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I was at the meeting last night, which consisted of the Hoboken Historic Board committee, the developer, his lawyers and the architect representing him and neighbors (with their lawyers) and concerned citizens. About 20 people in a hallway on the 2nd floor of City Hall.

They not only switched, at the last minute, the night of this meeting, but adding to the confusion, they switched WHERE they were meeting to the 2nd floor!!! I found out AFTER the meeting that people got confused and left City Hall.

Now the consipracy theorists may be up in arms here, but I do have some good news.

1. The committee absolutely wants to see the building restored.
2. Members of the committee seriously questioned the need for condos to restore the Bank.
3. The public gave other examples of historic commericial real estate that was developed into profitable properties without the need to change the zoning from commerical to mixed used commerce/residential.
4. We had two lawyers there representing concerned citizens that both denounced the residential project, also stressing that the public bought their homes next to a commerical structure, not a mixed used residential/commerical structure. We would like to keep the building intact, and used for commerical purposes.

Here's a few bad points I need to point out:
1. This is classic - the architect said, "The building is deteriorating. In the last 2 years there has been rapid structural issues and the building is falling apart. We need to do this project to protect the building from falling down." Everyone there was incredulous! We basically said, "The owner BOUGHT a historic property. It is HIS JOB to make sure that such a property DOESN'T fall down and you cannot hold the City of Hoboken's feet to the fire about HIS RESPONSIBILITY to keeping a historic structure intact." Fucking idiots.
2. The owner never looked at any other possibility of funding the restoration of the Bank except for his mixed use commercial/residential idea. In other words, they keep howling how they can't restore the Bank without building condos, but never looked at any other way of restoring the building, either. One of the members of the committee pointed out that there are grants available on the state and federal level to restore historic properties. But the owner didn't like all those "restrictions" that went along with such grants, and kept shaking his head "no" when it was brought up.
3. The owner is clearly an curmudgeon. He was rolling his eyes at every valid point that people brought up about protecting the structure and keeping the integrity of the neighborhood intact. It was clear to anyone in the room that this guy was angry that people were against his money hungry proposals. Very snippy with anything that the public said and very nice and polite to the council.

There is simply no support by the public here, and many members of the commmittee seriously questioned this project. Everyone loves his idea to restore the Bank and how it could be made to look, but mostly everyone agrees that adding residential units on top of the building isn't in the best interest of the community. The owner is trying to get thirteen - THIRTEEN - variances for this property.

One really good one? They want a liquor license for the 240 seat restaurant they want to build. We already have Nag's Head which is less than 100 feet away from the Bank, and First street has Mulligan's, O'Donohughes, Buskers and McSwiggan's. Cool, that's exactly what we need on First street - another loud bar with patrons spilling out on to the street (and some driving!) at 3am on the weekends, while the residents are trying to sleep.

Another variance? They want valet parking. Anyone been around First street? Its very crowded with traffic. Can you imagine cars lined up for valet parking? Where are they going to park the cars? In parking lots that are already overcrowded? How do the valets get from the parking lot BACK to park more cars? Run 5 blocks? Its insanity.

The guy has some ridiculously bold ideas about what he "envisions" but doesn't make a practical case of how this block is going to support a 240 seat restaurant (oh, they are doing catering, too, which i'm sure will be great when their trucks stop by to pick up deliveries on Clinton and double park to block traffic.) and a 6 story residential building.

Bottom line is these guys have very little support from what I could gather from listening to the council members and even speaking to some after the meeting. More questions were raised at the meeting about how the developers plan to protect the facade of the building with new construction and what steps they have taken about doing this. There is another meeting scheduled for July 10 to address this and next week's meeting with Hoboken Planning Board is postponed.

If you are free July 10th, the meeting starts at 7pm, but they don't get to us until the end of the meeting (like 8pm). We certainly could use your support. Thank you to everyone who showed up last night.

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This page is a archive of entries in the Home category from June 2007.

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