As a hoboken resident I say he is full of shiat.
This will NOT help with hoboken, a place with traffic problems up the wazoo already.
This is a money issue, not a skyline issue here.
Taller and thinner, take two
Council to weigh pros and cons for amended hotel plan
Hoboken Reporter staff writer 04/11/2004
The Hoboken-based Applied Companies have approached the City Council to request permission to modify its plans for a 275-room luxury hotel that will be built on the city's southern waterfront.
For the second time in 16 months, the developer is requesting to build a taller and thinner building than was approved for the site which runs along River Street between Second and Third streets. The developer currently, according to the redevelopment plan, has been approved to build a 16-story, 160-foot tall building. They are now requesting to build a 275-foot tall, 25-story Hotel. A final vote on the issue could take place as early as the April 21 council meeting.
In December of 2002 the city approved increasing the building's height from 125 to 160 feet, in exchange for a taller, less dense building. At that time, raising the height from 12 to 16 stories was controversial. Now they are back requesting a second height amendment.
The developer's planners and Mayor David Roberts believe that a taller, sleeker building will be a much needed anchor for the Hoboken skyline. Instead of a bunch of background buildings that create a canyon on River Street, the city would have an architecturally significant beacon that would break-up the mile-square city's skyline.
But approval is not a slam-dunk. The deviation from height restrictions is always a visceral, hot-button issue. Those who oppose the amendment worry that a 25-story building, which would be the tallest in the city, is entirely too tall and not on the city's human scale. The critics, who came out in numbers at Wednesday night's council meeting, also worry that too many zoning concessions are being made to the developer, without enough benefit being provided to the city.
One point that is central to understanding this issue is that the city is getting the hotel if it accepts or rejects this amendment. The actual waterfront proposal, including a hotel, passed nearly a decade ago. A hotel will eventually be coming to that location. The council, and virtually every member of the public, thinks a hotel is a good use for the site, and would be a welcomed addition to the city's waterfront.
The council is simply deciding if changing the building's design is beneficial or detrimental. If the council were to vote down the proposed amendments, a 275-room hotel would still be built there, it would just be a shorter, wider building.
Right now it appears as if there are enough votes to pass the amendment. Roberts' five council members, Council President Ruben Ramos, Jr., Councilman Richard Del Boccio, Councilman Christopher Campos, Councilman Michael Cricco, and Councilman Nino Giacchi are currently supporting the amendments.
Opposition members Theresa Castellano, Carol Marsh and Tony Soares are solid no votes, and Councilman Michael Russo, whose father was mayor when the Southern Waterfront Redevelopment Plan was first stuck, has said that he is on the fence.
The developer's case
Wednesday night, the developer presented to the public their reasons for requesting to change the redevelopment plan. David Barry, President of Applied Development Company said that the amendment does not increase the number of rooms or density, but does open up view corridors to the river and increase open space, light and air on Third, River and Sinatra streets.
According to Barry, the proposed amendments are requests from their architect Charles Gwathmey of the New York firm Gwathmey Siegel Architects, architects of modernist landmarks ranging from the minimalist addition to Frank Lloyd Wright's spiraling Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Miami. His firm has also designed Morgan Stanley's worldwide headquarters at Times Square.
Gwathmey was a finalist in the competition to design the buildings at the World Trade Center site. He was part of the so-called "dream team" of New York architects that also included Richard Meier, Peter Eisenman and Steven Holl. While taste is obviously subjective, Gwathmey is certainly considered by nearly every expert in the field to be in the upper echelon of the world's architects.
A W Hotel likely
Applied has also reached an agreement with Starwood Hotel and Resorts to manage the hotel, and has announced its intentions to bring a W Hotel to the site, although that is not completely finalized. The W Hotel chain is owned by Starwood, which is based in White Plains, N.Y, and operates other hotels including the Sheraton, St. Regis and Westin chains.
The change in design, said Barry, would facilitate the development of a full service luxury hotel, such as a W. The developers believe that this is an opportunity for this building to be iconic building on the city's waterfront. "From the start, the goal of the development team was to create the finest hotel in New Jersey, an instant landmark, which would complement and create an identity for Hoboken's skyline," said Barry. "To this end, we retained world renowned Gwathmey Siegel Architects to be the project architects and executed a letter agreement with Starwood Hotel and Resorts to manage the asset."
Hoboken Mayor David Roberts has come out with strong support for the project and supports the amendments. "Since I became Mayor, I have worked to bring a luxury hotel to Hoboken. It reflects Hoboken's standing as a premier destination in New Jersey and the New York metropolitan area," said Roberts. "The hotel will be a major economic catalyst and anchor for our waterfront and downtown." According to data supplied by Starwood, the hotel would create 200 permanent jobs.
