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  • Terry Pranses

Support Alternative #4 -- Adaptive Reuse for the Records Building

Updated: Apr 14, 2020

One of many issues surfaced during the recent Hoboken Yards Redevelopment discussion is the fate of the historic Records Building. Due to concerns about the Record Building’s proximity to pedestrians and various workers, NJ Transit has prevented access to that immediate area within the Rail Yards. As different sewerage, Rebuild by Design and ultimately Hoboken Yards construction activities will need to be close-by, there is a need to identify the building’s next step quickly.

The City had scheduled a public input session for March 17, 2020. That would have provided a robust, community discussion of alternatives. With the COVID-19 crisis, that meeting, along with other public meetings, was cancelled. Although NJ Transit wanted the alternative reviews and decision to continue without delays, they are now hosting, on April 16th, at the City's request, a virtual public meeting to listen more deeply to public perspectives.

The City has prepared a recap of action alternatives here, along with a recent picture of the Records Building:

The City also provided a public survey for inputs on those alternatives, which range from stabilizing and rehabilitating the building to completely demolishing it. Even that demolition, with no salvaging of historic materials, would cost an estimated $1.2 million.

The RD-Task Force, reviewing the alternatives, favors #4 - “Adaptive Reuse”. This approach is actually a two-step one: The building would first be stabilized in place, then with public inputs, it would be adapted for a new use.

The City’s survey was closed at the end of March.

The City’s posting also includes a link to NJ Transit’s public inputs and comments page. Please be sure to comment there as well. In the project feedback scroll, you’ll need to scroll down to the "Hoboken Terminal" listing.

Our recommended #4 Alternative approach has been reviewed by New Jersey’s Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) and identified as a positive outcome for this historic building. It could be an important link to the past with increased visibility as the Hoboken Yards will be bringing new people to our downtown area. Alternative #4 has also received a positive evaluation by Engineer Donald Friedman, who specializes in historic preservation and structural engineering. His firm is Old Structures Engineering (OSE).

A six-page report he prepared mentions three other historic structures in similar condition which were effectively stabilized and made ready for adaptive reuse: the Winslow Lab at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, the former 17th Precinct Police Station in Brooklyn, and the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava in Manhattan.

D. Friedman goes on to note:

The conditions at the Records Building, as discussed in my previous letters, are no more unsafe than those that existed at the 17th Precinct and St. Sava when our work be- gan, and may in fact be similar to those at the Winslow Lab, where the damage was confined to the non-structural veneer of the exterior walls. It is likely that the condi- tions fall somewhere between those at Winslow and the 17th Precinct. Careful design of stabilization – if required – and coordination of safe procedures with the contractors and code officials are requirements for this type of project.”

You could mention the SHPO and D. Friedman reviews in your comments to NJ Transit and the City at the April 16th virtual meeting.

You can find detailed D. Friedman letters and reports on the Hoboken Quality of Life Coalition website:

For more on Mr. Friedman’s company and their work, you may visit:

Your inputs are very important … the actions taken with the Records Building are likely to serve as a precedent for future historic preservation decisions, in Hoboken and across our state. 

Many thanks for participating!

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