The Lackawanna Records Building was designed by noted architect Frank J. Nies and was constructed in 1904 by the Delaware Lackawanna and Western Railroad. It is located at the northern border of the NJ TRANSIT Hoboken Rail Yard along Observer Highway in Hoboken, New Jersey. Since the Records Building is the oldest surviving building associated with the Hoboken Rail Yard’s early 20th century rail facilities, it is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places as a contributing resource to the Old Main Delaware Lackawanna and Western Railroad Historic District.
The building has been vacant for decades and has not been used for its original or any subsequent function for many years. The exterior walls are bowed with wide cracks, and there is extensive deterioration of the roof, upper parapet stones, and corner roof turrets. Ongoing water infiltration exacerbates the deterioration. With a recent collapse of a portion of the roof parapet, inspections undertaken by several independent engineers resulted in the recommendation that the Records Building be demolished.
NJ TRANSIT’s top priority is ensuring public safety while respecting the historic significance of the building. To that end, NJ TRANSIT is complying with the requirements of the National Historic Preservation Act (Section 106). Key elements of the Section 106 process are to consult with the appropriate state and local agencies and interested parties to assess whether an activity affects those historic properties and if so, to determine an appropriate course of action. Consistent with the Section 106 process, appropriate outreach has and is occurring to assist the Federal Transit Administration, which is responsible for conducting the Section 106 review to complete their work. The following is a proposed schedule of activities related to this Project:
- Develop an Alternatives Analysis Report – Late February 2020
- Publish Newspaper Notice of Public Comment Period – March 3, 2020
- Conduct Hoboken Public Meeting – March 17, 2020 – RESCHEDULED – Out of an abundance of caution, and in light of two recent declared States of Emergency by the State of New Jersey and the Hoboken Office of Emergency Management regarding COVID-19, the Public Meeting on March 17, 2020, for the proposed demolition of the Lackawanna Records Building, is rescheduled.
- Conduct Hoboken Public Online Meeting – April 16, 2020
- Finalize Preferred Alternative – April 2020
- Implement Preferred Alternative
The Records Building, located at the border of the Hoboken Rail Yard along Observer Highway, is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places as a contributing resource to the eligible Old Main Delaware Lackawanna and Western Railroad Historic District. On July 31, 2019, NJ TRANSIT identified a partial collapse of the roof parapet of the building and, following assessments by in-house and consultant structural engineers that determined the building to be unsafe, it was cordoned off with no entry allowed. On January 3, 2020, NJ TRANSIT received a notification of an unsafe structure from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, Division of Codes and Standards that ordered demolition of the building by end of June 2020.
During March and April of 2020, NJ TRANSIT made information regarding the condition of the building, along with an analysis of potential alternatives to demolition, available for public review and comment, and a virtual public meeting was held on April 16, 2020.
Acknowledging both the public safety hazard associated with the current condition of the Records Building and the historic significance of the structure, NJ TRANSIT has worked with the City of Hoboken, and NJ TRANSIT will deconstruct the building in such a manner as to salvage significant historic materials and elements and safely store them for potential future reuse. Photographic and narrative recordation of the building is ongoing. Signage detailing the planned approach to deconstruction and salvage has been placed near the Records Building. NJ TRANSIT anticipates that deconstruction will start in mid- to late- September 2020 and end mid-November 2020. The City of Hoboken and NJ TRANSIT will continue to consult and coordinate regarding the disposition/reuse of the salvaged building materials.