N. Waterfront, Stack Box - Part 2, and a Booty Call for Charity!


What a gorgeous weekend! 
I hope you are enjoying it and will take some time to go to Hoboken’s Art & Music Festival today from 10-4 on Washington Street!  When you have a few minutes, please take a read of some important waterfront updates, and a few others including an amazing way to raise money for our food pantry and new housing for homeless veterans in Hoboken.  
A word that has been part of my vernacular and so many others since 2011 and is now synonymous not only with the northern end of our waterfront, but now also a park in the western side of Hoboken, a public works garage moving out of a residential neighborhood in southern Hoboken and moving into an industrial neighborhood in the northern most part of Hoboken.  We are so close we can taste it!  
I confirmed this week with the administration that the settlement is set to close in the next week or two and that the only outstanding item is one remaining perfunctory approval from the state for Shipyard / Applied that is imminent.  In May, the City Council gave the mayor final approval for his administration to complete the settlement meaning it is free to close with no more City Council votes.  That same vote gave us three years from the date of closing to identify a new location for the DPW garage which I can tell you we are close and it will be north of 15th street. 
In terms of what is next, until the final plans for the area are completed, I have requested the administration to build a “pop up walkway” (actually a phrase coined by Environmental Services Director Jen Gonzalez) in the area from just east of the Hudson Tea to around the bend where it meets the walkway by Shipyard.  Currently that area is very narrow, and a little bit dangerous and hopefully will be easy to accomplish, not unlike our pop up parks, with moving the fence and garbage collection area and just adding a little bit of pavement. 
As a reminder, the City Council voted unanimously/9-0 multiple times and most importantly in 2019 to approve this long-awaited acquisition to finally complete our Waterfront.  Through the process leading up to the agreement, the range of values for the property was $13M to $24M, and the City and NYWW have amicably agreed to meet in the middle, instead of spending years and $$ fighting, at a price of $18.5.  The City Council will have to approve this $5M increase but I am confident that it will again be approved unanimously (it would only need 6 votes) as and when it comes before the City Council given it is an issue that is widely supported by our community, is no longer being acquired through eminent domain, it is a large 2.5 acre parcel on our waterfront with unlimited possibilities, and it is the last piece in what has been a 30 yr. battle to preserve our waterfront for the public. 
What the heck is Pier 12 you ask … It is the pier just south of Pier 13 and currently is used by the Hoboken Sailing School and Sailing Club.    Applied Properties, who owns the pier and sailing club are looking to make improvements to the pier to build an education center including three, 11’ high, 20’x12’ shed like buildings. This is just a mashup from their plans to give you an idea. 
There is a Planning Board meeting this Tuesday, October 5th to review the application for their proposed improvements.  It is listed as 1201-1333 River Terrace.  Many of our neighbors received notice about the planning meeting and reached out expressing concerns that it might bring more raucous noise, trash and unsafe driving to the area like what has plagued Pier 13.  I spoke with Joe Barry of Applied who assured me the focus is on education and that there will not be a liquor license at this venue nor any large-scale events.  I would encourage you to join me in at least watching the planning board meeting.  Details for the meeting are as follows:
  • Date:  October 5th
  • Time:  Begins at 7pm, however this comes after some administrative actions and an application for a medical marijuana dispensary at 86 River St. 
  • Zoom Info to watch or participate:  click HERE
As I read through the application, which is an easy read, I also found the long lost planning board resolution from July 2014 that has the actual rules for Pier 13 including opening hours and public access.  This is a snippet, but the full 17 page document is attached.  
Remember my email about the Stack Box?  Where our State Senator Stack, who is also a Union City mayor, pushed our mayor to change heights of a proposed development so as to "protect the palisades" and not block the views in Union City?  Where are we?  The mayor is still bending towards Senator Stack and Union City’s interests over those of Hoboken. 
