The award will be presented at FBW’s Connect the Waterfront event this Thursday, October 22. You can purchase tickets on this webpage.
By Ron Hine | FBW | October 18, 2015
The FBW Riparian Award was established to honor individuals who have made a special contribution to the Hudson River waterfront. This year, FBW has selected local real estate developers Daniel Gans and George Vallone of the Hoboken Brownstone Co. to receive this award. As the original developers of the Maxwell Place project, they were instrumental in creating the 4-acre Maxwell Place Park.
For Hoboken residents living uptown, there was the familiar smell of roasting coffee beans emanating from the Maxwell House Coffee plant. For many years, it was the largest employer in town. Erected atop one of its buildings in 1939, the “good to the last drop” neon coffee cup and Maxwell House Coffee sign measured 182 feet long and 75 feet high, providing a cherished landmark visible from the Hudson River and Manhattan. Following the demise of so many other waterfront industries, the plant closed in 1992. In 1998, Daniel Gans and George Vallone purchased the 14 acres of land and vacant factory buildings.
It was a development proposal unlike any other along New Jersey’s Hudson River “Gold Coast.” The developers submitted their application to the Hoboken Planning Board that included the 4-acre waterfront park, clearly delineated from the upland development blocks by Sinatra Drive North. Daniel Gans and George Vallone agreed that the parkland would be donated to the City of Hoboken and thus become a vital link in Hoboken’s continuous, public waterfront park, first proposed by FBW in 1990. The developers agreed to finance the construction of the park and establish a revenue stream from the project to pay for its maintenance.
The original plans unveiled by the developers were quite different, designed by planner Jane Thompson who was noted for her festival marketplace projects. The residential development covered the entire site and reused many of the old factory buildings. At the unveiling of this plan, FBW objected, saying that it would thwart the opportunity to continue the public waterfront park along this site. Gans and Vallone agreed to discuss the matter and thus began a year-long collaboration with FBW and its professional team.
FBW brought to the table land conservation specialist Andrew Strauss, planner Craig Whitaker, landscape architect John Imbiano plus a marine engineer and land use attorney. By the end of the year, a new plan was ready to submit to the Hoboken Planning Board. This plan included the waterfront park and new buildings on four upland blocks, essentially the same number of units but built more efficiently. The project conformed to all zoning requirements.
To their credit, Daniel Gans and George Vallone bought into the vision for a continuous public waterfront park. There was some opposition from the community but FBW and the developers stuck with the plan. Today, it is a wonderful asset for all, enjoyed and used intensely. Today, the completed portions of Hoboken’s waterfront park greatly enhance the value of the residential and commercial projects that face them.
The park includes a natural beach, a public boathouse, an earthen peninsula that provides a path for the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway and a children’s play area. The Hoboken Cove Community Boathouse uses the boathouse and launches its free and publicly-accessible kayaks from the beach.
Daniel Gans and George Vallone formed the Hoboken Brownstone Co. in 1980. Their company has distinguished itself by the artistic restoration of urban neighborhoods from Hoboken, NJ to Philadelphia, PA. The Hoboken Historic Commission awarded the company its first two Historic Preservation Awards for new construction projects in Southwest Hoboken.
Last year, the FBW Riparian Award went to architect/planner Craig Whitaker who developed the FBW Plan for the Hoboken Waterfront. In 2012, FBW presented the award to Henry Arnold who designed Pier A Park and the linear park from Newark to Fourth Streets at Hoboken’s South Waterfront.