Compromise plan pitched for Municipal Garage. Council, community advisory committee propose 240-units, nine stories

Compromise plan pitched for Municipal Garage
Council, community advisory committee propose 240-units, nine stories

04/16/2006  Hoboken Reporter 

The Hoboken City Council has unveiled its redevelopment plan for the Municipal Garage on Observer Highway. The proposed plan includes zoning for 240 units of housing that could rise nine stories on Observer Highway. The buildings would get lower and lower as they move toward Newark Street.

The property has been the center of controversy since the city announced that it wanted to sell the property in order to fill a budget gap and generate revenue.

Last year, the city-owned garage on Observer Highway was sold to the Hudson County Improvement Authority for about $7.9 million, which was used to fill a budgetary shortfall. However, the HCIA is currently leasing the garage back to the city.

Once the HCIA sells the garage property for more money, the city will receive the amount paid above the $7.9 million. The city is currently anticipating $5 million in this year's budget, but hopes to receive much more once the property is sold. They have to act fast, as the budget year ends June 30.

There were those in the neighborhood that worried that the city would approve an out-of-scale project because of city's rush realize revenue from the sale of the property.

In an attempt to alleviate those concerns, Mayor David Roberts, last year, formed the Observer Highway Advisory Committee, a group of local residents and two City Council members, to discuss and come up with recommendations for possible zoning in the area.

The group has met regularly for the past six months.

Compromise deal

The plan that was unveiled this week was a compromise deal that takes into account the advisory board's desires to build a Hoboken-scale project, and for the city need to generate revenue.

"This is a true compromise, where a little bit of pain felt on both sides," said Lane Bajardi, chairman of the Observer Highway Advisory Committee said Wednesday night. He said that "in a perfect world" the committee would have liked to have seen the project be a little shorter and less dense, but the compromise plan is acceptable to the committee.

"There has been a give and take along every step of the process," Bajardi said. "We believe that we now have a plan that minimizes [the negative] impact, while maximizing the city's expectation for value and revenue."

Councilman Richard Del Boccio, who was one of the two City Council representatives on the Advisory Committee, said the redevelopment is a good compromise.

"We really worked hard together and have come up with a fine project," DelBoccio said.

Councilman Ruben Ramos Jr. added that the plan will allow the city to reap at least $25 million from the project. Of that money, $12.9 will go towards paying back the HCIA, and for budgetary relief this year. The rest, said Ramos, could go toward buying property north of the 14th Street Viaduct for park space and to build a new garage.

The next step

Now the plan has been sent to the city's Planning Board, which will review it Monday. Then the redevelopment plan will go back to the City Council, which will introduce an ordinance enacting the redevelopment plan.

That could happen as early at next Wednesday's City Council meeting. Once the ordinance is introduced and advertised, there will be a public hearing, and could a final vote at the follow council meeting.

A copy of the full redevelopment plan is available on the city's website at

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