Last night Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla sent out a community update on the Monarch settlement and proposed DPW Garage redevelopment plans. Below is the Mayor’s correspondence:
Mayor Bhalla Provides An Update To The Public On the Monarch Settlement
I write to update you on important developments pertaining to the Monarch settlement and proposed redevelopment agreement at our current municipal garage at 256 Observer Highway.
As some may know, my administration has been working diligently with Ironstate, the current owner of the Monarch waterfront property in Northeast Hoboken and the undeveloped portion of the 800 Monroe Street city block, to negotiate the City’s acquisition of both properties for the purpose of public, open space and a waterfront free from large-scale residential development. I’m glad to report that we are well on our way to making this a reality, while also relocating the City’s current municipal garage from its current downtown location to the North End.
Over the past three months, we have sat down with our professionals to finalize a proposed redevelopment agreement for the municipal garage site at 256 Observer Highway – the next, important step in this process – with Ironstate. The proposed redevelopment agreement provides greater detail to many of the proposed terms of the previous settlement agreement, along with additional terms:
- The transfer of both the Monarch waterfront property and the 1.45 acres of land at 800 Monroe Street to the City from Ironstate, for use as public, open space;
- The revitalization of the current dilapidated municipal garage site at 256 Observer Highway with 30,000 square feet of commercial and retail space and 321 market rate residential units, and 40 affordable residential units;
- The relocation of the current existing municipal garage to an area currently proposed to be in the North End, as opposed to a temporary lot at 13th and Adams;
- A time frame of three years for the City to vacate the municipal garage on Observer Highway to the new garage site;
- A transfer of $2.5 million to the City from Ironstate, to account for the difference in assessed value between the Ironstate properties being conveyed to the City compared to the assessed value of 256 Observer Highway;
- A transfer of $1,000,000 to the City from Ironstate, to conduct improvements and clean-up at the Monarch property, or any other public purposes connected to the agreements; and
- A transfer of $500,000 to the City from Ironstate if the City vacates the current municipal garage site in two years or less.
Simply put, this agreement includes substantial benefits for Hoboken that will offer major quality of life improvements. The ability to protect our waterfront from large-scale development, acquire 1.45 acres for a park at 800 Monroe, and to revitalize an area of downtown Hoboken is a once in a lifetime opportunity I believe we should seize.
On the City Council agenda on Wednesday is the proposed redevelopment agreement memorializing the terms above, as well as an amendment to the Public Works Garage Site Redevelopment Plan that will be introduced via ordinance on first reading. The proposed redevelopment plan amendment is required in order to accommodate the terms of the negotiated redevelopment agreement. If the redevelopment plan amendment is authorized by the City Council, it would then be referred to the Planning Board for a Master Plan Consistency Review and would then be referred back to the City Council for approval on second reading, potentially on May 19. If there are no setbacks, the City could acquire title to the Monarch and 800 Monroe properties by the fall of this year.
As indicated above, as a part of the agreement, Ironstate would allow the City to extend the time it could remain in the current municipal garage from one year as proposed in the previously adopted settlement agreement, to three, in order to allow for more flexibility to keep garage operations in place while a permanent garage is planned and built. This would save the City from a situation in which Ironstate would be ready to break ground on the mixed-use residential building at 256 Observer Highway, without the City having been relocated to a permanent garage. In exchange, the City would allow an additional 30 units at 256 Observer Highway as compared to the 331 residential units which were anticipated as part of the adopted settlement agreement. Even with these additional units, the maximum building height allowed through the adopted settlement agreement was not exceeded. Given this, I felt this compromise in the negotiated redevelopment agreement was in the best interests of the City to ensure adequate time to relocate our municipal garage.
To date, this is the most important set of votes before the City Council on this matter. If the agreement and redevelopment plan amendment were to be rejected by the City Council, it is certainly possible that Ironstate could move forward with development on the Monarch site in the near future. It is my sincere hope that the City Council will vote to authorize the redevelopment plan amendment on first reading, as well as the redevelopment agreement with the terms above, at Wednesday’s City Council meeting.
I encourage residents to come out to Wednesday’s (today) virtual council meeting on Zoom at 7:00 pm, to make their voices heard on these proposals.
Ravi S. Bhalla