Since winning the special mayoral election in November of 2004, Mayor Jerramiah Healy has made the revitalization of Journal Square one of the top priorities of his administration.
With parts of the area surrounding this busy transportation center falling into ruin, the mayor’s “vision” for its future was presented at a press conference Wednesday.
A presentation called “Jerramiah T. Healy’s Vision For Journal Square” was given by veteran urban planner Anton Nelessen, with Healy present. Nelessen, along with Hoboken architect Dean Marchetto, was commissioned by the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency earlier this year to develop a plan. They are working on it based on input they got from city officials and from the public during community meetings held since July.244 acres
The 244-acre plan, which is still being discussed and has not yet been adopted by any government body, will be presented to the public this coming Thursday, Oct. 23 at Public School 11 on Bergen Avenue starting at 6 p.m.
It calls for 10,000 to 15,000 new residential units and thousands of square feet of commercial and retail space. It also includes 9 acres of park space.
The area proposed for development runs from Vroom Street to the south, Tonnelle Avenue to the west, State Highway 139 to the north, and Baldwin Avenue to the east.
Owners of property already in the plan would be encouraged to build or make improvements to their existing properties.
Officials predict it could take up to 20 years for the entire plan to come to fruition.
The centerpiece will be a two-tower $400 million project (68 stories and 50 stories high) that a private land owner will build adjacent to the Journal Square Transportation Center. Longtime Journal Square businessman Lowell Harwood and Washington D.C.-based pension firm MEPT are planning to break ground for that project in the next six months. State officials in audience
Healy did not hold back on the compliments about the plan on Wednesday when he addressing local and state officials who were in the audience, including U.S. Rep. Albio Sires.
“It’s not only going to be a great thing for our city and our state,” Healy said. “I believe that it’s going to be model and example for the rest of the country to follow.”
In the presentation, Healy and Nelessen talked about bringing the Square back to the center of activity in the city, as it was from the 1920s until the 1970s. The presentation
Nelessen said that one way to bring back the “center” concept was to implement a comprehensive transportation system.
Journal Square was a creation of the city fathers in the early 1920s as a new “city center” for businesses and entertainment. It stayed that way until the 1970s, when businesses left the area and foot traffic diminished on the Square.
Nelessen said the new concept would include routing the Hudson-Bergen light rail system through Journal Square. A new transportation center would be built, possibly in place of the existing bus/PATH center. The new center would be exposed to natural light, allowing buses to stop in the Square rather than inside the station.
“[There’s] the old idea that it really began to change when we took the buses off, when we let the cars run through and it became a highway,” Nelessen said.
Also, there would be regional parking lots built outside the city to allow commuters to park and take mass transit into Journal Square, and free up land currently used for surface parking lots. They like the plan
After the presentation, Sires, who has an office in Journal Square, lauded the plan. He recalled visiting the Square often when he was a student at St. Peter’s College in the late 1960s. He also said this plan will help him to bring money from Congress to improve Hudson County’s transportation infrastructure.
City Councilman Steve Lipski, who represents Journal Square and grew up in the area, also praised the plan for bring long overdue development for his section of the city.
“This plan transcends politics,” Lipski said. “This is a plan that when I am out of office and still living in Jersey City, I can get behind those people who voted me into office and say, ‘Let’s continue this vision.’ “
Tony Deluco is one of a number of developers with a physical stake in this plan, as he is working on building between 900 and 1,000 housing units on Oakland Avenue, Washburn Avenue, and Cook Street.
“One, as a resident, it is long overdue,” Deluco said. “Two, as a developer, I can’t help but love it.” Comments on this story can be sent to email@example.com