On May 8th, at a hearing which I attended, Hudson County Judge Patrick Arre overturned both the Hudson County Planning Board’s denial of Applied’s application for the proposed Monarch development as well as the subsequent Board of Chosen Freeholder’s denial. Effectively, the Judge found that both Boards’ decisions had insufficient technical reasons to uphold their respective denials.
With this ruling, Applied technically has all but one of the requirements to build Monarch: Hoboken Planning Board (“HPB”) approval (judge ruled deemed approval; under appeal), DEP Waterfront Permit (fast track approved without public hearing; under appeal), and now the Hudson County Planning Board approval (under appeal). The only obstacle stopping Applied from building Monarch (other than the various appeals and litigations) are the 2013 Hoboken City flood ordinances which, among many other provisions, include a prohibition of developing on our waterfront due to health and safety concerns. Applied are currently challenging this in Federal Court.
What drives this fight is the unanimous support within our community to preserve our waterfront for its intended use – for the public’s enjoyment. A use to which Applied / the Barry family had previously committed.
What caused this fight is when the Barry family recant and decided to recast this portion of the Hoboken waterfront to exploit for private use and their own financial gain.
For those less familiar, the plans for the subject site date back to the late 90’s, when the Russo administration negotiated with Applied for a very detailed plan for the entire Shipyard development. From those negotiations, the terms which were documented in a Developers Agreement signed in 1997 by Applied, the City and the HPB, the City and the HPB agreed to change the zoning for the area to accommodate what would be Applied’s for-profit, mixed use development. In exchange, Applied agreed to include significant open space that would be for public benefit including, on this site that is now subject to this fight, public amenities comprising open space, tennis courts and parking.
It was only after Applied completed all of the profitable phases of its Shipyard plan – including the Constitution, Independence, Sovereign, Berkshire and Vanguard buildings at Shipyard – did the Barry family change their mind deciding that they no longer wanted to honor their commitment to build the public amenity that it had agreed to do. In fact, they actually claimed a hardship stating that the costs to build the amenity would be too great – of course not giving any consideration to any of their prior and continuing profits from the other completed buildings. So they started preparation for the proposed Monarch development on the site that was supposed to be the public amenity.
This is not a question of being pro development or not. There are plenty of good developments being built by principled developers in Hoboken. That just isn’t the case here and Hoboken loses if Applied wins.
This is only a setback, but still an unfortunate outcome for our Hoboken community.
Co-founder, Hoboken Residents for a Public Waterfront