The towers, at 52 and 46 stories respectively, will include 1,034 residential units and approximately 150,000 square feet of retail space with 805 parking spaces. The first three levels of the project, which will include a basement, are to be designated for retail. On top of the retail base will be the parking area.
The project, estimated at $350 million, is to be built by Jersey City-based developer Harwood Properties, known for the parking lots that they have operated in the Journal Square area for over 50 years, and as one of the developers of the State Square apartment complex on Kennedy Boulevard.
Lowell Harwood, the managing partner of Harwood Properties, attended Tuesday's meeting but did not comment on the project. Instead, the attorney for the project, Eugene Paolino, spoke about its impact.
"This project will bring life back to this part of Jersey City that has lacking for so long," he said, "and Mr. Harwood should be commended for having the vision to create a project that will do that."
Mayor Jerramiah Healy, upon hearing of the project's approval, said, "This represents a huge step forward for Jersey City and Journal Square. Lowell Harwood and his family have a longstanding history in Jersey City, and I am certain that this project will be spectacular for the Square and restore it to its original splendor."Towering over Journal Square
At the meeting, the Planning Board was given a PowerPoint presentation of the preliminary site plan.
The attractive features of the towers include a Times Square-type wrap-around ticker displaying news, sports, and weather. There will be an on-site indoor swimming pool, a roof garden, playground, and dog run, and a fitness center.
Each tower will have game and conference rooms.
There will also be an entrance and exit for delivery trucks on Sip Avenue.
The board was informed that the project will cause the relocation of various features in the Square, including the 9/11 Memorial Fountain, cabstand, and kiosk.
The Planning Board requested that the development be moved further west in order to increase the width of the walkway from Sip Avenue to the Journal Square Transportation Center from five feet to 10 feet. Paolino said this movement could be done "if possible."
Planning Board Commissioner Michael Sottolano expressed concern that the project would bring in too many billboards and signage to the vicinity, but Paolino said the project is Jersey City's "answer to the Time Warner Building."
City Planner Maryanne Bucci-Carter commended the project but said there will have to be more work on the site plan.
Tom Leane, another project consultant, responded that it would be another nine months before plans are finalized, after which construction will commence.
The board concurred that the project is long overdue.
"Journal Square has suffered enough, and I am glad for its rebirth and rejuvenation," said Sottolano. Journal Square turns residential
Robert Antonicello, the executive director of the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency, hailed the importance of the project's approval.
"This project signals the transition of Journal Square from a retail center to a more residential community," he said. "It will put Journal Square back on the map."
Antonicello said the project is part of a larger effort by the Healy administration and other city agencies to revitalize this long-neglected area.
Antonicello also said there will be a $1.2 million façade improvement program that will affect storefronts from Kennedy Boulevard to Bergen Avenue, as well as other initiatives.
"We are also looking to re-brand what Journal Square is about," said Antonicello. "Other improvements will include a new mural in Journal Square to be done by the city's Mural Arts Program."
Presently, two of three buildings that are on the site of Harwood's two-tower project have been acquired by the Redevelopment Agency on behalf of Harwood. Those two buildings contained a Wendy's restaurant and a greeting card store. Harwood is in the process of acquiring the third building, where a McDonald's is based. Ricardo Kaulessar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org