The two positions espoused in the Letters to the Editor section of 8/19/01 Hoboken Reporter serve as good background for us to better explain the benefits of this important development.
The development plan we are presenting to the Hoboken Planning Board is the culmination of two years of research about the waterfront property that extends from 12th St. to almost 10th St. between Hudson St. and the river. We have held numerous meetings with community groups and countless one on one meetings with interested citizens to make sure this project meets the community's goals and those outlined in the zoning ordinance. Our philosophy has always been that good real estate development is good community development.
Our plans changed from the earlier proposal that saved some of the factory structures in response to strong opinions voiced by the community for an open waterfront park and the Zoning Ordinance's requirements to optimize the traffic efficiencies of the site, create a consistent development block pattern and create view corridors. The earlier proposal included two brand new five-story buildings with parking garages on the pier and the peninsula (both of which currently have buildings on them) and the total restructuring of the existing building on the platform (whose shape could not be replicated under current state regulations for view corridors). The original plan only kept parts of the structures of four of the existing factory buildings on the site. None of the existing facades would have been kept due to their structural stage of collapse. Of these four buildings, three were located within the pier area that under the current plan will mostly be donated to a park conservancy group and the rest will act as the waterfront roadway system. The amount of waterfront parkland being donated is unprecedented for a private development along the Hudson riverfront.
The current development plan, which conforms fully to the City's zoning ordinance and therefore requires no variances, incorporates principles in site planning and design that have been supported strongly by the community at large. The desire for no pier development has been one of the opinions voiced the clearest. Mayor Roberts, as a Councilman more than a year ago, sponsored an ordinance not to allow construction on piers. His resolution supporting a zoning code change prohibiting construction on piers was unanimously approved by the City Council. During the final months of the campaign, former Mayor Russo also came out with a statement endorsing the prohibition of construction on piers. In fact, this same sentiment eight years ago brought together many diverse groups in the community behind the desire for an open public waterfront with parks separated by a street from private buildings. This opinion was again recently demonstrated by the strength of opposition stirred up when the Shipyard developers brought a plan for developing housing on the Fourteenth Street pier before the Planing Board. This wish for an open public waterfront is not a cry from a small group of activist fundamentalist thinkers but rather part of the mainstream of Hoboken thinking.
The citizens have already started to reap the benefits of the public waterfront open spaces that have been created. The quality of the Hoboken's waterfront parks and esplanade being created is praised in a featured cover story in this June's issue of Landscape Architecture magazine.
Being dedicated to quality architecture and urban design a truly exceptional part of the community will be created. The carriageways of the streets have been designed to slow traffic and keep the area pedestrian friendly. The transition between what exists and what will be built will be a seamless transition from the existing Hoboken grid, scale and context.
The history of this site originally was that of a park. In fact Col. Stevens envisioned and developed a waterfront park allowing for riverfront recreation as an important amenity to Hoboken almost two centuries ago. Returning Hoboken's waterfront to the people keeps with a historical legacy that predates the industrialization of the waterfront. We welcome concerned citizens to contact us so that we can explain the many benefits of this project and how it is in keeping with Hoboken scale and densities.