Hoboken approves $1.3 million Special Improvement District budget

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Hoboken’s mission to revitalize its local economy took a million dollar step forward Wednesday.

The City Council approved a $1.3 budget for its new Special Improvement District (SID), a citywide program that aims to enhance business prosperity through efforts such as marketing campaigns and street beautification.

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, who has spent years working to develop the district, called the budget’s approval a historic moment for the local economy.

“Our local businesses are the backbone of Hoboken’s economy and at the heart of what attracts people to live in and visit our urban village,” she said.

The budget is entirely funded by new property tax assessments on commercial properties and residential properties with more than four units. Rates vary from 0.81% to 3.33% depending on proximity to commercial streets.

Rose Markle, an apartment owner, said residential property owners like herself would not financially benefit from the SID and should not be responsible for helping pay for it.

“The true reality of why these apartment buildings are put in here is because they can’t meet the $1.3 million that they want to do this,” she told the council. “Why must it be such a high amount?”

Councilman Michael Russo was the sole vote against the budget, just as he was the sole vote against the initial SID plan. He said one of his concerns is how the tax on property owners can trickle down to their clients and customers.

Hoboken is not alone in implementing an SID. Neighboring Jersey City has seven.

“I’m thrilled that for the first time, Hoboken will now have dedicated resources to assist our small businesses through the adoption of the Hoboken Business Alliance’s budget,” Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla said in a statement. “Special Improvement Districts are a proven way to help revitalize local economies, and I have no doubt that our community will benefit from this dedicated funding source.”

A new group called the Hoboken Business Alliance is overseeing Hoboken’s SID.

Hoboken Yard vote postponed

A vote on the amended Hoboken Yard Redevelopment Plan for a section of Observer Highway near the train station was postponed, as was an amendment that would increase affordable housing in the city.

On Tuesday, the Planning Board officially deemed the redevelopment plan inconsistent with the city’s master plan because of the height of one of several highrise buildings.

LCOR, the project’s developer, is also now considering changing a planned apartment complex to a commercial building, Council President Jen Giattino said. Many residents who have voiced concerns about the project have said another residential building would worsen overpopulation in a city that is already stressed for parking.

Hoboken fire fighter Joe Grossi said there should be more communication between the city and the fire union during the planning stages of large developments. It would help the fire department to be prepared for associated safety challenges, he said, and cited the Hoboken Yard development as an example.

“Approximately 30 story towers commercial and residential buildings in the excess of 1 million square feet — that’s a potential extremely large area that we’re now going to be obligated to cover and respond to when we’re already spread so thin,” Grossi said.