Purchase price of $18.5 million to be paid to NY Waterway; deed will be amended to conform to Open Space Trust Fund ordinance

FBW | January 22, 2024

A Consent Order for Final Judgment signed by Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Jablonski on January 11 has granted to the City of Hoboken clear title of the former Union Dry Dock & Repair Co. property at 901 Sinatra Drive for the purpose of creating a public park and completing one of the final gaps in Hoboken’s continuous public park along the Hudson River coastline. 

In November 2022, the City and NY Waterway finalized a settlement, brokered in part by Governor Murphy’s office, that allowed the City to acquire the disputed 8.36 acre site via eminent domain. In this case, City of Hoboken vs. Port Imperial Marine Services (NY Waterway), the Consent Order spelled out the terms of the settlement agreement. These terms will now be fulfilled, including the following: 

  • The City of Hoboken’s $13.36 million from its Open Space Trust Fund (OSTF) deposited with the court in 2022 will now be released to NY Waterway. 
  • The City will pay an additional $5.14 million to the ferry company to bring the total amount to $18.5 million, the agreed upon purchase price for the site.
  • The lease agreement between the City of Hoboken and NY Waterway went into effect on December 1, 2023. The lease allows for the storage, repair and refueling of the ferry fleet at the former Union Dry Dock property while a new maintenance facility is built in Weehawken.

The term for the lease will run for three years with an option to renew for an additional two years. NY Waterway, however, will be unable to begin operations there before July of this year due to NJDEP regulations that prohibit driving piles from December through June.

This past October, the Fund for a Better Waterfront (FBW) filed a motion to intervene in City of Hoboken vs. Port Imperial Marine Services. The following month FBW withdrew its motion after reaching a settlement with the City. The settlement preserves the public’s right to a referendum on the future sale or lease of properties acquired with the City’s OSTF, which would include any new lease granted at the dry dock site. 

The settlement with FBW also requires the City to amend the deed to include language that the Union Dry Dock site was acquired with funding from the City’s OSTF. The OSTF ordinance states that funds for the acquisition of lands are “exclusively for recreation and conservation purposes.” 

After NY Waterway purchased the Union Dry Dock property in November of 2017, FBW joined forces with the City, neighborhood residents and civic groups to pressure the governor and NJ Transit to locate a ferry refueling and maintenance facility elsewhere. In June 2021, after a hard-fought, multi-year battle, Mayor Bhalla and Gov. Murphy announced a settlement agreement that would allow the City of Hoboken to acquire the site for use as public parkland.

At the end of 2022, the City of Hoboken hired a professional team to design the park comprised of 3.15 acres of land and 5.21 acres over the Hudson River. The mayor has stated that he anticipates the first phase of the park, which he named Maritime Park, to start on the unleased portion of site in 2025. In the interim, the City and NJDEP will use the unleased portion of the site for a staging area for construction of the Sinatra Drive Project and the flood mitigation Rebuild by Design project. This year, the next portion of Hoboken’s waterfront park will be built at the Weehawken Cove as part of the City/NJDEP Rebuild by Design project. 

FBW has petitioned the City to include the Union Dry Dock property on the NJDEP’s Recreation and Open Space Inventory (ROSI). This would add yet another protective measure to ensure that ultimately the entire site will be used for public parkland and that NY Waterway must vacate the property at the end of its lease.