The City Council approved the Journal Square 2060 Redevelopment Plan by an 8-0 vote at their meeting on Wednesday.
The plan calls for the revitalization of 211 acres, divided into nine zones. One zone includes the center of Journal Square, which is bordered by John F. Kennedy Boulevard and Sip, Summit, and Pavonia avenues. That zone would allow new six-story buildings with a maximum height of 65 feet.
The 2060 plan, which took approximately 50 community meetings to discuss its formation and implementation, is the third version of a plan that dates back to 2007.
Among those voting in favor was Journal Square Councilperson Nidia Lopez, who called it a “great plan.” The other council members who voted for the plan were City Council President Peter Brennan, Bill Gaughan, Steven Fulop, Viola Richardson, Willie Flood, and David Donnelly. Mariano Vega was absent from the meeting.
“I believe that this is a good plan, and I am glad it is going to finally get started.” – Nidia Lopez
But the approval of the 2060 plan was not without criticism. Long-time resident and retired police officer Rich Boggiano lashed out at the council for going ahead with a vote even though he felt not enough community input factored into the plan, such as allowing high-rise buildings to be constructed too close to residential neighborhoods. Boggiano is a homeowner in the Hilltop neighborhood, located near Journal Square.
“I want to see Journal Square developed and not see my neighborhood, the Hilltop, ruined,” Boggiano said.
He also issued a warning to them that the vote will impact their reelection when the 2013 municipal election takes place.
Lopez acknowledged Boggiano’s criticism of the plan, but also thanked him and other residents who attended the community meetings and offered input on the plan over the past three years.
Square plan coming full circle
The approved Journal Square 2060 plan could also be called Journal Square Plan 3.0.
The first version from 2008, developed by veteran urban planner Anton Nelessen and Hoboken architect Dean Marchetto, proposed adding 10,000 to 15,000 new residential units within a 244-acre area, and development of thousands of square feet of commercial and retail space, in addition to nine acres of park space.
In March 2009, the council tabled that plan after members of the public complained that the plan would allow for skyscraper-type buildings, and predicted that the use of eminent domain condemnations would force people from their homes.
Afterward, that plan was scaled down considerably to what was called the “Journal Square Core Redevelopment Plan,” covering a much smaller area bounded by Kennedy Boulevard and Sip, Summit, and Pavonia avenues. That plan called for four zones with buildings that were to be taller, yet thinner so as to not block views.
However, even this smaller version, when presented to the Planning Board at a meeting in February, did not impress residents of the area.
That led to the Planning Board going back to the drawing board and reconfiguring the plan as it currently stands.
Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.