The while the amendments would not change the gross square footage it would add about 35,000 square feet to the mechanical or "back of the house" square footage, according to the developers. But it is important to note that the proposed amendment would also not change the building's footprint. The bottom 40-feet of the project would be the same as the plan that is already approved, and would cover most of the lot. It would only become thinner at the 40-foot mark.
Opposition on council
Councilman Soares said that this taller project is not right for Hoboken. "It's in the wrong place," said Soares. "What draws people to Hoboken is its human scale, but this is completely out of the city's character." He added that the city really isn't getting enough in return for the concessions that are being given. "We're going higher but we aren't getting anything more in return," said Soares. He added that developers are too often given huge zoning concession without giving anything the city in compensation.
Castellano has even stronger words of disdain. "This makes me so angry," said Castellano. Castellano accused the administration of bending to every whim of developers and questioned when this building going to stop growing. She said she supports a hotel, but just a smaller one. "It is entirely too big," Castellano said. She also questioned who this change really benefits, Hoboken residents or New Yorkers who will be looking at New Jersey. "I think we're making these changes solely for New York's benefit," said Castellano.
Plenty of opposition
Before it was even announced that this amendment was even going to be on the agenda, several local community groups, had planned to protest and picket another development project slated for 800 Jackson St. More than 100 people protested in front of the steps of City Hall.
When word broke that the hotel was going to be on the agenda, the protest quickly evolved into one that also opposed this project. Many in attendance said that it is troubling that just over a year ago the developer requested to go higher. At the time that was controversial and sparked heated debate. Now they are back for more.
"This kind of development is out-of-character for Hoboken," said Ron Hine, the director for the non-profit Fund for a Better Waterfront. "It just grows taller and taller. A 275-foot tower on Hoboken waterfront is completely inappropriate." Hine and many of those in attendance said that Roberts has too often given in to the demands of developers at the expense of the city as a whole.
Master planner approves
Bolstering the city's case was a presentation by John Shapiro, a partner from the planning firm of Phillips Preiss Shapiro Associates, Inc. The city has hired the firm to guide the board through the process of creating a new Master Plan for development. The process included more than a half dozen public workshops over a one-year period.
This idea was a particularly shrewd move by the city because Shapiro, during the public master planning process, has gained a great deal of credibility from many of the people who currently oppose increasing the height on the southern waterfront. In fact, many of those who oppose these changes, are strongly lobbing the city to adopt and implement the master plan that Shapiro helped craft.
Even by his own admission, Shapiro said, his professional opinion about this project would not please many of the friends that he made during the master plan writing process. "In my professional opinion the trade-offs warrants a higher building," said Shapiro. Shapiro added that the proposed amendments are consistent with the current draft of the master plan. He said that the project promotes economic development, being a non-housing use that is semi-public, and that the Master Plan even states that the location selected is an excellent spot to put a hotel, because of its proximity to the city's transportation hub. He said that one of the mistakes of the city's waterfront design is that it is currently made up of, what architects would call, background buildings. He said that a taller building would be a break in the line a similarly sized buildings.
"It will be a vertical statement on a horizontal plane," said Shapiro. He added that it would also become a landmark building for Hoboken's waterfront. "Gwathmey's reputation will be on the line for this project because it will be one of the most visible buildings on the [New Jersey] waterfront," said Shapiro.
But while Shapiro said conceptually he liked the proposed building better, there are several aspects, he said, that the city should investigate first. He said the city should get more detail on how the pedestrian areas would be designed. He said that it is imperative so that the property is inviting to those who walk. Second, more detail should be given about the River Street facade, to insure the building's appearance is acceptable there, and not just the waterfront side. He also said the city should see a study that will show exactly what the impact the building's shadow will have on the surrounding neighborhood.
As a hoboken resident I say he is full of shiat.
This will NOT help with hoboken, a place with traffic problems up the wazoo already.
This is a money issue, not a skyline issue here.
Oh, one other thing. Hoboken's infrastructure is another consideration that has not been addressed.
Last year (or was it the year before, I think two years ago, yes) there were rolling brownouts in the city due to overtaxing the power grid. Also, we have a leaking sewerage system (arount the southeast corner of the park) and we only recently replaced a drainage main up by the intersection at the top of town (by the Exxon station, Dykes lumber, the entrance to the Lincoln tunnel and the back entrance to "The Waterfront" in Weehawken.).
They need to address the strain a 275 room hotel will bring on the roads, sewers, power lines, PARKING and other things.
