The Jersey City Council will consider using eminent to domain to convert 50 Journal Square into a park next to the Landmark Loew’s Theatre, a topic that was discussed during yesterday’s caucus.
By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View
“I know Rich [Boggiano] had some concerns about this,” Ward F Councilman Frank “Educational” Gilmore said in the absence of the Ward C councilman during caucus.
Business Administrator John Metro said the administration worked on addressing this.
“We did look into the councilman’s concerns. We’re trying to use this for public domain for a public purpose, not necessarily caring about developers’ potential benefit. The idea is in connection with the Loew’s, it would be part of the Loew’s project. Well over a $90 million renovation there,” he stated.
“There was discussion about the potential of a hotel or a hotel that’s adjacent to it. There’s no plans put before planning. It’s really just a concept. We don’t want to wait months or even years to, to potentially capture this land for the public.”
He continued that the valuation of the land, which was previously home to the Journal Square Pub and the Journal Square Lounge on the ground floor, is somewhere between $900,000 and $1 million.
“I know there was a couple meetings there. Who’s on the board of the Loew’s that we contact? I heard a lot of times that you know they’re not there? It goes back and forth. They may have representation,” added Council President Joyce Watterman.
“We can verify before Wednesday they’ve been communicated with. This is for acquisition. The actual build-out would come again before the council and before that board so they can see what it looks like. It would be a public gathering location. It is one parcel. It isn’t, per se, a park. There can be some greenery, and it would be in connection with the Loew’s,” Metro said.
Ward B Councilwoman Mira Prinz-Arey suggested carrying the ordinance so Boggiano could be present for the vote.
“Was there any harm in carrying over to the meeting in July? Just so he can be here for a vote?” she asked.
“Then plans might go into planning. And then we’re going to be burdened with lawsuits and litigation. We made clear when we sent a letter to the owners of the space that we’re looking to proceed with a public use for that,” Metro replied.
“I’ll speak to guys again before Wednesday before we do it. That’s where we are from the administration.”
In February 2021, the city announced that Devils Arena Entertainment would be taking on the $72 million Loew’s renovation with an anticipated 2025 completion date.
Then in October, New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) board awarded $42.7 million in tax credits for the project, as HCV first reported.
The second and final reading of the ordinance will be considered at tomorrow’s regular session of the council at City Hall, 280 Grove St., at 6 p.m. and the meeting will also stream live on Microsoft Teams.