(ABOVE: City of Hoboken photo)
With nowhere near as much fanfare as previous announcements, the odyssey of Hoboken’s waterfront Hilton took yet another turn last week when the City Council signed off on a new plan for the hotel.
Seven years ago, in 2012, the City of Hoboken designated the area near the main post office—which sits on the southern end of the city’s waterfront, adjacent to the train terminal—as being “In Need of Rehabilitation,” based off a 1990 model put forth by Fund for a Better Waterfront.
In what has been a circuitous bureaucratic journey spanning administrations, KMS Development Partners has been treading water on this project since 2016. They eventually presented the City with “givebacks” last October in exchange for permission to finally move forward with their plans. That plan was derailed by Superior Court Judge Anthony D’Elia, ruled on March 26 of this year that “permitting a municipality to require givebacks… would create unacceptable possibilities for abuse and fraud and cannot be permitted for reasons of public policy.”
That ruling saw the City Council void the agreement in May, for fear of legal actions being pursued against the much-touted “givebacks” scheme. Nevertheless, the new plan will still see a significant investment in the Hoboken community on behalf of KMS—to the tune of $3.2 million.
“This is a great day for the City of Hoboken because this means that the waterfront hotel project is back on track,” Dennis Martin of KMS told Jersey Digs. “This redevelopment will be union built and operated, will fund major infrastructure upgrades, generate economic activity for local businesses, create good paying jobs for local residents and will become the gateway to the waterfront.”
The hotel plans include 350 guest rooms and 20 stories, as well as a 6,400-square foot rooftop terrace, gym, meeting and banquet spaces, plus on-site/off-site parking. The ground floor will accommodate a lobby bar, adjoining restaurant, and a retail space.
“Mayor Bhalla is pleased that the City Council adopted the updated hotel redevelopment agreement as put forward by the administration. The agreement maintains robust community givebacks agreed to by the redeveloper, that will provide a benefit to the City and residents,” said Hoboken City Spokesperson Vijay Chaudhuri. “While the givebacks have not been identified at this time, it will have a direct connection to the impact of the hotel project as it advances to comply with the judge’s request. The funds for the community givebacks will be deposited into an escrow account and will be disbursed once the givebacks are agreed to by the redeveloper and the City.”
Part of the judge’s ruling on the previous agreement held the stipulation that any sort of payments from the developer need to be used for improvements in the vicinity of the hotel property. KMS has long expressed its desire to renovate the Hoboken Post Office as part of their agreement. While that plan will move forward, payments to other organizations that were set to benefit from the previous plan will now be rerouted into that escrow account.
“Planning for the Hoboken Community Center remains on track and full steam ahead. The board retained a feasibility consultant last month, and we have already held stakeholder meetings with potential tenants and other users of the facility,” said Juan Melli, who serves on the Center’s board. “In the coming weeks, we look forward to gathering input from the entire community through a public survey that will help us refine the vision for the project. Ultimately, the renovation and construction of this new recreation and community space will require the partnership and collaboration of many organizations and stakeholders. We know that Mayor Bhalla is 100% committed to the renovation of the Hoboken Community Center and are thankful for his and the City Council’s continued support.”
As for the long-awaited Hoboken Hilton, its still not fully checked out of the bureaucratic process. The specifics of the hotel design must now go before the City’s Planning Board.