Hoboken now finds itself at a critical crossroad, as two very different views on the best way to develop the Maxwell House property present themselves. The first, and furthest along, is more of the same, much more of the same. 950+ housing units with parking for 1600+ cars. The second, details of which are not even known by the majority of the Hoboken population, is vastly different from anything seen in Hoboken to date.
The project currently trying to work its way through the approval process at City Hall will unquestionably add to the density issues Hoboken is currently faced with. It will include 120+ foot elevations pushed right up against the property-line along Hudson Street between 11th and 12th. These buildings will be much higher and closer to the street than any of the site's current structures, which will clearly have a negative impact on the light and air available to many of the residents of the West side of Hudson street along this stretch. The developers claim that everything they are proposing fits within the letter of the current Hoboken Zoning ordinances. Anyone who has attended any of the recent Planning Board meetings at which this project has been discussed, has seen the developer's counsel doing its "delicate dance of spin" as it argues against any of the issues and concerns raised by the members of the Planning Board and public. The fact that so many aspects of this project have to be argued by a lawyer should be ringing a loud alarm bell. Is this project appropriate at this stage of Hoboken's development or perhaps more accurately, overdevelopment?
Stevens Institute has an entirely different idea of what this parcel of land could contain. They want to build only 1/3 as many housing units, office space for cutting edge technology companies, restore the Elysian baseball field, and a 6th thru 12th grade state of the art math and science high school. Oh and one more thing, the plan will incorporate many of the existing Maxwell House structures. This project will be less dense, more diverse, provide more open space, and add more value to Hoboken as a whole than the current proposal on the table. This proposal offers more positives than can be listed here, but one of them does deserve more attention.
The current state of Hoboken's schools is one of the main factors causing Hoboken families with school-age children to move out of Hoboken and into the suburbs. Why pay high taxes for a school system that continually disappoints? A school of this type would serve as a strong draw to keep Hoboken families in Hoboken. This school will be a part of the Hoboken school system, not compete directly with it. This school will be highly innovative, following the International Baccalaureate Curriculum, and will also offer some classes for adults. In a word, this is HUGE.
So¼ we are being offered a choice. Another dense housing development, not knowing how much worse congestion in Hoboken will get when the projects already approved under the previous administration are built, or a state of the art math and science middle / high school, more public-open space, cutting edge tech companies, and less new housing and congestion.
In the coming months, Stevens will be holding several meetings throughout the Hoboken community to explain their plan in more detail and answer questions anyone may have. I urge everyone to attend one of these. The HHSC will be sponsoring a community meeting during the first half of January. We will post an ad in the Hoboken Reporter as to its exact time, date, and location, or you can inquire via e-mail to HHSC07030@yahoo.com for details. Hoboken residents are being given an option that most are not even aware they have. I strongly urge the Planning Board to take notice, and do what is best for the greater good of Hoboken.