Is Hoboken Connect — transformative project talked about since 2007 — finally close to its groundbreaking?

NJ Transit board takes big step, approving ground lease agreement on project that intends to bring office, housing and retail to historic station

Hoboken Connect, the promised-to-be transformative mixed-use, multiphase transit-oriented development project that has been on the drawing board since Gov. Jon Corzine’s administration, took a step forward Tuesday when New Jersey Transit’s board of directors approved a ground lease agreement with LCOR Hoboken Rail Station Redevelopment.

The agreement could lead to a groundbreaking for a project first proposed in 2007. NJ Transit CEO Kevin Corbett certainly hopes so.

“The ground lease agreement approved by our board today sets the stage for an official ‘Hoboken Connect’ groundbreaking in the coming months, launching a project that will transform our Hoboken Terminal and its surroundings into one of the crown jewels of our system,” he said. “This project is one of several examples of our broader TOD strategy, both generating additional non-farebox revenues as well as driving sustainable growth through enhanced public transportation access throughout New Jersey.”

The project is a multiphased initiative that will consist of mixed-use development and public infrastructure improvements to the Hoboken Bus Terminal, Ferry Terminal Building and the area surrounding the rail station.

The private phase includes a mixed-use residential building consisting of 386 apartment homes with 20% dedicated as affordable housing (which will be facilitated by the ground lease approved Tuesday), a 20-story Class A office building with a rooftop terrace, 5,000 square feet of retail space and related public open space investments, including additional pedestrian, vehicular and bicycle improvements.

Public investments will include construction of a new bus terminal on Hudson Place, significant rehabilitation of the first and second floors of the Ferry Terminal Building for commercial and exhibition space, the redevelopment of Warrington Plaza, and improvements to Hudson Place to support bicycle and pedestrian access to the transportation facilities. Gov. Phil Murphy committed $176 million in the Fiscal Year 2023 state budget for the public improvement phase, which is advancing in parallel to the private components of the project.

These components will be implemented in coordination over the next several years, officials said.

Whether that happens remains to be seen. The last big announcement on the project came back in October 2022, when Murphy and others indicated a groundbreaking was imminent.

If Hoboken Connect does get underway, it certainly will bring economic benefits. The three proposed phases of the project will, directly and indirectly, support 5,840 jobs during the construction phases of the project and support an estimated 7,265 at full build-out once construction has been completed.

The ongoing economic impact of the project is estimated at over $2.08 billion annually at full build-out, with over $1 billion estimated in annual payroll. Upon completion, the development is projected to support an estimated 3,885 direct new jobs at the development within the city of Hoboken, driving local spending and ratables, while NJ Transit will benefit from non-farebox revenue ground lease payments, increased ridership and customer experience improvements.

Transit officials said the Hoboken Connect project is consistent with the NJT2030 Strategic Plan and statewide policy objectives. NJ Transit supports transit-oriented development land use patterns centered at its facilities to enhance economic development, housing diversity and affordability; grow transit ridership; enhance multimodal access to the transportation system; contribute to environmental sustainability; and maximize the value of its real estate assets.