Monday, September 26, 2016

Block 11 update

Drawings of proposed 5-story building on  Block 11, Lot 9 

The 2004 Master Plan envisioned Block 11 as "planned/possible new parks and recreation," of a future 6-acre Southwest Park.

Between then and now, the struggle to "save Block 11" for open space, has apparently failed.  

In fact, "Save Block 11" was the the Southwest Park Coalition's 2008 campaign to alert the public that the owner of Block 11 was seeking variances to build a 10-story high rise condo and future home of the Hoboken Historical Museum.

Then on, June 18, 2008 the City Council unanimously passed a resolution supporting the acquisition of Block 11 for open space.  From the Jersey Journal:
"The Hoboken City Council voted 9-0 to support the acquisition of Block 11 for open space and parkland -- and the crowd went wild. Ok, maybe not wild, but they did applaud with great enthusiasm.

The resolution authorizes the Planning and Economic Subcommittee to contact the owners of property on Block 11 and try to buy the land from them. The council hopes to buy it, but if someone won't sell they'll consider using eminent domain, or the kinder, gentler "transfer of development rights" which would give the owners land and development rights somewhere else in Hoboken.

A year later, when the Hoboken Historical Museum pulled out of the deal, the owner of Block 11 filed a lawsuit against Hoboken, demanding the city buy his property and pay him damages. From the Jersey Journal:
Last June, the Hoboken City Council voted unanimously to create a new open space zoning category, which would be applied to Block 11, the Henkel Site at 12th and Adams, and a few other areas. But at last night's Council meeting, the Council voted to "permanently table" the open space zoning ordinance.
This comes after the Hoboken Planning Board deemed the ordinance wouldn't work; it's not consistent with Hoboken's Master Plan and may be subject to a legal challenge. Subsequently Nat Salvemini, developer of the ill-fated Museum Place plan, is now suing the city over Block 11.

 What was wrong with the open space ordinance?

"You can't zone for parkland," Elizabeth Vandor, Hoboken's official planner, told Hoboken Now this past summer. "There are other ways of doing it but not through zoning."

Changing the zoning to parks will immediately decrease its property value, meaning the owner (Salvemini) would get less then if the city acquired the land through other means, Vandor said.
GA supposes that was the beginning of the end for City's acquisition of Block 11 for open space.   Or was it?

For anyone in the know, your comments are welcome.
Proposed building at Block 11, Lot 9 designated open space in Hoboken's 2004 Master plan 



Block 11 proximity to new Southwest Park ( Phase1) and proposed future open space


To the present; the triangular property on the corner of Harrison and Patterson Avenue, Block 11, Lot 9...

On December 15, 2015 the applicant for 5 story residential building with ground-level retail space was received preliminary site plan approval at the Hoboken Zoning Board of Adjustment.
Hoboken ZBA Agenda for December 15, 2015 


GA read the transcript (link here), and appreciate that the ZBA trimmed the building from 99% lot coverage to 75%, added open space (albeit for private use), and had the Paterson Avenue side of the building set back 3 feet to encourage the County to approve (4) proposed trees.

Thanks to the volunteer members of the ZBA for improving this project.

My two cents: I would not have supported the 10-foot height variance; it was the difference between 12 feet floor-to-floor and 10 feet-floor-to-floor.   Given all consideration for applicants, variances should be the exception not the rule.

Well, that's GA's Block 11 update.  So goes imagined open space, albeit a small triangle on a busy street.

13 comments:

  1. We should be thankful for what parkland we have been able to get but it discouraging that the loss of this block slipped by with no real public debate.

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  2. So the South West is getting a big 1-acre park but not getting this small non-adjacent much smaller piece of land?

    I'm okay with this.

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    Replies
    1. The original plan was to have this area used as the anchor for a pedestrian bridge over Paterson Avenue. It would have been a very nice addition but this building ended that. The City is working on expanding the open space now under construction to include the buildings adjacent and further West to the storage parking lot and making the proposed pedestrian bridge even more useful.

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    2. The plans I have seen from the Southwest Park Coalition show the park extending across Paterson. I think the hope was to reroute Paterson Pank to go along the light rail with a bridge connecting to Hoboken Ave on the other side of the NJ Transit tracks. Instead of a diagonal intersection, the grid would have been restored from first and Marshal down to Observer and Marshal.
      Even without teh reroute of Paterson Plank, If Marshall Street was reopened, it would allow the park to extend and connect to the other side of Paterson / Block 11.

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  3. is the 10 foot height variance just a flood trade off?
    Before Sandy the developer probably would have sought a variance to not include on site parking and the proposed height wouldn't be in question

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  4. No. It was proposed as an architectural design element. Architect's testimony, Transcript pp 21,22

    Frank Minervini: Building elevations, we are permitted
    40 feet above the design flood elevation, and our
    drawings are a bit older, so we actually show 12
    feet here as opposed to the 14 feet, which it
    currently is. But the building itself as we are
    proposing it is 60 feet from the roof, the top of
    the roof to grade, and that is because we have a ten
    foot ceiling at ground level, and that is two feet
    above grade, so that is 12, and then each of the
    residential floors we are proposing 12 foot floor to
    floor.

    The thought here was, and this gets
    into the architecture as well, so let's have this be
    as much an industrial, with the concept of it being
    a converted industrial building, hence the taller
    heights, and that plays into the architectural
    design.


    In terms of adjacent buildings in
    height, we don't see this additional height as
    having very much impact. Our planner will go into
    that. But the floors will meet the requirement. We
    are asking for an additional ten feet in height.

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  5. What they never figure into or say to the public is the height of the buildings is that it will be an extra ten or twelve feet higher the elevator and roof access add to the overall height of the building.

    Also, lets be honest the Minervini design of this luxury building has almost nothing to do with maintaing the industrial character of the area but that buzz word in the description helps the Board feel better about approving the project.

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  6. And the balconies display industrial character? It's another condo building that got a height variance for no particular reason.

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  7. You can't downzone or even zone parks. The city would have to take the land through domain. Maybe we should focus on the 10 Acre Cognis site and finish that and look to ways to finance the upkeep of the parks we have as well and completing the waterfront walkway and The Monroe Arts 2 acre park? Where is all the money coming from?

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    Replies
    1. It is a shame the plan for Block 11 could not have been realized. It would have been nice.

      I think the city has proven it is pretty good at multi-tasking.

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    2. The mayor rightly is focusing on large parcels like the Academy lot west and south of block 11. Block 11 was only a "nice to have" after the larger block were acquired.
      It's pretty stupid to focus on a tiny triangle and overpay to shutdown a business ( the taxi depot on the block still active would need to be relocate at city expense ) when we could get another 1-2 acres from the academy block that the Mayor is focusing on.

      This is a none issue that nobody in city hall has been talking about, what prompted this supposed "expose" is quite odd.

      A tiny park not connected to the larger park that would require a staircase, skybridge , Ramp or elevator to go over the street is really odd....

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  8. Does anyone know there any other plans in the works
    for buildings on that block across from the SkyClub ?

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  9. Not aware of any specific plans, but you have to assume that developers are inquiring. Both buildings are dilapidated and drag down the appearance of the surrounding area.

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