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HOBOKEN, NJ-The city council here was all set, late last week, to approve a 650,000-sf office tower and companion hotel on a waterfront development site, but put off that vote until it has a chance to study whether the project is still too big, as critics charge. As it is, the 650,000-sf tower is still fully one-third smaller than the 950,000-sf office building that SJP Properties of Parsippany, NJ had originally proposed for the Port Authority of New & New Jersey-owned redevelopment site.

In delaying its approval, the council bowed to pressure from critics of the project, led by local activist Annette Illing, who asserted at the council meeting that the 650,000-sf tower was still 100,000 sf more than what is allowed under the tract’s redevelopment plan. The council’s delay is aimed at studying just how much space would be allowed.

The site is part of a three-block tract that has been reported as being zoned for between 2.3 million and 2.8 million sf of building space. Further clouding the issue is the fact that in different documents, the office tower’s has been variously pegged at 935,000 and 1.1 million sf. SJP officials say the larger number is the result of some “rounding up.”

The complex would sit next to SJP’s new Waterfront Corporate Center, a two-building, 13-story, 1.1 million-sf complex that features publisher John Wiley & Sons, which has already moved in, and Marsh & McLennan as anchor tenants (see earlier story). Besides the new office tower, the complex would include a luxury hotel to be developed by Starwood Heller and Allied Development Co., and operated by Starwood Hotels & Resorts.

The two new assets would effectively build out this city’s southern waterfront redevelopment tract, complementing the Waterfront Corporate Center and a series of residential complexes. After the council voted to delay approval of the project, Hoboken Mayor David Roberts commented to reporters that “I don’t view this as a setback.”

The city council did not announce a date at which the issue would again be brought up for a vote.

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