As Hoboken relentlessly transforms its unique historic structures that were designed for specific necessary purposes to boring luxury condos whose sole purpose is to maximize the developers’ profits, I cannot help but wonder what our cities will look like and how they will be able to function in the future.
Today, almost every historic structure that has outlived its original purpose and is sold for profit is destined to become high-end luxury condos. This has been the end result for many banks, department stores, high schools, factory buildings, men’s clubs, firehouses, and churches. If the structure is not gutted for condos, then it will be demolished for new condos built from scratch.
These future condo-to-be structures were originally uniquely built for what they were destined to be. Examples of these unique and purposeful structures in Hoboken are churches. Their architecture was executed for worship and was inspired by the great European cathedrals which displayed incredible architectural feats showcasing flying buttresses, huge beautiful stained-glass windows, and looming towers with bells.
At 901 Bloomfield St. stands a massive Romanesque-styled church which was built in 1890 as a Baptist church and then in 1959 became a Seventh Day Adventist Church until they moved out in 2013. There are stained-glass windows and a 78 foot four-sectioned tower with a belfry where there are a total of ten vertical openings that once were louvered on each side. These ten openings will become 15 feet high windows with small ornamental bars spaced apart to give a louvered look from the street, yet will allow the two duplexes that will have use of the tower to be able to see out. As of Oct. 20, the Zoning Board of Adjustment unanimously agreed to allow the new owner/developer to build six high end luxury condos and approved variances to go up two more floors from the original massive three-story church. There will be four duplexes with four outdoor decks and two ground floor units. This structure is not in the flood plain and the church is actually on an incline going upward toward Washington Street.
When this structure becomes condos, all the church’s four entrances will be lit up. The huge stained-glass windows will be removed to allow clear glass for the owners to view out and light will flow onto the street. At night this condo project will be a first of its kind in Hoboken – a tower will allow light to flow from all four sides, becoming a beacon with the visual effect of a lighthouse.
It is a pity that this beautiful and unique structure with its cylindrical sanctuary could not have been utilized for public purposes as a performance space for music, theatre, or social events, etc. These three and four bedroom duplexes will have residents who will bring more than one car to Hoboken and with the new redesign at this street corner, three parking spaces were lost. The last thing Hoboken needs is more cars and more high-end condos.