Jersey City officials broke ground on what will be their first ever, $120 million, Public Safety Headquarters in Jackson Square on Wednesday afternoon.
By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View
The groundbreaking for the 11-story building on Martin Luther King Drive will be the fourth constructed as part of the Jackson Square Municipal Complex Mayor Steven Fulop first launched in 2015.
The new headquarters will centralize public safety services and resources for the first time.
According to Fulop, assembling Police and Fire Department operations under one roof will streamline services, reduce 9-1-1 response times, and increase the police presence in the Bergen-Lafayette neighborhood.
“I decided that we can do better. So, we started to build a municipal complex on the south side of the City that would be state-of-the-art, it would be near mass transit to be easily accessible to everyone in the city, it would have all city services in one place, and it would bring thousands of jobs to an area that needs the investment,” he said this afternoon.
“That is exactly what we have achieved.”
Furthermore, city officials asserted that they would save save $350,000 per year on rent for the current Police Department Headquarters in Journal Square.
To that end, they will also be able to sell Fire Headquarters, the South Street Fire Union Offices, and the Gong Club building for a total estimated $30 million in total revenue.
At the same time, in Ward F, the city has had trouble attracting business to the area known as “the hub” since many felt uncomfortable.
“We struggled with business after business, with bank after bank,” the mayor recalled.
Now, the city says they will save money by owning the building, which Public Safety Director James Shea called “a seven-year dream for us” that has come to fruition.
“It was a challenge to get investment to come this way,” Council President Joyce Waterman reiterated.
The dignitaries on hand seemed to be in firm agreement that the new building will bring hundreds of city employees to the neighborhood.
“This is just another step in the right direction,” added Ward F Councilman Jermaine Robinson. “This right here is a grand slam for our community,” Robinson said.
He added placing the new public safety building in the neighborhood will help property owners who need the services.
Robinson also said they previously met with a pizzeria chain about having a location in the neighborhood.
“On the day the pizzeria came here, there was a shootout right in this area. And the pizzeria backed out. Today, we’re saying no more. We’re bringing resources here,” the councilman added.
The 120,000 square-foot building is expected to be completed in 2022.
The municipal complex currently includes the Health and Human Services building, the Jersey City Employment and Training Program, the Center for Affordable Housing and Housing Preservation, Veteran Housing and Social Services, and a parking deck.
City officials estimate that they have already invested $200 million in the area complex.
During the question and answer session with the media, Fulop noted that the city has previously sought to invest in social services, along much as public safety, when asked about the multi-million dollar cost of the building.
“We think defunding police or diverting funds away is not helpful long term,” Fulop said, a stance that he has maintained for several months now.
Additionally, Shea indicated that parking issues and addressing neighborhood disputes has been given to another department to reduce police priorities. He added they are releasing a disciplinary matrix for full transparency on what the ramifications are of certain police offenses.
“We had a lot of things going on before George Floyd’s death, God rest him. And we’re going to continue doing to make this department better.”