If this story sounds familiar to you, then you have been paying attention to our blog posts!
The big news is that, at long last, Hoboken has secured an agreement to acquire the final piece of its waterfront needed to create a city-long park. This was after an epic standoff with New York Waterway, the current property owner, who planned to use the land for boat repairs.
We can envision a park already! Although currently the 3.1-acre site sits unused, with abandoned machinery, vegetation growing through gravel, and gaps in the wooden piers.
It’s big news that the City and New York Waterway agreed to the $18.5 million sale which is halfway between the two parties’ valuations of the property. Hoboken appraised the property at $13.1 million and New York Waterways was at $24 million. The City will pay for it through its Open Space Trust Fund and a separate bond.
The piece of property being discussed in this post is the Union Dry Dock site which is located between Ninth and 10th streets. Acquiring it has been a steadfast city goal for years, because the fenced-off property interrupts the pedestrian green space spanning the length of Hoboken’s waterfront view of Manhattan. The argument by New York Waterway, and the ensuing fights, stemmed from the Waterway’s position that the site was an irreplaceable asset that was needed for a permanent ferry maintenance facility. The standoff led to the City starting eminent domain proceedings in 2019.
The site was part of land once bought by Dutchman Peter Stuyvesant in the 1600s from the Lenni Lenape tribe. Later, it was a shipping hub and a port of embarkation for World War I troops before being used as a ferry maintenance facility.
Where will the Waterway go? They are planning to create a permanent ferry maintenance and refueling facility in the Weehawken, which is actually what it has been informally using for years. Hoboken will launch into planning the park’s design while leasing the property to the ferry company until its new Weehawken station is finished, according to Mayor Ravi Bhalla.
As a bit of background, in 2017 Waterway paid $11.5 million for the property which Hoboken had been eyeing for a while. When the ferry company announced plans for a new boat maintenance and refueling facility, Hoboken officials said it pulled out all the stops to acquire the land.
Over the past few years, New Jersey Transit threatened to get involved and Waterway moved forward with the project by acquiring federal and state permits. The fight only seemed to escalate. It seems that the current status is with help from the state. “There were a lot of moving parts and it wasn’t a simple narrative, but I think the governor played an instrumental role a couple years ago making the policy decision that the state of New Jersey was not going to acquire Union Dry Dock and prevent the city from proceeding with eminent domain,” Bhalla said. “It changed the ground beneath us and changed the negotiating landscape.”
Planning of the future park and what will be included in it will be “resident driven;” and the City will hire a firm to help form the vision and will hold community meetings throughout the process.
We will keep an eye on this bit of news and hopefully will post pictures of the park one day!