Adding 3 stories a no-go Residents applaud vote

Adding 3 stories a no-go
Residents applaud vote

Saturday, August 12, 2006
Jedrsey Journal

HOBOKEN - To cheers from the audience, the City Council narrowly voted down introduction of an ordinance that would have added three stories to the proposed building at the municipal garage site on Observer Highway.

Following the 5-4 vote Wednesday night, members of the Observer Highway Advisory Committee - a 16-member group of residents that signed off on the original proposal - applauded the verdict.

The original plan for the 1-acre site called for a 240-unit building with a "step-down" design ranging from seven to nine stories, while the latest design called for a building ranging from nine to 12 stories.

In May, the council unanimously approved the original site plan, but that plan only drew two bidders - Metro-Ran LLC and Applied Development/Cali Futures LLC.

Both were substantially less than the $30 million Mayor David Roberts was hoping for. The plan had been to use roughly $13 million of that to close a budget gap and pay off debt. The city wound up taking out bonds to close this year's $5 million gap.

Lane Bajardi, president of the Observer Highway Advisory Committee and a nearby resident, said he believes planners overestimated the worth of the site.

"Anyone who says the planners made an error should ask the planners," said Bajardi.

Disappointed by the council's vote, Roberts said he's gone to great lengths to maximize the potential profit on the building, which will provide funds for open space and other amenities.

"I have an obligation to work harder to try to find areas of consensus," Roberts said.

"I will double my efforts to come up with a plan that maximizes the amount of city benefits and lessens the amount of bulk and density in neighborhoods."

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