2nd hotel would rise on Hoboken waterfront under post office plan

NJ.com- A second hotel would rise along the Hoboken waterfront, two blocks from PATH trains and ferries to New York on the site of the Sinatra Post Office parking lot, under a redevelopment plan announced by Mayor Dawn Zimmer.

The hotel would front on Sinatra Drive, between Newark and First streets, rising up to 160 feet tall, a height comparable to the neighboring 13-story office building just north of the site, but considerably lower than the 27-story W Hotel, which stands a few blocks uptown.

Waterfront watchdogs echoed the mayor's assertion that the plan would eliminate an eyesore -- the postal parking lot -- that now lies directly across Sinatra Drive from the popular and widely praised Pier A Park, a 5-acre oasis of lawn and jutting into the Hudson River opposite Midtown Manhattan. Instead, proponents said, the proposed hotel would breath life into a disused stretch of waterfront, while providing tax relief for homeowners and businesses.

The 86-year-old brick post office, an historic structure named for Hoboken's most famous native son, would remain in operation. Its parking and loading areas would be concealed inside a structure created as part of the hotel's construction, according to the redevelopment plan, which is posted online.

The hotel would be an L-shaped structure that would wrap around the rear of the post office, along Sinatra Drive, and it north side, along First Street.

The plan would also create additional pedestrian and bike access to Sinatra Drive, Pier A Park and the rest of the city's southern waterfront, via new sidewalks and bike lanes on Newark and First streets. And, the mayor said, requirements written into the plan would assure quality building materials were used, and shadows cast over the park were minimal.

"With the W Hotel often fully booked, there is a clear need for more hotel space for our families, friends, and everyone who visits Hoboken," Zimmer said in an announcement of the plan on Tuesday. "This world-class hotel would improve pedestrian and bicycle connectivity to our waterfront, replace an eyesore with a vibrant, active streetscape with public amenities, and also provide much-needed meeting and event space for our community."

The hotel would be developed by KMS Development Partners, which is in the midst of purchasing .4 acres of property from the Postal Service, according to the redevelopment plan.

No hotel chain has been named for the project.

The mayor and other proponents of the plan also noted that a hotel would bring in well over $1 million a year in annual property and hotel tax revenue, on what is now federal land exempt from property taxes.

The City Council will formally introduce the plan during its meeting on April 5.

City Council President Jennifer Giattino said in a statement that the hotel would, "bring tremendous benefits to the neighborhood, create jobs in Hoboken, and generate significant real estate and hotel taxes that will help to keep our taxes stable."

The chairman of the council's redevelopment committee, Peter Cunningham, said the hotel would help diversify the local tax base, and be a "win-win" for residents and businesses alike. 

The post office parking lot was designated an "area in need of redevelopment" by the council in 2012, the first official step in creating a plan for the site, known officially as the Hoboken Post Office Rehabilitation Area.

But calls for the creation of something other than the parking lot date back at least as far as 1990, when a waterfront development plan was drafted by the non-profit Fund for a Better Waterfront, the city's main Hudson shore watchdog group.

That plan also included an L-shaped building on the site of the postal lot, though its use was not specified. Members of the group applauded the mayor's announcement on Tuesday.

"The Fund for a Better Waterfront is quite pleased that a plan has been put forward," said its president, James Vance, who called the parking lot "an eyesore."

Vance cited estimates of the tax revenues at $1.75 million a year. And unlike condominiums or rental apartments, he said, a hotel would not add children to the local school district.

"I think the word is appropriate," Vance said.