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  • Terry Pranses

Continued Threats to the Records Building

Updated: Feb 17, 2020

The Responsible Development Task Force has a deep interest in preserving historic buildings and neighborhoods that help shape the Hoboken of today and tomorrow.

Ever wonder about that older, brick, 3-story structure with the steep roof?

It’s barely in the Rail Yards near the south end of Washington Street. To the east of the pump station. (More on the building, below.*) It seems to have had no recent upkeep from NJ Transit, the owner for now. It’s hard to imagine the full potential in this condition, but as a reference, go to Google maps, plug in 1 Washington St., and look across the parking lot and Observer Hwy. See the small copper turrets and steep roof on this 3-story brick structure.

Here's an update:

North Hudson Sewerage Authority has asked for access near the Records Building to address current issues. We have been told the countdown is real and work needs completion in summer of 2020. NJ Transit has denied access, citing the current weakness of the structure.

The City of Hoboken has included such parties as our Historic Preservation Commission, the State's Office of Historic Preservation and NJ Transit, the owner of the Hoboken Yards land, in meetings with other community representatives. We hope the outcome is to find a new, "adaptive reuse" of the Records Building. That requires funding for structural support during the NHSA work and Site 2 construction as well as funding to enhance the building for new uses.

Several concepts for successful reuse of the Records Building have been shared, but are far from any approvals.

The severity of the building's condition was officially noted in October, 2019. Ann Holtzman, the City’s Zoning Officer and Floodplain Administrator, notified members of the Historic Preservation Commission of a potential plan to demolish the Records Building within the Hoboken Rail Yards. This demolition possibility was raised by NJ Transit.

The City Administration has taken some initial steps to challenge the possibility that NJ Transit would remove that building from the Hoboken Yards. We thank Mayor Bhalla and Ms. Holtzman for their efforts. We urge substantial research on the building’s condition. We further hope that it can be stabilized, restored and find an adaptive reuse within the Hoboken Yards Plan.

The approved 2014 Plan includes the Records Building. The Task Force and many others in the community assumed it would be rehabilitated as part of that zone. Frankly, it has not been well maintained since 2014 or much earlier.

Please reach out to your City Council representatives as they review new plan options for Hoboken Yards!

*About the Records Building:

It was actually built prior to the existing and historic Hoboken Terminal! It was designed by architect Frank J. Nies, and housed the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad’s records for many years. Here is a bit more of the history of this unique structure, gleaned from an article in The Reporter on October 4th, 2005:

“It predates the Hoboken Terminal, and began to crop up on city plans by 1904. Described as an English Victorian gothic revival structure, the Record Building, with its red brick façade, humbly marks the entrance to the Hoboken train station at the foot of Washington Street and Observer Highway.” Here’s a link to that article with further background:

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