Last night the Hoboken Planning Board granted unanimous approval for the “Preliminary Site Plan and variance review for proposed new five-story mixed-use building with 5,700 sf of retail space on floors 1 and 2, 9 residential units on floors three through five and two accessory apartments with 1 parking space each in rear of on Court Street [sic].”
The address of that proposed building is 107-111 Washington Street—a location that caused quite a flare up when it was rejected back in April by the Hoboken Zoning Board, as the reported tenant for that space was Danny Meyer’s beloved burger joint, Shake Shack.
The initial proposal for the location, which currently sits as a parking lot serving Walgreens, sought a 14-unit building with retail space on the ground floor. The revised proposal that was approved last night is still five stories, but with 9 units, a mezzanine incorporated into the retail space and some other major structural upgrades.
“This is a better building than what we presented to the Zoning Board,” says architect John Nastasi. “We’ve put in a carriage house on the Court Street side, which maintains the historic feel of Court Street—meanwhile enclosing the garbage storage, so that isn’t an issue for neighbors.” He adds, “More importantly, we’ve incorporated a glazed courtyard, which satisfies the 20% open space requirement and should serve as a great outdoor seating space for any restaurant.”
When the first plan was tossed by the Zoning Board, First Ward Councilman and now mayoral candidate Michael DeFusco deep fried the decision on social media.
“Those in our city’s government, elected or appointed, who view community development as a negative need to realize that smart planning makes our city more livable, creates urban vibrancy and expands the tax base,” said DeFusco, via facebook. “To that end, a commissioner on the zoning board referred to shake shack (ranked recently by Food & Wine as one of the best burgers in the USA) ‘just another burger joint’. Whereas the central business district could’ve gained a world class restaurant and a building that generates taxes for the entire City, my neighborhood will instead continue to live with an empty lot.”
The shakeout was passionate, bordering on surreal, with members of the community claiming #FakeNews, and assailing DeFusco and hMAG alike for spreading
fries lies about the Shake Shack connection. Meanwhile legions of hangry Hobokenites voiced their displeasure with the Zoning Board’s perceived rigidity over what many felt would be an invigorating addition to town.
In fact, Zoning Board member Phil Cohen decried the decision, stating on facebook: “Well I thought that bringing a Shake Shack to Washington Street in a beautiful, modern building that would replace the unsightly surface parking lot next to Walgreen’s was an exciting opportunity for Hoboken and its business district, but unfortunately the majority of my colleagues on the zoning board didn’t see it that way and denied the application.”
At the time, Shake Shack released this statement via twitter that distanced themselves from the project…
@hMAG @CityofHoboken @mike_defusco @JerseyDigs @HobokenGirlBlog @TotallyHoboken @HobokenInc @hobokenmenus @dontsithome @HudsonCoView @Gothamist Hey Hoboken, no plans for this site or any other just yet, but we’re thankful for the support and hope to see ya soon!
— SHAKE SHACK (@shakeshack) April 21, 2017
However, hMAG had direct conversations with those involved with the project, all of whom explained that Shake Shack was in fact interested in the location, provided it could be built.
Now that 107-111 Washington has approval, we’ll wait and see.
“The Planning Board was very accommodating and understood the positive impact this project will have on Washington Street,” said David Weisfeld, VP of Development & Acquisitions for W Brothers Realty.
As for Hoboken’s Shake Shack, Weisfeld said, “We have not spoken with them since [April]. Now that the building is approved, we’ll be soliciting potential tenants.”
If it does all pan out, you may even see Mayor Zimmer in line waiting for her ShackBurger…
I think Shake Shack would be a great addition to Hoboken! Not sure of ZBA’s concerns but hope amended application could resolve the issues.
— Dawn Zimmer (@dawnzimmernj) April 20, 2017