I was wondering what that protest was all about (Friday?). Now I know what it was.
Thanks for the info!
Hoboken lets hotel tower build higher
Council vote is 5-4 during overflow session
Saturday, April 24, 2004
By Maria Zingaro Conte
Journal staff writer
HOBOKEN - Following a raucous public hearing, the City Council voted 5-4 to allow a new waterfront hotel to rise 100 feet taller than called for in the building's original plans.
The vote on the project prompted hundreds to turn out for Wednesday night's meeting to weigh in on the project. Both proponents and foes of the proposal packed the council chambers to capacity and spilled into the adjoining hallway as they waited for a chance to speak.
The 25-story hotel will distinguish itself from surrounding structures, making it an icon of the Hoboken waterfront, supporters say. The improved design will also help to entice a world-class hotelier to operate there, they said.
But opponents say the building will be too tall and will ruin the look of Hoboken's waterfront, blocking the light and encroaching on the open space there. The project will also wind up costing the city money, they noted.
Although a hotel operator has not yet been officially named, developer David Barry of the Applied Companies said negotiations are continuing with the upscale W Hotel chain.
"We set out to create one of the finest hotels in the world on that site on the southern waterfront," he said.
The hotel plans were designed by Gwathmey-Seigel & Associates - the architectural firm that designed the Morgan Stanley headquarters in Times Square. It is planned for River Street between Second and Third streets, completing the redevelopment of the city's southern waterfront.
The wedge-shaped building will afford unimpeded waterfront views to about 80 percent of its 225 rooms and 50 residential suites. It will also contain a 5,000-square-foot banquet hall, meetings rooms, a spa and several restaurants.
The project received the support of Mayor David Roberts, and the council's vote fell along pro- and anti-Roberts lines.
The mayor's allies - Council President Ruben Ramos Jr., along with Councilmen Chris Campos, Michael Cricco, Richard Del Boccio and Nino Giacchi - all supported the project revisions, saying the new plan was aesthetically superior to the old.
Voting against the project were council members Theresa Castellano, Carol Marsh, Michael Russo and Tony Soares, who said the city would be hurt financially by the hotel deal.
Although Wednesday night's vote raised the permissible building height from 175 feet to 275 feet, the structure's total square footage will increase by only about 30,000, officials said, because the building will also be narrower than originally planned.
The taller, thinner structure would bring more light and better air circulation to the street level, they said.
Many in the crowd who were there to support the hotel plan waved red "W" cutouts and wore black baseball caps inscribed with the W Hotel logo.
The new building, they said, will help bring jobs to the city, revitalize the local economy and add a measure of prestige to the Mile Square City.
"I can't think of a better fit for Hoboken than a W hotel," said Craig Goldstein, a Willow Street resident. "I have friends from all over and I can't wait to have this hotel so I can put them up here."
Others cited the economic benefits the new hotel would bring to the city.
"I truly believe this will stimulate the economy for business owners in Hoboken without a doubt," said Hudson Street businessman Gilbert Flores.
But opponents of the project said the added height would not generate additional revenue for the city because of a tax abatement deal the developers struck with the city.
"The citizens of this town are getting ripped off," said Park Street resident Dan Tumpson, a former mayoral candidate.
"Have the developers pay their fair share."
Objectors also said the building would be too tall and accused the project's council supporters of re-reneging on the building plans - approved a year ago, also amid controversy - which brought the building to 17 stories, up from an original 14-story height.
"These guys seem to consider a signed contract as a first offer," Grand Street resident Michael Lenz said of the building's developers.
Ron Hine, the executive director of the Fund for a Better Waterfront, an organization that opposes the project, was shouted down when he charged that city leaders had given the developers a sweet deal in return for nearly $45,000 in campaign contributions given during the last election cycle.
"This is called pay to play," he shouted over the crowd. "There's not a level playing field. This is absolutely wrong. This shouldn't be happening."
Castellano expressed similar dismay over the project. She said she had told her First Ward constituents - people who will be directly affected by the new building rising in their neighborhood - not to even bother attending the meeting to fight the project because it was already a done deal.
"It doesn't fit into what the fabric of Hoboken looks like," she said. "I lament for our city. I lament for our waterfront."
Maria Zingaro Conte can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 2004 The Jersey Journal.
