The possibility of a contiguous public waterfront on Hoboken’s Hudson River shoreline is within sight, as legal developments over the past few weeks have opened up opportunities on the last two remaining parcels of land.
The City of Hoboken announced it would pursue an agreement with Applied Development Company for the Monarch Property on the northern tip of Hoboken’s waterfront, where they had been planning to install two 11-story high rise residential buildings, in exchange for the chance to redevelop the Public Works Garage site downtown (256 Observer Highway).
Meanwhile, the City landed a hard punch in its very public brawl with New York Waterway this week, as Hudson County Superior Court dismissed the lawsuit filed by ferry company against the City over its imposition of a stop work order on the Union Dry Dock property back in February. Judge Jeffery Jablonski stated that New York Waterway’s claim of a pending regional transportation crisis would occur, as “unsubstantiated.” The regional ferry service provider faces what many claim is a self-inflicted need to vacate its current 25-acre ferry maintenance property in Weehawken. That land is being repurposed for residential properties, and was owned by Arthur Imperatore, Sr.—owner of New York Waterway.
In light of these plot twists, the City is putting forth a pair of resolutions to the City Council for the upcoming August 7th meeting—first is a resolution seeking authorization of the a proposed settlement of the Monarch dispute; the second is an ordinance to make an offer to New York Waterway for the purchase of Union Dry Dock, and acquiring it as park property through eminent domain, should there fail to be an agreement with the ferry company.
“Protecting our precious waterfront is of the utmost importance to my administration,” said Hoboken Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla. “I strongly believe it should be preserved for open space, not large-scale residential development or a heavy refueling station. If we don’t move forward expeditiously, we could lose the once in a lifetime opportunity to finally create public parks at these two waterfront sites. I ask the City Council for unanimous support on the Monarch settlement and eminent domain authorization for Union Dry Dock.”
Eminent domain has been thrown around before in the Union Dry Dock discussion, but was tabled in 2018 at the behest of Governor Phil Murphy, who had assured a more amicable conclusion. However, New York Waterway has shown little sign of yielding on the property it purchased in November of 2017, despite significant public outcry. Hoboken claims the appraised value of the property is $13.1 million.
In the tentative Monarch Agreement, Applied would gain 264,000 square feet of a transit-oriented rental building with 4,000 square feet of retail along Observer Highway, while agreeing to build and pay for a new, state-of-the-art Public Works Garage.
Fund For a Better Waterfront (FBW), which has been advocating on behalf of a contiguous public waterfront in Hoboken since 1990, has called these latest developments, “the moment(s) we’ve been waiting for.”
“The Governor’s failure to resolve the Union Dry Dock dispute—and there are a number of solutions/alternatives for siting this refueling/repair facility—leaves the City of Hoboken with no other option. The property needs to be taken by eminent domain to preserve it for the public’s use and to connect Hoboken’s public waterfront park at this critical location,” says FBW’s Ron Hine. “A resolution to the Monarch Towers dispute is finally in the works. The key is to work out a redeveloper’s agreement that will ensure sufficient funds are available to complete the park and walkway at this derelict site. It will cost far more than the $500,000 to $1 million currently committed.”
Wyclef performs at Hoboken Oysterfest and Music Festival on Pier A – September 17, 2016