There is a Hoboken zoning board meeting next Tuesday night, June 17th, to decide if a number of variances should be granted for a project proposed for 1300 Jefferson Street.
The complex would purportedly include a bowling alley. I’m not a bowler but I do love Brooklyn Bowl (in Brooklyn & now Las Vegas) and Rock ‘n Bowl (in New Orleans.) These venues offer live music in a fun atmosphere along with bowling lanes, superb food and beer. Have the developers ever been to these places? With the void created by the departure of Maxwell’s, I predict that type of music venue would be a huge success in Hoboken. If just an ordinary bowling alley – meh. The details on the 1300 Jefferson web site are a bit sketchy and contain many typos (which does not fill me with confidence.)
What really strikes me about the proposal, however are two things. First, are these rental buildings or condos? It is not clear from the website. People should ask themselves, do we, as a community, want to add additional “luxury” rental units to our housing stock? Are rental properties more likely to contribute to the future growth and improvement of the city in a positive direction? I find that “luxury rental” units tend to attract young singles, who share these properties with room-mates and, after a year or two, move on. The renters tend not to see Hoboken as their “home” and they don’t typically vote here. They have little vested interest in local affairs. Condo owners, on the other hand, have a significant investment at stake in Hoboken. They pay Hoboken property taxes. In my experience, they care more about Hoboken and the direction of its future. Would you prefer that this building be rentals or condos?
Second, the prevailing building height on the west side of town is 6 stories. This building is to be 12 stories, if the developer has it his way. The “proposed recreational” fields pictured on the diagrams are just that – merely proposed. There is no assurance that these surrounding lots will not also become 12 story rental apartments. Do you think Hoboken should allow 12 story apartments to be built in the part of town most subject to flooding? What about parking? Traffic? Density? What affect will 12 story buildings have on the surrounding buildings? It is interesting that the diagrams on the 1300 Jefferson website show the building drawn in a void. It almost looks as if the building is situated on a deserted island. I would like to see it drawn in the context of reality. Wouldn’t you?
Then there is the actual design of the building. While everyone is entitled to his or her opinion and taste is subjective, this architectural firm is known for designs that are avant-garde. Do we want such disparate structures so predominantly featured in our city? Would a more traditional design be more appropriate? I’d like to see something classic – along the lines of 15 Central Park West. Wishful thinking, I know, that Robert Stern would work in Hoboken. Do you think the proposed building is attractive? What are those trees in the windows? Are they also merely proposed and drawn in to make the building look greener?
If you are interested in the future of Hoboken I urge you to attend the zoning meeting on next Tuesday night and make your views heard.