On the agenda for 2nd reading (I voted no on 1st reading)is the ordinance I previously wrote about that represents what the mayor’s office is offering the property owner that owns two sites in the Western Edge Redevelopment area.  After my signature below, is the original email I sent you this summer on this topic.  But as a reminder: the stated goal of the ordinance being proposed is to offer city owned properties to be part of the redevelopment of both sites and allow 100% lot coverage on all of this expanded foot print if the property owner agrees to reduce the height of their development to accommodate Senator Stack.  One of these sites is what we refer to as the North Flap – the .7 acre site next to the NW Resiliency Park at the corner of 13th and Adams that was earmarked for a pool, community center and public parking garage.      
To be fair, the ordinance does include language that says the developer would have to build a community center and pool (but we lose the parking garage) on the North Flap as part of any agreement.  However, development math makes this not feasible (you can read more about this below my signature).  But visually this is what would happen:  
To summarize, to keep Senator Stack happy and the developer whole on his economics that were already agreed (whether you like the project or not), Hoboken gets a couple of 12 story monolithic buildings, no green circuit and we risk losing the ability to have a state of the art community center, pool and parking garage next to our largest park.  You can count on me to vote no on this ordinance and always put Hoboken interests before those of a neighboring city.
Why does Senator Stack's interests matter so much in this instence?  It is not fodder, as it is widely discussed by all interested parties.  I am speculating but it is probably because Mayor Stack can offer to guide his base of 10,000 Union City voters to support any other legislative or congressional candidate.  Or not.  Ironically, this picture is captures how Senator / Mayor Stack "protects the Palisades".  The gap in the tree line is the Hoboken Heights project in Union City which was approved by Union City planning board that Mayor Stack chairs.   
Photo credit: Hoboken neighbor    
Shifting gears to more fun… 
Our amazing FLAG group that provided support for all of our first responders during COVID is back with their successful Battle of the Booty to raise money for two of my favorite local non-profits: the Hoboken Food Pantry and Hoboken’s Tom Kennedy American Legion Post 1017 who is building the second phase of housing for homeless veterans.  There are two competitions – one for adults and one for families!
The adult competitions will be hosted by 7 gyms, Crossfit Hoboken, Hudson River Athletics, The Fit Foundry, Brazen Athletics, Jane Do, Prime Cycle and Project Sculpt!  Each gym will host heats 5 minutes long where participants will perform as many squats as possible.  The winner last year did 277 squats in 5 minutes!!!  Just as we did last year, a representative from the Hoboken Police Department and the Hoboken Fire Department will face off to see who can drop it like it's hot and win the Buns of Steel Trophy!!!
The family edition will take place at Maxwell Park and will include a family squat session followed by lots of outdoor fun from our friends at The Inner Athlete.  Every registrant will receive a free ice cream!  Crafts and overall revelry will be provided! 
Here is the link to register, the minimum is $25, a donation of $100 or more gets you the coveted, super soft, Battle of the Booty II T shirt! 
It is election season.  And getting out talking to people more than normal about important issues is a hallmark and quite frankly the best part of this time of year.  The sun is shining and so many people are engaged and interested in sharing their views.  The worst part?  When politics turns into fearmongering and when important issues are held hostage by the election.  Over the years, when asked whether Monarch and UDD would get done, I would reply yes because of their importance to the wider community.  When asked "when"?, I would say both would be set to coincide with the 2021 mayoral election because of their importance to the wider community.  So if you see any fearmongering on these issues or any others over the next four weeks from a mayoral candidate running unopposed, just recognize them for what they are, that it is election season and that you heard it hear first.  And remember that there has been one issue in Hoboken that has always had almost universal support by residents for the past thirty years and more recently the unanimous support of the City Council - fighting to keep Hoboken's waterfront for the public.  
As always, please forward to anyone you think may be interested in receiving this.  Feel free to email me at [email protected] or call me at 201-208-1674 to discuss what you have read or anything else that is important to you.  
