Jersey City Council reviews Green Villa redevelopment plan during caucus


During their caucus meeting, the Jersey City Council reviewed an ordinance to vacate a street in Green Villa and expand its redevelopment plan.

By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View

Jersey City Planning Director Tanya Marione explained they want to expand the Greenville Redevelopment Area via a resolution.

“It’s right behind the Hub. A lot of the homes … were taken through redevelopment. A lot of that land was blighted and demolished. We’re looking to work more with the landowners to rehab the rest of the continuation along the light rail line. It would trigger the IZO. There would be an affordable housing component,” she said.

“This development will essentially go into the Green Villa,” Ward F Councilman Frank “Educational” Gilmore said.

He noted that 10 percent of it would be affordable units.

Attorney Chuck Harrington explained his client owns the land they want to redevelop. Part of the plan includes vacating Morton Place north of John F. Kennedy Boulevard.

“It’s a dead-end area of Morton Place. It’s directly adjacent… to the light rail tracks. That area would then be incorporated into a bigger development,” he noted.

“This area is zoned R,-3. You can do eight stories and 140 units an acre. That would have no affordable housing.”

He explained if there’s a larger development, it would include affordable housing.

“The vacation of it would make it more efficient at the end of the block,” Harrington argued.

“This developer is asking for a private street to go public, right?” Gilmore asked.

“A public street to go private,” Harrington replied.

“While it is a dead end, people still utilize the parking. There’s people off JFK that use that parking,” Gilmore said. “It’s really a parking-deprived area. My concern… is, how does this make sense? Is it worth it? Their proposal is 15 stories which is already double what’s permitted, and the giveback is only 10 percent.”

“I don’t know how many cars it would affect,” Harrington said.

“The public needs parking. The giveback is only 10 percent,” Gilmore said.

“Instead of an R 3 project with no affordable housing at all, it’s a larger project,” Harrington argued.

He also pointed out that there would be 40 to 50 affordable housing units.

“We think it’s applicable because it’s right by the light rail station. We were also discussing providing for a daycare,” Harrington added.

Gilmore noted the plan included an ordinance and a resolution on the council agenda.

“What would go into effect first?” he asked, to which Marione said a plan would have to pass.

Ward E Councilman James Solomon questioned why the street would be vacated before the plan was approved.

Harrington explained it would be established for redevelopment.

“It has a sunset provision. In the event that a project does not get developed … then it reverts back to the city,” he noted.

Gilmore then chimed in this project would be located in Ward B.

“We did meet with Councilwoman Prinz-Arey,” Harrington said, though she was absent from the caucus.

“Did you do a community meeting too?” Gilmore asked.

“We have not yet met with the community. We’re actually scheduled to present the concept project sometime next week,” Harrington said.

Ward A Councilwoman Denise Ridley noted that this would eliminate all street parking and also asked how the street sweeper, snow removal, and trash removal would work.

“It reverts title to the adjacent property owners, and they would be responsible for it,” Harrington said.

Upon further questioning from Gilmore, Harrington said that the developer of the project is William Melms.

“The street vacation is part of the plan. It makes sense to move those together. It’s just hard for me to see the public’s value on a split of those two from each other,” Solomon stated.

“It’s one thing to approve the redevelopment area and another thing to approve the plan. We don’t have a plan to view yet.”

Harrington said they would work in conjunction with one another

“They work together. The redevelopment plan would incorporate this. Maybe the ordinance only takes effect upon the redevelopment plan being passed and a site plan approval being adopted. Nothing happens without both being passed,” Harrington argued.

“It’s three or four LLCs. So the same individual owns those LLCs?” Gilmore asked.

“There were different transactions. So they used different LLCs. It would be consolidated under one lot and one LLC. It’s the same owners,” Harrington said.

“I feel like this is a little premature,” Ward D Councilman Yousef Saleh interjected

Councilman-at-Large Daniel Rivera, who chaired the meeting in the absence of Council President Joyce Watterman, indicated he was interested in seeing how the community reacts.

They left the item on the agenda for Thursday’s regular public session.

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