The Jersey Planning Board approved a 28-story skyscraper to be built in Journal Square next to Loew’s Theater at the site of the CH Martin store at last night’s meeting.
By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View
“The Goldman family … they are remaining as part of the development team. CH Martin has been an anchor in Journal Square for almost 40 years … This seemed like an opportune time to reinvest in Journal Square,” attorney Robert Verdibello said.
He explained it’s above the PATH train tracks, making it a unique site at 80 Journal Square. Verdibello also noted that they met with the Journal Square Community Association and they were receptive to the project.
Verdibello explained there would be 40 affordable units, since their variance request triggered the Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance (IZO) approved last year.
“This offers a great opportunity to build a conforming building, something that meets the goals and objectives of the redevelopment plan. The Loew’s Theater is obviously a landmark in Jersey City. It is undergoing a major renovation … it’s almost as if the curtain were being lifted,” stated architect Dean Marchetto.
Marchetto explained there would be residential floors above the first-floor retail and two floors of offices. There would be an outdoor café area outside on the sidewalk. He noted the unique, deep foundation is unique due to the PATH tracks directly underneath.
Marchetto said there would be 3,000 square feet for ground floor retail, 17,730 square feet of office space, and 13,825 square feet of indoor amenities.
In addition, the building will have 125 studio units, 150 one-bedroom, 100 two-bedroom, and 25 three-bedroom units, reiterating that 40 will be affordable units.
“Do we have an idea what the affordable housing mix is?” Board Chair Christopher Langston asked.
Marchetto said eight studios, 24 two-bedroom apartments, and eight three-bedroom apartments would be allocated as affordable.
“So, no one bedrooms?” Langston asked.
“At this time, no one bedrooms, that is correct,” Marchetto said.
“There would be no differences between the units?” Langston questioned
“That is correct,” Marchetto replaced.
Commissioner Dr. Vidya Desai noted that there would be no parking at the building, to which Marchetto noted it is right across the street from the PATH station, therefore parking isn’t really needed.
He also pointed out the nature of the site makes it difficult to have a garage.
“Have your engineers studied the impact of trains passing there?” Desai asked.
Marchetto said their engineer worked with Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to secure an easement.
Additionally, Commissioner Joey Torres was concerned about deliveries being made and the trash getting picked up in a narrow alley behind the building, prompting Marchetto to say that there would be a loading zone on the site in the front.
“The whole site is basically a roof. It occupies just under half an acre,” Project Manager Chris Collins noted.
He explained it is only on John F. Kennedy Bouelvard, which is owned and maintained by the county. Furthermore, due to a city land development ordinance, there will be 203 bike parking spaces.
Verdibello said they would apply for the County Planning Board to address a loading zone.
“We’re in constant contact with the county,” he explained, noting that the Loew’s Theater is also being informed of their plans.
“It is a unique property. It is an air rights parcel. That is akin to a hardship developing this property,” Planner Samuel Bellamy said.
He noted they want to set the tower back as a variation. They also had other technical variance requests regarding the site. Bellamy said there are similar skyscrapers in the area, which justifies their extra floor, and argued it would help revitalize Journal Square.
“Do we know the income level we’re looking at?” Langston asked.
“I think it’s 80 percent under the Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance,” Verdibello answered.
“The IZO does require a mix of low and moderate affordable housing and even a percentage of very low. That would be pursuant to an affordable housing agreement,” Supervising Planner Matt Ward explained.
“The direct testimony was very clear. The applicant has been very forthcoming with meeting staff’s recommendations. They are complying with the IZO. Staff recommends approval.”
“What an incredible design and project. Loved the design. For sure, it’s a transformation, a great addition to Jersey City. The variances are justifiable. What a great job. I vote aye,” Commissioner Vidya Gangadin exclaimed.
“It’s an amazing project. I hope that it gets built soon. I’m proud to see that type of building go up in Journal Square,” Torres said.
“I have lived in the Journal Square area for more than 40 years. It looks fantastic. India Square is going to get the arches, and this area will look so well. I’m going to vote aye,” Desai stated.
“Great design. I think that public plaza is going to be a great addition. I certainly appreciate the affordable housing and the lack of p tack units. I happily vote aye,” Langston said.
The project was ultimately approved unanimously (5-0).