The idea of a high-rise office and residential complex on Hoboken’s southern edge is a major mistake and must be reconsidered. I have talked with many friends and neighbors since the Mayor and NJ Transit unveiled the FX Fowle concepts and not found anyone who wants this massive “wall” of glass and shiny metal.
The initial plans certainly do not fit the Hoboken we love. Where is the “smart” and reasonable development promised by incoming Mayor Roberts? Other new buildings on the periphery are 8-14 stories. They acknowledge our tradition of brick, brownstone and patina-toned metal. The proposed rail yard complex ignores the City plan, makes up a look and executes it on a scale three to four times as tall as anything here. The first depiction was a pop quiz … can anyone even find historic Hoboken Terminal in this picture?
Citizen outrage at the September meeting and letters to The Reporter demonstrate the need for a new plan and the opportunity to study the plan in depth. Otherwise we’ll be stuck with 10-15 years of construction noise, pollution and traffic messes, followed by an eternity in a City we no longer recognize.
NJ Transit itself has stated that this is a “work in process.” The revised plan should be highly detailed, so we can see what exactly is being altered: views from all directions, overhead diagrams, over operating tracks or deactivated ones, charts of the shadows the buildings will cast from November through January. How does this complex relate to the current streetscape? Is there retail and small business? Why should NJ Transit get a pass on all zoning regs? This plan is not about transportation, it’s about commercial real estate.
Who is looking at the total rush hour implications, twice a day, five days a week, of thousands of new commuters into the Hoboken Terminal area? While on a macro level, NJ Transit seems to be emphasizing Midtown. The transportation issues include a huge upswing in the 2-way PATH load, with many of the new complex’ 6,000 residents joining our existing outbound Hoboken residents passing inbound commuters in narrow corridors, plus more cars on all the adjacent streets. Gridlock alert!
What about the massive infrastructure needs and costs? Given the City’s current financial mess, there is a natural hope by some elected officials to view this City of Towers as a “silver bullet,” meeting all future budgetary needs. Guess again! We’ve been living through an era of intense building all over town with costs going up faster than revenues. The initial plan requires new sewers, storm sewers, water pipes and street work. Any hope for incremental revenues is 10-15 years away. Often large commercial complexes feature large tax abatements. So will the any real revenues be 20-30 years out?
Perhaps Hoboken should digest its recent growth before embarking on a new binge. We deserve something better than a poorly-planned City of Towers. Let’s see a new plan that fits!
Terrence J. Pranses