Hoboken Council moves forward unanimously urging Mayor to activate waterfront plaza adjacent to train station

Wasted potential is always a sad thing to see, but sometimes we have an opportunity to step up and do something about it -- that’s exactly the situation at Warrington Plaza.

This currently fenced-in, underutilized property is immediately adjacent to Hoboken Terminal, located just north of the NJT terminal and PATH entrance. Right now, it’s a place where vagrants congregate and a major waste of valuable waterfront space. Since taking office in the first ward, which comprises the terminal,  I’ve worked and advocated for a plan that will return this unique and historic plaza to public use.    

On January 17, I was proud to sponsor, and for the Hoboken City Council to unanimously pass, a resolution formally asking Mayor Bhalla to move the plan forward to meet the timeline of opening access to the waterfront and activating an outdoor marketplace and waterfront plaza, this year. It’s crucial that the city do its part to keep this project moving, especially when it meets the existing redevelopment plan for the site and when the conditionally designated developer has already expressed significant support for the idea.

The Warrington Plaza Market plan would transform the property into a retail and food service hub, a place where neighbors and commuters can walk to enjoy gourmet food and drink outside when the weather allows. It will create a prime opportunity for existing local businesses and new entrepreneurs to reach new customers and expand their businesses, adding much-needed revenue to our city.

Some history on the plaza, and what’s already been done:

In the 1980’s the plaza received state funding in the form of green acres money to enliven the space and turn it into a congregation point, steps from the second largest transit hub in the state.  At that time new pavers, lights, trees and a water fountain were all installed...all of which are now broken and the plaza is in utter disrepair.   After September 11th 2001, New Jersey Transit began using the space as a parking lot and much more recently, a fence was installed to completely shut out the public from a space that had been granted tax dollars.  

 Warrington Plaza in January 2018

Warrington Plaza in January 2018

This blatant misuse of public land was an issue so important to me that it inspired my run for City Council and after winning, I immediately began advocating for it.  I worked with all stakeholders and lobbied, and continue to lobby,  the concept and viability of an outdoor market and waterfront plaza.  Aside from returning public access to the water, this plan proposes a market area, develops a lush tree grove featuring a central dining area, provides a space for potential art installation and seating along the waterfront.  Though the 2016 planning document is preliminary in nature, it shows a vision that I believe is the correct step forward for Hoboken.  What is equally as important is that the proposal is entirely within the scope of the 2014 "Hoboken Yard Redevelopment Plan" which calls for a “Terminal District” - a place where retail and cultural uses are encouraged.  No updates to the existing redevelopment plan in terms of height or density will be required to activate the plaza, and costs would be covered by the operator via rents generated from the kiosks and vendors.

In April of 2017, LCOR drafted a letter to the City and affirmed a commitment to pursuing the rehabilitation and activation of Warrington Plaza for an interim outdoor market use, as part of their overall efforts to advance the Redevelopment Plan. In that same letter, LCOR indicated that due to the complexities associated with activating the plaza, that 2018 is a more realistic activation goal.  It’s now 2018 and it’s time to move this forward in line with the deadline that was indicated as possible.

All along, LCOR has maintained an ongoing dialogue with a French market operator who would like to open a year-round outdoor market similar to their operation at Manhattan’s Bryant Park, right here in Hoboken at Warrington Plaza.  You can read more about this potential operator here:  http://www.bensidounusa.com/

The Warrington Plaza plan is a win-win all around, and all we need now is for Mayor Bhalla to do what’s needed to move the project forward, THIS YEAR!  

Then, once we secure our outdoor waterfront plaza and activate an outdoor marketplace, I'll continue my advocacy for a permanent year-round indoor market at Hoboken Terminal -- a rent generating and privately operated business, similar to Chelsea Market in NYC or Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia.