Besides the vote to declare 100 acres on the west side in need of redevelopment, the council also voted to introduce a design clarifying the residences and parks that should go there.
Ultimately, the massive mixed-use project will require two years of cleanup and up to 30 years of development and will eventually bring more than 4,200 housing units and several parks to an area near Route 440.The forgotten waterfront
At Wednesday's meeting, the council voted 9-0 to introduce an ordinance to adopt the Bayfront I Redevelopment Plan, which was presented at last Monday's caucus by project designer Anton Nelessen.
The Bayfront I area is bordered by Kellogg Street to the south, the Hackensack River to the west, and some city property on which the vacant Municipal Utilities Authority and Jersey City Incinerator Authority buildings currently stand.
By court order, some of the land is currently being cleaned up by owner Honeywell to meet the standards of the Department of Environmental Protection due to hexavalent chromium contamination allegedly left there by Honeywell's predecessors. What to expect there
Normally, after a City Council votes to designate a certain area in need of redevelopment, they then adopt a proposed zoning plan for developers to follow.
The vote on Wednesday was merely an introduction of the plan. There will be a final vote on it at a council meeting on March 12.
At the meeting, many of the council members praised the plan for bringing quality urban development to Jersey City's western waterfront.
The new plan calls for mixed-use redevelopment with stores, arcades, offices, schools, day care, and a light rail station. Residential units will number between 4,200 and 8,200, mostly two- to three-story townhouses.
Featuring a central park bordered by an extension of Stegman Parkway, a promenade, and a park on the waterfront, the plan calls for 20 acres of open space, accounting for one-fifth of the total land use.
The plan is built around input gathered from the community in a study concerning the area, and the redevelopment will follow a formula for a community where its members can "live, work, and play," according to its designer.
Nelessen, the designer, estimates that the cleanup of the area will take another two years, and he says the project will take approximately 30 years from start to finish. This would place the realization of this neighborhood in 2040.
If the council approves the plan upon its final reading at the next meeting on March 12 at 6 p.m., the last step will be a developer's agreement, and then the construction can begin as soon as the cleanup finishes.
"This means a rebirth of the West Side," said Nelessen in an interview. "It seems to me that all of the components for quality urban living are in this redevelopment plan." Route 440 will be tree-lined, named for slugger
The plan also calls for Route 440 to become a four-lane tree-lined boulevard, which would be named after baseball legend Jackie Robinson, according to Nelessen, a professor of urban planning and policy development at Rutgers University. Additionally, the boulevard would be accompanied by two lanes for slower local traffic. Support and concerns
At the council meeting, support was outspokenly positive for the plan.
It will contain an estimated 12,000 parking spaces in underground garages with approximately 650 metered spaces on the street. There are no surface parking lots in the plan.
However, at the caucus, Councilwoman Mary Spinello and Councilman Michael Sottolano expressed some concerns regarding the design, particularly how it would affect the thru traffic and heavy truck usage that Route 440 currently carries.
Along with concerns that police and fire departments should have buildings in the plan, Spinello was concerned that the tree-lined part of 440 would suddenly stop at Communipaw Avenue. The city's Corporation Counsel Bill Matsikoudis replied to this by saying Communipaw Avenue, the road which becomes Truck Route 1&9 at that point, is already lined with green space, namely Lincoln Park. He jokingly noted that there's also a cemetery there.
When Spinello expressed concerns about how the plan intended to address the high volume of truck traffic that uses Route 440, Nelessen replied that trucks will "hopefully go somewhere else."
In an interview on Tuesday, he referred specifically to a construction project in Bayonne that would directly link the Turnpike to the trucks' destination ports.
At the meeting, Sottolano and Spinello expressed their satisfaction with the overall plan.
"This is ultimately going to be a catalyst for a great deal of change on the West Side of Jersey City," said Sottolano.
"It's nice to see this kind of development on that side of town," added Spinello. Comments on this story should be sent to Mpaul@hudsonreporter.com.