July 20, 2004 09:01 AM US Eastern Timezone
W Hotels Moves into Hoboken and Announces a New W Hotel and Residences; Charles Gwathmey to Design Hotel
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--July 20, 2004--Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE:HOT) announced today plans for a new W Hotel along the Hudson River in New Jersey. Scheduled to open in September of 2006, the W Hoboken Hotel and Residences is the fourth W residence property of its kind to be announced in the U.S. following the W Scottsdale, W Fort Lauderdale and W Dallas, and the 26th hotel to join the brand's growing portfolio. The 225-room Hotel and 40 luxury Residences waterfront property will be developed and owned by Applied Development Company, New Jersey's premier developer, owner and manager of residential real estate. W Hotels is the industry's fastest growing collection of world-class design hotels.
The award-winning architect group, Gwathmey Siegel & Associates, whose renowned work includes the renovation and addition of the acclaimed Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City, will design the 25-story waterfront property that will be a striking landmark along the beautiful waterfront. The property will feature W's celebrated comforts including the signature W Living Room experience, a bar with amazing Manhattan views that will be the first scene of its kind in Hoboken, a destination restaurant, a 5,000 square-foot Bliss Spa and a fitness facility and include more than 11,000 square-feet of meeting space.
The hotel will be ideally located on the Hudson River waterfront with unobstructed views of the Manhattan skyline, and quick ferry access will give guests a chance to experience the energy of the city without being confined to it. The hotels central location is also near the Meadowlands Sports Complex, Newark-Liberty International Airport and the heart of downtown Hoboken's entertainment and nightlife.
"We are thrilled that the first W Hotel and Residences project to debut in the northeast will be designed by world renown design firm of Gwathmey Siegel. The property will surely be a key centerpiece of the ongoing, exciting revival of Hoboken's downtown and waterfront district," said Starwood Chairman and CEO Barry S. Sternlicht. "The magnificent views of Manhattan's skyline and stunning waterfront setting and the ability to do a perfect W with all its components make this the perfect site for our next W."
"Hoboken is delighted that W has chosen our community as their first site in the State of New Jersey," said Hoboken's Mayor, the Honorable David Roberts. "This further validates our city's reputation as an important destination in the New York metropolitan region and greatly enhances the value of our southern waterfront."
The W Hoboken Hotel and Residences will offer the opportunity for a select group of homeowners to purchase luxury hotel condominium residences that have all the benefits of being attached to a W Hotel. Owners of the W Residences will have full use of all the W Hotel's facilities, as well as have options of 24-hour room service, daily maid service, and concierge services.
W recently announced its first hotel in Europe, the W Barcelona, and will open two international hotels in the coming months, the W Seoul-Walkerhill later this summer and the W Montreal in September. The W Maldives-Fesdhu, W's first resort, is scheduled to open in 2005, followed by the W Dallas in 2006 and the W Fort Lauderdale in 2007. Currently, there are 18 W Hotels brandwide in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, San Francisco, Seattle, Honolulu, Silicon Valley, San Diego, Atlanta, Mexico City and Sydney.
Starwood operates thirteen hotels in New Jersey including the Sheraton Meadowlands Hotel & Conference Center, The Westin Princeton at Forrestal Village and the Sheraton Atlantic City Convention Center Hotel.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with more than 750 properties in more than 80 countries and 110,000 employees at its owned and managed properties. With internationally renowned brands, Starwood is a fully integrated owner, operator and franchisor of hotels and resorts including: St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, Sheraton, Westin, Four Points by Sheraton, W brands, as well as Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., one of the premier developers and operators of high-quality vacation interval ownership resorts. For more information, please visit www.starwood.com .
© Business Wire 2004
Fits right in....
I would have prefered it if it were Black Glass, or perhaps brick.
It looks like one of those Trump Residences in Miami, however Im still excited to be getting a W Hotel in Hoboken.
I'm not. Not really, although we DO need a hotel here.
1) It still does not serve as a place where people, even from a modest upper middle class income, could comfortably afford to stay. (Visiting family, or Stevens Student/Graduation).
2) They SAY it is tall and skinny to avoid blocking the waterfront, but what the heck is that thing next to it? A circus?
3) It looks a little clunky.
Anyway, that site there would be the perfect spot for a park, but naturally Hoboken does not have the money for something like that. We get parks on Piers where your soccer ball or frisbee can go for a swim, but inland a bit where you have a "safety zone" AND enough room to have more than one soccer field? Nope.
Complain complain complain.
It is better than an undeveloped lot.
Maybe we can get the Jets Stadium!!!! :P
The owners of Amada's Restaurant were planning to open a Bed and Breakfast last spring on Washington street, but the city refused their application. I think it was pressure from Starwood who wanted to be the only choice in town.
It is unfortunate that the room rates will be out of reach for some families in the area. However most people I speak to are extremely happy about it being a W, especially since it will have a Bliss. And with the going prices of property in Hoboken, having a high end hotel is not out of line. It's just too bad that it will be the only choice.