After voicing conditional approval of a new waterfront parking garage for Stevens Institute of Technology on Wednesday, the City Council will create more requirements in the coming weeks that must be met for the school to go forward with construction. A vote is planned for the council’s meeting on May 5.
The school actually began carving out space for the four-level garage in the rocks just west of Sinatra Park years ago, but objections and lawsuits changed the size and scope of the project before zoning approvals were finally granted last year. Since then, objectors have asked the City Council to hear an appeal of the project.
It is “difficult, if not impossible” to find parking in that area during classroom hours. – Nino Giacchi
What is the plan?
Along with 436 parking spaces, the plan for the garage includes a front section facing the river housing three floors of classrooms, research labs, and seminar rooms.
The parking space will be used by students, faculty, staff, and administration from Stevens, and may also allow spaces for Hoboken residents attending sporting events at the nearby Little League Field and Sinatra Park.
Stevens Vice President of Facilities and Community Relations Hank Dobbelaar Jr. has said in the past that public parking will be offered if any spots are available.
A small structure on the roof of the garage will connect to the first floor of the Stevens Babbio Center for Technology Management, on Castle Point by River Street.
In granting the school the right to build, the city has been promised public access to open space on the roof, and a seasonal ice skating rink open to the public.
The entire facility will include 48,000 square feet for administrative and classroom space and 60,000 square feet for parking.
FBW, the group that has fought for public access, smart planning, and architectural continuity on the waterfront, has objected to the garage since the first plans were laid out around 2001.
Ron Hine, executive director of the nonprofit group, said last month that their main objections include re-routing Fifth Street at Sinatra Drive and the widening of Sinatra Drive, which Hine believes will decrease pedestrian safety on the waterfront.
The tenets of the waterfront group include making the waterfront pedestrian-friendly, maintaining view corridors and walking corridors of east/west streets that meet the waterfront, and preserving the character of the waterfront architecture, which is the face Hoboken presents to the New York City side of the Hudson.
“We’re not opposed to the garage,” Hine said last month, “[although] the design could be improved upon considerably.”
He is opposed to making Fifth Street turn to meet the garage before it meets Sinatra Drive, believing the design will dump exiting cars onto Sinatra Drive.
Councilman Nino Giacchi, who lives two blocks from where the garage will be built, said Wednesday that he would rather the garage dump cars onto Sinatra Drive than into the residential grid by Hudson Street.
He said right now it is “difficult, if not impossible” to find parking in that area during classroom hours, and that spaces only open up at night. He said that makes him believe that students are using Hoboken’s public parking spaces, and that can be alleviated by building the garage.
“I’m not here to tell you [the plan is] perfect,” he said.
Most council members agreed the garage is needed, but others had specific questions about other aspects of the project, like when Hoboken residents can use parking spaces, how much it will cost them, and whether retail stores will be added at the ground floor of the building.
The council did not take action on Wednesday, but told Stevens that they will approve the garage once the council can agree on a list of conditions.
The council will submit the list to Stevens in the coming weeks, and the matter will be voted on by the council at their May 5 meeting.
Timothy J. Carroll may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.