Like Kevin Costner in "Field of Dreams," Sanford Weiss has learned a lesson about development, with one alteration: If you build it, they will come ¾ to Zoning Board meetings.
Weiss’ proposed 18-story apartment building, which he wants to erect near Hoboken’s border with Weehawken between the Park Avenue and Willow Avenue bridges, caused controversy last year because when it was originally proposed, it stood at 21 stories. Some residents from both towns complained that that was too high.
To try to nip controversy in the bud this time around, Weiss is holding a public forum this Monday, Jan. 10 at 8 p.m. in the All Saints Church Community Room at 702 Washington St. in Hoboken to tout the "benefits to the community" of the proposed 340-unit building. Eight days later, the plan will be presented to the Hoboken Zoning Board.
Even though Weiss’ firm, the Manhattan Building Company, has scaled back its proposal, a number of Hoboken residents are still concerned that the building is too big and the impact it could have on traffic too uncertain.
"Everybody says, ‘I’m against it,’ but they don’t even know what it is in it," said Weiss last week. "The point of this forum is for people to be informed. I felt that if I gave them the information on the project, they would not be so afraid of it."
But Kim Fox, an uptown Hoboken resident who hopes to rally residents against the $60 million development, says she has looked at the Manhattan Building Company’s plans already and she does not like what she sees.
"This is crazy," said Fox. "It’s too large a development for that part of town. We already have a lot of development and we don’t know what the impact on traffic and services the buildings we already have will be."
Congestion will not become a problem, insists Weiss. The developer says that if the building is approved, 16th Street will become a two-way street, a light will be placed at 16th Street and Park Avenue, and a 17th Street bypass road will be constructed.
Fox was unmoved. "I don’t think that those real minimal changes offset the negative repercussions of having an 18-story building four blocks from the Lincoln Tunnel, where we already have big traffic problems," she said.
Weiss plans to set aside 20 of the units for low-income senior citizens. The remaining apartments are expected to rent from $1,200 to $1,600 a month for a one-bedroom to $2,500 to $2,700 for three bedrooms.
The facility would also house 560 new parking spaces.
The building would have other positive impacts on the community, Weiss said. He pointed out that the cove the building would sit next to is the only protected cove on the Hudson.
"We want to bring that harbor back to life," said Weiss. "We are talking about docking facilities, sailing schools and public access to the water, but it does not just happen. You need people."
Weiss also said the building would have a "unique" lobby devoted to showcasing local artists’ work.
The Hoboken Zoning Board hearing on the building is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan 18 at 7 p.m. at Hoboken City Hall.