Jersey City officials revealed a redevelopment project to preserve and expand the Holland Gardens complex to include 50 percent affordable housing.
By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View
“This is the most complicated and the most exciting project that downtown has had seen since the first development downtown here in Newport,” Mayor Steven Fulop said at a press conference this morning.
“We’re at a time when very new public housing sites are getting created across the country, partially because of the challenges around funding.”
He noted that the Jersey City Housing Authority board selected WinnCompanies after a long process, ultimately looking to build a mixed-income community plan with amenities, library space, and classes around digital inclusion and homeownership.
“It serves the most vulnerable people here in Jersey City,” Fulop added.
“This project started back in December 2018. We were approached by residents who said they really wanted to talk about improving conditions at Holland Gardens,” JCHA Executive Director Vivian Brady-Phillips said.
She explained there was a six-month design process where they “co-created what I think could be a national model.”
The initial plan was met with trepidation by residents, which led to it being revamped to include home ownership and on-site resources.
Brady-Phillips also explained that they would preserve the existing 192-unit public housing units. In addition, they plan to eliminate the “superblock” and integrate it into the streetscape of the neighborhood.
She explained there is a “right to return and relocation policy that really put teeth into what tenants we’re looking for. They wanted to, if we redevelop this property, be able to come back,” continuing that they added homes and a new branch of the public library.
“This is the city and the housing authority, the residents … and only together will we create success, now and in the long term,” added Winn Companies CEO Gilbert Winn.
He explained there would be a mixed-income, a mixed-use property next to transit, and a mix of people.
“It’s really everything we should do as a society, and Jersey City is leading the light here,” Winn said. “We’re really going to improve the lives of the 373 people who live in Holland Gardens.”
WinnCompanies Senior Vice President David Ginsberg explained they will work with the Jersey City Housing Authority on the project.
“Creating a community isn’t just creating four walls. It’s having services… and we want to work with the housing authority on that,” he said.
Ginsberg said the proposed 30-year payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) deal would give the city a new revenue stream of $60 million and create 1,000 new union construction and permanent jobs at prevailing wage with minority-owned companies.
“Our entire proposal is with a resident-first focus. Number one is absolutely a right to return. They’re going to work with our relocation housing team. It’s a highly complex project,” he asserted.
Additionally, Ginsberg explained there would be a 14,000-square-foot community space and a 12,000-square-foot new library.
The complex will also include 309 market-rate housing, 56 two-bedroom condos, and 74 new affordable units for seniors.
“Thank you for the privilege and honor of being invited to the table. I’ve been told this is the first time a resident has been involved in the procurement process. We were able to work hand in hand with the Housing Authority,” longtime Holland Gardens resident and advocate Bernadine Taylor said.
She praised the project plan and the developer for its inclusion of seniors, while Fulop praised the JCHA for building new units and providing amenities.
Ginsberg said the development process before construction includes relocating the existing residents.
“We’re looking to start the actual demolition of Holland Gardens [by the] end [of] Q1, beginning of Q2 next year. Then we foresee a two-and-a-half to the three-year construction process,” he explained.
Fulop noted the city council would have to approve the PILOT agreement and other financing mechanisms for the project to become a reality.
Furthermore, Brady-Phillips said some tenants will get Section 8 vouchers, and others could live in other public housing units. They are working on relocating seniors first.
The ambitious endeavor will provide approximately $28 million in ground lease payments to the JCHA over the next 30 years.
Resident services payments to the JCHA totaling $10 million will support the work of its RECE Department.
Meanwhile, PILOT payments totaling $61 million over the next 30 years, including $20M in Redevelopment Area Bond (RAB) repayment and $10M in RAB interest, will circulate back into the community to strengthen and expand Jersey City’s affordable housing stock and critical services to help residents in need.
Also mentioned was that a $30 million city bond for Winn is planned, which includes a 10 percent interest rate.
Holland Gardens was built in 1944 and consisted of five low-rise buildings and this effort will be the last of Brady-Phillips tenure: she will be leaving soon to join the World Economic Forum as their new head of strategic initiatives for urban transformation.
The press conference streamed live on our Facebook page and can be viewed below:
I would like to live downtown again. I haven’t lived downtown since 74 and would love to live there again, I am a senior citizen.