continues to ignore.)
Inaction from Zimmer led to this application
In 2007, Dawn Zimmer was elected to the Hoboken City Council on a platform to move “a better plan” for Southwest Redevelopment forward. Three years later – and nearly a year after she moved into the Mayor’s office – Zimmer has offered no official plan for Southwest Redevelopment.
She claims to be “working on it” but there’s been no sign of any progress despite campaign promises during six elections where her name was on the ballot.
The Shahs said they would cooperate with a city redevelopment plan for the area, but after four years of waiting, they’ll be in front of the Zoning Board tonight instead.
Boatloads of variances for 13-story buildings
The My-T-Fine is in the I-2 Industrial Zone, which means the owner needs a “D” variance to change the allowable use. Hoboken’s zoning code allows “Food processing, manufacturing, retail, service, public and wireless communications” in the I-2. Shah wants to build 348 residential units instead. His planners will argue there are precedents, since most of the southwest area has been “Zoned by Variance” at the zoning board, including the building that kicked it all off in the ‘80s – The Skyline, which is home to Zoning Board Chairman Tony Soares.
Shah also wants a variance for lot coverage. The law allows 60%, but they are asking for 96.5%. In the I-2 zone buildings are limited to two stories at a maximum of 40 feet tall. Shah wants two 13-story towers rising 135 feet high. They also want variances for no front, side or rear yards. In all Shah is asking for four “D” variances and 5 “C” variances. That’s a tall order, but it’s not unprecedented. Just look at the Hoboken Grande right across the street from My-T-Fine, or the Observer Plaza at 415 Newark, each developed with a boatload of D and C variances in the Industrial Zone.
Opposition from historic preservation & overdevelopment activists
By law, the city needs to hear the developer’s application no matter how out-of-scale or unlikely to be approved it seems to appear in the current political climate. The Zoning Board is not supposed to have a preconceived notion about an application before going through the process. That said, this thing ain’t likely to fly as proposed, and a lot of people are wondering what International Realty thinks it is going to get out of the process when all is said and done.
The hearing begins tonight at 7pm in the Newark Street meeting room in the basement of City Hall.
What do you think of the plans? Take a look at the architectural drawings and photographs in the gallery below – and share your thoughts in the comments.
38 Jackson plans and photos
Imagine 500 more Hoboken residents clogging the morning commute downtown?