The Jersey City Council is likely to consider a $110 million, 25-story, Downtown high-rise project with about 20 percent of their units allocated to affordable housing at next month’s meeting.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Hoboken-based developers Pegasus Partners purchased the property at 619 Marin Boulevard for around $7 million back in 2014, according to public records, and received initial approval from the city council back on June 26th.
The council okayed the first reading of the ordinance by a vote of 7-1, with Councilman-at-Large Daniel Rivera absent and Ward D Councilman Michael Yun voting no.
Since then, the Jersey City Planning Board voted unanimously (8-0) on July 23rd that the development went against the city’s Master Plan, meaning that they voted against the amendments introduced by the council the month prior.
However, the council still has the ability to approve the project with amendments when they vote on it.
The proposed plan currently calls for 25 stories, 362 market-rate units, 90 affordable units, 226 parking spaces and retail space on the ground floor, according to architectural plans obtained by HCV.
The project also has currently not asked the city for any sort of tax break or payment in lieu of taxes agreement and is estimated to cost the developer about $110 million, according to Pegasus Managing Partner Hany Ahmed.
Council President Rolando Lavarro confirmed that the plan is currently for the council to vote on this project at their September 11th meeting and that he is inclined to support any development that includes 20 percent affordable housing.
“I can say unequivocally that my support for 20% onsite affordable housing remains steadfast. There is an affordable housing crisis in Jersey City that requires the City’s urgent action,” Lavarro said in an email.
“We need to prioritize the basic necessity of having a roof over your head. Some necessities are more necessary than others.”
Additionally, the endeavor falls within the Jersey Avenue Light Rail Redevelopment Plan.
“The Jersey Ave Light Rail Redevelopment Zone has been blighted for roughly the last 40 years and we’d love to partner with the city and be a part of revitalizing that neighborhood,” Ahmed told HCV over the phone.
Back on February 27th, the council recommended that the planning board amend the master plan with goals of “maximizing affordable housing, improving access to public transit and allowing for the construction of new public school space in those parts of the Redevelopment Plan Area not currently occupied by the Holland Gardens Housing Project.”
At this same meeting, the council approved a new plan for the the St. Lucy’s homeless shelter, which also falls within this particular redevelopment zone.
Furthermore, a report released by the Jersey City Housing Authority last month unveiled a plan for an 11-story plus, over 500-unit, high-rise building to replace the Holland Gardens public housing complex.
Ward E Councilman James Solomon, who represents the city’s Downtown district, said he is “reviewing the project details in consultation with community leaders” ahead of next month’s council meeting.
However, city spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione said the developer is “dangling some affordable units as bait” for the council before the project has been fully vetted by the planning board, which is why the mayor opposes this current version of the development.
“This proposal as it stands today was written by a developer handed off to the council without any oversight from Planning. The developer dangles some affordable units as bait, while the fundamental goal of the proposal was to dramatically increase the density at a higher rate than almost any project in the City,” she said.
“This was a plan by a developer to enrich himself, and it’s unfortunate the council even entertained it. The Mayor is opposed to business this way, and he supports the Planning Board.”
According to the the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission’s (NJ ELEC) website, no one affiliated with Pegasus Partners has made any contributions to anyone in Jersey City seeking re-election in 2021.
Editor’s note: This story was updated with a comment from city spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione.