The Jersey City Planning Board unanimously approved (9-0) a measure to amend the Morris Canal Redevelopment Plan to consider a 17-story project, despite several residents voicing their concerns.
By Daniel Ulloa/ Hudson County View
Some residents expressed disdain over the fact that the proposed project would be 17 stories high in a neighborhood that does not have many tall buildings, especially after, it was only supposed to be five stories.
The Skyline Development Group, based out of North Bergen, would construct the Morris Canal Manor complex, which would include a 361-unit high-rise with a 22,00 square foot STEM/rec center at 417 Communipaw Ave.
Additionally, 18 of those units would be designated as affordable.
The city’s recreation department would run the rec center, which would come with a basketball court – though not everyone was convinced the city could pay for new programs – and retail outlets are part of the construction as well.
There would also be a sort of entrepreneurial incubator there to foster new businesses in the complex adjacent to Berry Lane skate park.
Despite ample amenities, Morris Canal Community Development Corporation (CDC) President June Jones said she is unhappy her organization was not consulted on the planning of the project and called the final result “disgusting.”
She and other members of her group regularly spoke out against the initiative during Zoom meetings held during the summer.
While elected leaders such as Council members Joyce Watterman, Denise Ridley, Jermaine Robinson, and Freeholder Jerry Walker (D-3) have spoke out in favor of the project, including Walker saying that he believes the project “will save lives.”
Still, that wasn’t enough to sway some public speakers from last night.
“I am not in favor of this development on this spot,” said Dana Patton, who said such a tall building would be better placed next to the nearby light rail station.
Additionally, activist Frank “Educational” Gilmore stated he was “extremely concerned” that public comment was being limited, the project was being rushed, and Mont never kept his word about addressing the public again.
Nevertheless, a few speakers spoke in favor of the project moving forward, such as resident Ashley Christmas, who said the rec center was a tremendous show of good faith, particularly since “you don’t get free things in this world.”
After around six-and-a-half hours, Planning Board Commissioner Darryl Yorker, like most of his colleagues, expressed the belief that the endeavor community would be a big benefit local youth.
Moreover, since Ward F needs redevelopment projects, he is in favor of the project going forward.
Mont said today that he was expectedly thrilled with the planning board’s decision, even though construction, if it does indeed happen, is likely still months away.
“We are thrilled that the Planning Board saw the merits of what we have proposed for the community with our project,” he began.
“We feel that the combination of a recreation facility (Jersey City’s first), additional public parking, an MBE retail incubator, affordable housing and large public open space … goes a long way toward setting a new standard for community givebacks and will have a major uplifting effect on the surrounding community.”
The next step for the project will be for the city council to vote on the proposed amendments for the redevelopment plan.