Board Approves 47-Story Towers On Long-Vacant Lot

The Fort Lee Planning Board unanimously approved FLRA’s site plan for Redevelopment Area 5 East parcel, but not everyone was sold.

The Fort Lee Planning Board approved Fort Lee Redevelopment Associates (FLRA)’s site plan for the East parcel of the long-vacant Redevelopment Area 5 on Monday. , which the board approved unanimously, includes two 47-story towers with 902 luxury residential units, a 1.7-acre public park, a restaurant and a small movie theater, among other amenities.

“These buildings are going to be iconic in nature; they’re going to be a statement made that will be very beneficial to the community,” said James Demetrakis, the attorney representing FLRA, of the plan’s primary feature, the two roughly 500-foot towers.

But not everyone who attended the Planning Board’s sixth public hearing on Phase 1 of the massive development project on the 16-acre area just south of the George Washington Bridge were satisfied with how the process has played out.

Planning Board chairman Herbert Greenberg allowed public comment at the beginning of the meeting Monday because, he said, “a lot of people didn’t have an opportunity to make a statement” due to the length of many of the meetings.

“It has been made clear by both the borough counsel and FLRA that this project will move forward regardless of what the public wants,” said Fort Lee resident Diane Sicheri. “These proceedings have only allowed the public to give input on the kind of vegetation around the site and how many benches are in the park.”

She said things like traffic in areas “indirectly affected by the site,” how property values would be affected, the tax burden on current residents, the impact on already overcrowded schools, and the height of the buildings—something about which several residents expressed concern—do matter to her.

Greenberg said that given the “developers’ agreement between the governing body and [FLRA],” the Planning Board was limited in what it could address.

“Specifically, we can only address traffic, life safety and other elements like parking,” he said.

But Fort Lee resident Nina Levinson pressed forward with her concerns anyway, saying the height of the towers will “set a precedent” in the borough and pave the way for other developers to follow suit.

But not everybody in attendance was against the plan. board president Kenneth Bruno, for example, said GFLCC supports the plan.

“This blighted eyesore has sat vacant for nearly 40 years,” Bruno said. “The chamber sees the plan as presented as a great boon to the Fort Lee business community.”

Howard Tavin, a 45-year resident of Fort Lee, however, lamented, “the eroding of the quality of life” in the borough, and suggested the development would only make matters worse, especially given the potential impact on traffic.

“I feel we don’t need high-rises of this nature,” Tavin said.

Fort Lee resident Ruth Adler asked, “Has anybody considered the height of the building being too high?”

Noting that the length of the property is about 1,000 linear feet, and the towers are each only about 67 feet wide, Demetrakis said the project was in fact creating “a lot of open space.”

“If you want to be sensitive to the environment and sensitive to your neighbors, you try to create as much open space [as possible],” he said. “[FLRA] was looking to do something that would be beneficial to the community and not stifle the light and air and openness by making short, fat buildings. That’s the bottom line.”

He added, “You enhance the environment by going up instead of going low and squat.”

At a meeting scheduled for April 9, the Planning Board is set to review the next phase of the project—Tucker Development Corporation’s mixed-use plan for the West parcel, which would include an additional 475 high-rise residential units, a hotel, 175,000 square feet of retail space and another, larger movie theater.

The Planning Board is requiring FLRA to continue working with the borough engineer as a condition of approval, according to a NorthJersey.com report on the meeting, in which Greenberg is quoted as saying, “Is it exactly what we all wanted? I don’t think so. But is it something we could live with?”

delgado March 28, 2012 at 12:09 AM
The big issue is that the Republican Developer is also on the controversial Bergen Community College Board of Trustees, thus he is County Exe. Donovans little puppet and wil do what she says and in return Donovan will approval millions for county road expansions in Ft. Lee,, these Bergen Republicans are out of control..
Jack B Goode March 28, 2012 at 01:46 AM
Fort Lee is controlled by Democrats, has been for 16 years...The Developer is very good friends and a former business associate of the Mayor. Donovan had nothing to do with this project.
Thomas A Bennett March 28, 2012 at 11:29 AM
delgado, do you really not know that Demetrakis is a Democrat? A search of his Political Donations include many Democrats not one Republican. Ms Donovan is the Bergen County exec and she is a Republican. Get your facts straight and don't cloud the issue with nonsense.
Lee Rosenbaum March 28, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Fort Lee's monstrous, grossly inappropriate Twin Towers will certainly make "a statement," as Mr. Demetrakis says---a statement that Fort Lee is a community that prioritizes ratables over quality of life. These mediocre 47-story glass slabs are indeed "iconic," as the developer says---iconic eyesores. And the new residents, living in a floor-to-ceiling fishbowl, won't even get the benefit of balconies. Tinkering with the timing of the traffic lights may mitigate but will not cure the traffic headaches that this project (along with that on the West Parcel) will engender. Fort Lee certainly needed to do SOMETHING with this long-vacant lot. This isn't it.
William Mays March 28, 2012 at 10:56 PM
Delgado, you have no proof of any of those allegations.
William Mays March 28, 2012 at 10:56 PM
I think that they look good. Better than Horizon Towers, or any of the Med buildings, not to insult anyone that lives there.
Rona April 04, 2012 at 03:51 AM
I was just reading about the the new Revel Casino in Atlantic City it's 47 floors and considered the 2nd tallest building in NJ. The tallest is 30 Hudson Street in Jersey City. Thanks Planning Board of Fort Lee as dense as the town is it is needs 2 of these monstrosities adjacent to each other plus the GW bridge. C'mon who's getting paid here! I haven't heard about any reduction in the towns tax rates based on the presumed $10 million in taxes they will generate. That's because any raised revenue will find a home in some new expenses. Been a resident in town for 44 years this is absurd! I might not make it to 45.
William Mays April 04, 2012 at 03:22 PM
47 floors doesn't mean anything. Revel probably has a few floors, such as the Casino floors which have higher ceilings. 30 Hudson Street is the Goldman Sachs Building, I worked in that building for a year, and I can tell you that besides the lobby, the ceilings aren't very high.
Wening C September 17, 2012 at 10:22 PM


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