HOBOKEN, NJ - Come on in, the water's fine. That was the message sent by the Hoboken City Council as they voted 8-1 Wednesday to approve the latest Western Edge Development Plan put forth by Block 112/Pegasus Partners, in which the City will see an increase in affordable housing, new housing for veterans in need, an infusion of funds for various community projects, and last but not least—a municipal pool.
“I’m extremely pleased we have adopted a redevelopment agreement that provides for robust community givebacks, especially funding that will be allocated for a new community pool,” said Mayor Ravi Bhalla. “The combination of this much-needed public amenity, along with 37 units of affordable housing, open space, and critical flood mitigation will add substantial quality of life benefits to our mile square. Thank you to Fair Share Housing, the Hoboken American Legion, the City Council and the Office of Community Development for working collaboratively together on this project.”
Block 112 is located between 13th, 14th, Jefferson and Madison Streets. Pegasus Partners have been working to bring innovative new design to that area since 2012, with a previous plan shot down by the Hoboken Zoning Board of Adjustment in 2014.
This current redevelopment agreement includes $3 million towards the design and development of a community recreation center with a public pool—a project that has been a notorious political football locally.
Addressing concerns on affordable housing, the Block 112 agreement will reportedly put 20 units on-site, as well as 17 units of housing for homeless veterans at the newly redesigned Hoboken American Legion on 2nd Street and Willow Avenue. Those added units there will also bring in additional support directly from the Veterans Administration, who will then provide social services for those residents.
"We must always honor those who served our great nation, not just with words but through our actions," said American Legion Hoboken Post 107 Commander John P. Carey. "The words 'veteran' and 'homeless' should never appear together, so I thank Mayor Ravi Bhalla, the City Council, and Mark Villamar and Hany Ahmed of Pegasus Partners for their partnership on the second phase of housing for our veterans suffering from homelessness."
“Fair Share Housing Center is pleased that the City of Hoboken is taking positive steps to follow through on the settlement that FSHC and Hoboken achieved that will ensure that the proposed residential development in the Western Edge abides by the City’s affordable housing requirements,” said Adam Gordon, Executive Director of Fair Share Housing Center. “These steps will lead to the construction of at least 20 new homes that are affordable to Hoboken’s working families as well as 17 new homes for homeless veterans. These affordable homes are desperately needed in one of the most expensive housing markets in the State."
The Fair Share Housing Center had filed a lawsuit against the project in early June, but that suit has been withdrawn. Gordon says, "At a time when New Jersey is reckoning with entrenched systemic racism and facing an unprecedented economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is encouraging to see Hoboken correct course and step up to seize an important opportunity to ensure that new residential development in the fast-gentrifying city does not consist solely of very expensive, luxury units but includes homes that are affordable to families of all races and income levels.”
The design for Block 112 calls for over 5,000 square feet of public, open space to be maintained by the developer. In an effort to fight ongoing flood concerns citywide, an on-site stormwater storage/underground detention system will hold up over 165,000 gallons of rainwater. Furthermore, bioswales and rain gardens will capture water—reportedly surpassing Department of Environmental Protection mitigation standards.
Fourth Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos, stated “I’m excited about the opportunity to add to our affordable housing stock as well as continue to work to add sorely needed community benefits such as a swimming pool and community center. This will allow us to help rehabilitate the existing Multi-Service Center without losing any services.”
The agreement revitalizes over 1.8 acres land in Northwest Hoboken, providing for 322,700 square feet of residential density along with 24,500 square feet of commercial retail space.
“It has been a dream of many to have a community recreation center and a community pool in the 5th Ward,” said 5th Ward Councilman Phil Cohen. “With the City Council’s approval of this revised Western Edge Redevelopment Agreement, we are now $3 million closer to realizing the dream — without imposing on Hoboken's taxpayers. This revised plan is several stories lower, and more than 80,000 square feet less dense than originally permitted, including critical flood remediation features in a LEED-certified, energy efficient building, in our flood-prone Western Edge, and the welcome addition of 37 affordable housing units for our city, exceeding what is required by our affordable housing ordinance.”
The developer must present final site and engineer plans before the Hoboken Planning Board prior to construction. Meanwhile, the City of Hoboken will soon initiate public meetings to solicit input on potential locations and designs for the recreation center and community pool.
"What transpired was a happy coincidence," said Pegasus Partners' Mark Villamar, who is also a ranking member of the Hoboken American Legion and spearheaded the Post 107 redesign. "I got to work at my day job, meanwhile implement the second phase of the Legion project. It was the right combination of factors, and everyone benefits—things couldn't have been any better."
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