Latest iteration of Morris Canal Park Manor still doesn’t sit right with some Ward F residents

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The latest iteration of the Morris Canal Park Manor has added a considerable amount of community givebacks and slightly reduced the number of units, still doesn’t sit right with some Ward F residents – particularly those of a local community group.

By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View

Skyline Development Group is the developer of the Morris Canal Park Manor: a potential 17-story, 361-unit project that boasts a a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and micro plaza, along with a STEM rec center near the corner of Woodward and Communipaw Avenues.

During a community Zoom call last night, Skyline CEO Lou Mont described how the development would contain retail stores, along with open space, for farmer’s markets and other similar outdoor events.

Freeholder Jerry Walker (D-3) again reiterated his support for the project last night.

“It is a big win for our community,” he said.

The rec center will contain a number of amenities such as a rock climbing wall, a dancing studio, gym facilities, a sauna, and concessions. The center will adjoin the recently redeveloped Berry Lane Park.

Furthermore, the rec center and MBE will be deed to the city upon their completion, officials said.

“The MBE STEM programs will help the entire community,” Mont said.

Muhammad Akil, a consultant for Skyline, outlined some of the other nuances of the site.

He said that there would be 361 residential units, 284 private parking spaces, and 43 public spaces. The main apartment building that will have 17, 11, and 8 stories in a step-like fashion.

Akil also noted that the community requested more parking, so a three-story parking garage was added to the revised plan. Additionally, the residential building will have many amenities, including an outdoor patio, gym facilities, and a pool.

The total cost of the Morris Canal Park Manor project is approximately $24.1 million, according to Akil.

Despite the changes, similar to the Zoom call in June, Morris Canal Community Development Corporation June Jones led a robust opposition to the project.

“I find it very disrespectful: we laid the work, yet we were not even considered … 17 stories doesn’t belong on Communipaw,” Jones said. She then compared the definition of a manor to a plantation.

“Mr. Mont is getting his money. Upfront and twice over!,” Jones exclaimed after criticizing the lack of many affordable housing units, another criticism that was prevalent two months.

Jones urged the community to reject the revised redevelopment plan, noting that the zoning regulations have to change for the land to be purchased and the – MCCDC.

“I am against this project. I think the building is too tall. Everything he’s offering as a giveback: we already have,” said a community resident named Teresa, who did not provide her last name. “He’s making trillions off this community!”

Additionally, a couple of people voiced concerns that the project would displace people by causing housing costs in the neighborhood to rise.

“The developer, although he’s building this incubator, he stands to make a pretty penny,” Frank “Educational” Gilmore said after voicing concerns on how the community programs will be funded.

“I’ve talked to a lot of community leaders willing to handle the programs,” Robinson responded.

The councilman added he is working with the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency and planning to create a recreation fund to have the money programed.

He said he is also in talks with the nearby Liberty Science Center to collaborate on the STEM center’s programs. The STEM rec center will be free for residents, which he plans to make free

The proposed land has been blighted for years. The overall site is 144,000 square feet, or 3.36 acres of the land, while the STEM rec center would be two stories tall and 22,000 square feet.

hat makes it one of the larger sites in Ward F to be proposed for redevelopment.

In 2008, a possible plan was discussed, but Jersey City and Hudson County decided against buying the land due to the multi-million cost attached.