Hoboken City Council, 2nd Ward
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The Brian Stack Box Part II
Choosing Union City over Hoboken, Again
Do you remember last summer when Mayor Bhalla announced and celebrated the project he negotiated and the City Council approved on the City’s Western Edge that for the first time included funding for a community pool, the building of 17 affordable units for homeless veterans and resiliency improvements?  Located next to the viaduct between Jefferson and Madison where this property currently exists:
1300 Jefferson Street Hoboken
The headlines and related stories were:
Mayor Bhalla’s specific statement in these articles was:
“I’m extremely pleased we have adopted a redevelopment agreement that provides for robust community givebacks, especially funding that will be allocated for a new community pool,” said Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla. “The combination of this much needed public amenity, along with 37 units of affordable housing, open space, and critical flood mitigation will add substantial quality of life benefits to our mile square.”
But all of these community benefits are at risk now because it was recently brought to Mayor Bhalla's attention that the project doesn’t fit in the State Senator / Union City Mayor “Stack Box” (higher than the palisades).
So although there is a signed and celebrated development contract between the City of Hoboken and the property owner, our mayor is now backpedaling his support for the project.  And by backpedaling I mean putting out misleading statements about having an agreement for a shorter project and twice publicly threatening the developer to reduce the height or else the mayor will “rescind the agreement” .  
But I am writing about this today, because up for a Council vote tonight is an amendment by Mayor Bhalla that proposes to offer the developer a city property – specifically the block adjacent to the NW Park that has been earmarked for a pool, municipal garage and community center – to move their residential density (and build a new residential tower instead) if the developer reduces the height of their currently proposed building to fit in the 'Stack Box'.  
In a nutshell:  Mayor Bhalla is offering the property owner the following in exchange for the property owner lowering the height of the building to fit in the “Stack Box” (and subject to City Council approval):
  • Letting the developer use the “North Flap” that we paid $5M for in their redevelopment project; reminder this lot was earmarked for a pool, community center and parking garage
  • Increasing street level building lot coverage from 75% to 100% (so wider and with no open space)
  • Allowing the property owner to build on the Hoboken owned “Right of Way” on Monroe Street at the back of their building instead of using for open space
  • Reducing minimum open space requirement from 40,000 sf to 5,000 sf.
Additionally, to accomodate the owner of the 930 Monroe site (the monollithic project I referenced earlier this week and introduced the term Stack Box), the amendment also provides for the green circuit that the property owner is responsible to build on their own property, to be built offsite instead on another City Owned property - aka the street.
Although the administration added language at the last minute (as I write this) to say that a community center must be accomodated in Stack Box 2these are just words on a paper.  And the math will not work.  It doesnt even work just moving the high floor, high rent residential units off the top of a building and covert into lower floor, lower rents with the costs of building a new building (mechanicals, elevators, etc.) without adding more units and giving the property owner the City's property for free.  Adding into this mix a community center that will cost tens of millions of dollars to build only means the property would have to go even higher to cover these additional costs.  And then we are back to square one where the new building on the City property built to make the math work, doesn't fit in Stack Box 2.   
I can honestly say, I am flummoxed and have never seen anything this recklessly anti-Hoboken before.  Mayor Bhalla is giving away the prospect of a pool and community center, municipal parking and even part of the street to accommodate Senator Stack's interest in protecting the views of Union City residents just up the cliff (the Yardley is due west of this site).  This is not an assumption, it is fact as we have discussed many times in multiple meetings.  And Senator / Mayor Stack is using Union City taxpayer dollars to legally oppose this application that is currently before the planning board.  Taxpayer dollars that are heavily subsidized by the $15M annual transition financing Stack uses his legislative authority to get for Union City residents.  You can't make it up...
Whether you want to see the building shorter or not...This. Is. Unacceptable.  Period.  If you agree, please let your council representatives and the mayor know.



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  • Tiffanie Fisher
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