The Jersey City Redevelopment Agency announced earlier this month that the first phase of the stabilization of the 102-year-old Hudson and Manhattan Powerhouse, located on Washington Street in downtown Jersey City, is complete.
The historic three-story brick structure is considered the centerpiece for the long-discussed Powerhouse Arts District. The stabilization is a multi-year project designed to deal with years of neglect and deterioration.
Included in the Phase I work is the enclosure of the monumental window openings that have been sealed with brightly colored boards using colors from the Redevelopment Agency’s logo. The next phase of the stabilization will be a new roof and drainage system, with work bid out this fall to start by early next year.
Robert Antonicello, Executive Director of the Redevelopment Agency, which is leading the stabilization effort, says he’s impressed with the completion of the first phase of the project. The city of Jersey City and the Redevelopment Agency, with a contribution from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will cover the cost of the $3.4 million project. The Powerhouse building and land is jointly owned by the Port Authority the city.
The stabilization started in earnest in June of last year.
The stabilization started in earnest in June of last year when Mayor Jerramiah Healy, Antonicello, officials from the Port Authority, and other city officials were on hand for the kick-off of the stabilization of the historic Hudson and Manhattan Powerhouse, the first step towards reinventing the building as a commercial and entertainment complex. The actual work started in December.
When stabilization is complete, the Powerhouse will become an 180,000 square-foot space across five floors, filled with galleries, restaurants, and offices. The Cordish Companies, a Baltimore-based retail and entertainment developer, is the designated developer for renovating the site.
The work undertaken
In December, the windows on the ground floor were boarded up to prevent further deterioration of the building’s interior. Later, the remaining windows were enclosed.
The stabilization plans call for relocating the electrical transformers located in the Powerhouse that power the PATH subway system.
Phase II and Phase III of the stabilization project, already bid out to the New York City-based architectural firm Beyer Blinder Belle, calls for the installation of a temporary roof, structural work, and masonry repairs. Also, the Jersey City-based engineering firm Dresdner Robin has been contracted to remove 340 tons of polluted soil and 50 tons of non-toxic soil.
Not so powerful district
The Powerhouse was once the power station for the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad, which opened for business in 1908 and closed in 1929.
The Powerhouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001, the result of Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy, after a two year effort to save the Powerhouse from being demolished by the city during former Mayor Bret Schundler’s term.
In November 2004, the City Council voted to designate the Powerhouse Arts District, an 11-block area named after the power station that stretches east to west from Marin Boulevard to Washington Boulevard, and north to south from Second Street to Bay Street, for redevelopment by the city, and slated to include 10 percent affordable housing, particularly for artists.
But the district exists only on paper. Developers have sued to compel Jersey City to place their projects in special sub-districts to protect them from the Powerhouse Arts District’s stipulations.
Those developers include Lloyd Goldman, owner of the 110 and 111 First Street properties, with plans for residential towers on both, and Toll Brothers who wants to build the three-tower (30, 35, and 40-story), 925-unit Provost Square project a few blocks away from the First Street projects.
The Powerhouse when completely restored is expected to restore some of the luster lost to the area by these zoning compromises with the original plan.
Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.