The scandal surrounding New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has another twist, and this time, a development by The Rockefeller Group could be threatened. Mayor Dawn Zimmer has asserted that Christie officials forced her to support the project — which she should have done anyways — and she is now publicly attacking the Governor. The ensuing battle could ensnare Rockefeller’s proposal in the process.
In addition to The Rockefeller Group’s project — which is on the city’s northern end — Hoboken’s transit terminal is also being redeveloped. The common thread between the developments is a lack of mayoral leadership and the fostering of barriers against growth, rather than the creation of solutions that could benefit the entire community.
Hoboken Terminal has seen little press, but the proposal is impressive, and would convert vacant, unused railyards into a thriving mixed-use hub, in a plan devised by SOM. The entirety of the development would comprise nearly three million square feet of new space, adding over five acres of parkland in the process, but approval has been held up by NIMBY politics. Nearby residents prefer that the land stay dilapidated and unused.
In addition to the actual development, NJ Transit’s PDF of the project indicates it would create 11,000 new jobs, and generate $15 million in additional yearly tax revenue for Hoboken. The plan is split between nearly 1.3 million square feet of residential, and 1.5 million square feet of office, with an additional 162,000 square feet of retail space.
The Rockefeller Group’s plans would be a similar boon to the city, and the proposal — which has not been publicly revealed — is worth $1.1 billion. Rockefeller will build 1.8 million square feet of office, as well as 300 condominiums and 85,000 square feet of retail space. The redevelopment would be an economic boon to the community, which suffered enormously during Sandy.
While it is unfortunate partisan politics are clouding the development’s future, it is clear that Hoboken could stand to benefit from the project’s completion. If Mayor Zimmer had actual foresight, the allegations against Christie would not have come at the end of a bandwagon that began in Fort Lee, and perhaps she could have bartered additional development rights for funds to protect Hoboken from climate change during the negotiation process.
Indeed, at Hoboken Terminal, concessions were made during the proposal phase, and the overall scope of the plan was reduced; the community was heavily involved in the discussion, which resulted in the current, scaled-back version.
Despite knee-deep evidence, NIMBYs in Hoboken have failed to notice that rising sea levels pose a greater threat to the city than anything else; while locals may be fighting development, the real threat comes from the Hudson River, which caused enormous flooding during Hurricane Sandy.
Combined, Hoboken Terminal and the Rockefeller project promise major benefits to the community, providing a crucial injection of capital following the city’s submersion at the hands of Sandy. But protecting Hoboken from additional storm surge events is crucial, and seems to have been ignored by city leaders. There is room for a solution that benefits everyone, and it would include coastal defenses to protect the city.
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