Bhalla calls land swap a ‘momentous day’ in Hoboken

In deal with Ironstate, city acquires last puzzle piece needed to complete waterfront walkway and preserve public access to waterfront

Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla said the land-swap deal was so big — and so important — to the city of Hoboken, that he was more than willing to share the credit for the success.

The main reason, he said, is because the biggest winners may be residents of Hoboken.

That was the feeling Thursday after Bhalla announced the city of Hoboken will officially acquire waterfront property in northeast Hoboken, known as “the Monarch” site, and an undeveloped portion of the 800 block of Monroe Street, during a deal with Ironstate Development Co. that will close Nov. 4.

The parcels will be developed into public open space, which will serve as the last piece of the puzzle that completes the waterfront walkway and preserves the public’s access to the waterfront.

As part of the agreement, Ironstate will acquire the city’s public works facility at 256 Observer Highway.

Ironstate, under President David Barry, will revitalize the property into a mixed-use development with roughly 30,000 square feet of commercial space and 360 residential units, 40 of which will be reserved for affordable housing. The development also will include a 60,000-gallon stormwater detention tank to help mitigate area flooding caused by heavy rain events.

Barry was going to use the Monarch site to build two 11-story residential towers.

“The closing marks a momentous day in Hoboken, symbolizing the stalwart determination of not just my administration, but previous administrations, current and former councilpeople, residents and waterfront advocates,” Bhalla said. “This deal is reflective of the city’s priorities to increase its resiliency and provide more open space amenities to our residents. I am proud to have negotiated this agreement on behalf of the city, and I thank the city council for their support.”

Numerous people welcomed the news.

Council members Emily Jabbour, Jim Doyle and Phil Cohen offered the following statement:

“For the better part of the last decade, protecting our uptown waterfront has been a major priority for us, and we are thrilled to have supported Mayor Bhalla’s efforts to once and for all acquire the Monarch property in order to preserve it for public open space,” they said. “We look forward to working with the community to revitalize this waterfront area and turn it into parkland we can all be proud of. We are grateful to the many resident activists who helped to make this historic day possible.”

Ron Hine, executive director of the fund for a better waterfront, agreed.

“The city’s acquisition of the Monarch property represents an opportunity to connect a significant, unfinished portion of Hoboken’s public waterfront, long delayed after a decade of litigation followed by several years of negotiations,” he said. “We have reached an important milestone.”

As part of the agreement, Ironstate will remediate the property by installing a cap of crushed stone that will alleviate ponding while the city engages in an open public process to design and ultimately construct a resiliency park. Further, the city will work with the Hoboken Arts Advisory Committee to wrap the property with public art displays by local artists.

Upon the closing, the city will have three years to vacate the public works facility, and is currently exploring options for property acquisition in the North End Rehabilitation Area for a new state-of-the-art public works facility that could potentially include a City Hall annex with expanded office space for the Hoboken Parking Utility and an Office of Emergency Management Command Center.

Additionally, the city will receive $3.5 million from Ironstate as a condition of the land swap agreement and the city could receive an extra $500,000 if it vacates the public works facility within two years of closing.