The City of Jersey City has announced plans for a $6.7 million overhaul of the Newark Avenue Pedestrian Plaza, the third streetscape upgrade in recent memory.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
The Pedestrian Mall was first closed to vehicles in 2015 as an experiment to limit traffic and create a pedestrian destination.
The plaza was expanded to a second block in 2018. Then, during the Covid-19 pandemic, it was expanded further to Grove Street between Montgomery Street and Christopher Columbus Drive as well as 1st Street and Newark Avenue.
“The creation of the Pedestrian Plaza was a risk our administration took when first elected as there was significant pushback, but I think over time it has become clear to everyone that the changes we made there have attracted more people, allowed more businesses to open, and created a destination spot for visitors and residents,” Mayor Steven Fulop said in a statement.
The Newark Avenue Pedestrian Plaza upgrade comes after two other major investments in main streets throughout Jersey City on Central Avenue and West Side Avenue.
“This is a great move on the mayor’s part. This is a win-win for all involved, and the quicker we start, the better,” added Historic Downtown Special Improvement District Executive Director Rachel Sieg.
“We’re looking forward to construction start, with the pandemic this is only going to help our local businesses. I’m thankful that the Mayor pushed this through so that our struggling restaurants and businesses can benefit and recover more quickly.”
Following a thorough design process, which included several public meetings to incorporate community input, the project was openly public bid, and a resolution will go before the city council tomorrow to award a contract to JC Contracting Inc. in the amount of $6.7 million.
The upgrades include granite pavers to replace the green painted asphalt and elevate the street level to match the sidewalk for a more cohesive structure with greater stroller and wheelchair accessibility.
Decorative trench drains will line the existing curb, rain garden tree planters will be installed, and café lighting will be added for improved visibility, while a stage area will also be constructed for community events.
“These are extremely challenging times for so many of us business owners, and so I’m especially grateful to have this type of support from the city because this is what is going to make the difference for us,” noted Kenny Caulfield, co-owner of The Ashford.
“This makes us more of a destination. What has happened over the past few years here is breathing new life into Jersey City, and this permanency will bring us to a new level as a sought-after destination, with businesses attracting more businesses.”
The Jersey City Council will convene via Microsoft Teams tomorrow at 6 p.m.