A church that has been shuttered for over a decade could be reborn as a venue for the community as plans to revitalize a historic private school campus in Greenville could soon take a step toward reality.
During their January 19 meeting, Jersey City’s planning board is slated to review and discuss proposed amendments to the Jackson Hill Redevelopment Plan. The changes are being sought by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark, who are looking to overhaul several acres of property they own along Bayview Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
The land is home to Sacred Heart, a collection of buildings that are listed on New Jersey’s Register of Historic Places. The church at the property has been closed since 2005, but a private school on the site remains active. The remainder of the land consists of a priory (or monastery) and several parking lots.
The Archdiocese will be asking Jersey City to include the entirety of the property in the Jackson Hill Redevelopment Plan, which would place it within the Historic Neighborhood Mixed-Use Zone. That designation would help facilitate a vision dubbed The Enclave at Sacred Heart of Jesus, which will see the Archdiocese team up with Jaric Development.
Per documents submitted to the city, the plan makes a priority of keeping the Sacred Heart Church intact. The sanctuary, built in 1924, would be 100% preserved and adaptively reused as a multi-use event space to be called Higher House that is estimated to create about 20 full- and part-time jobs.
The existing priory at Sacred Heart would be rehabilitated into 16 residential units under the current proposal and the active school would be rehabilitated and converted into a 12-unit residential building. In addition, a new residential building including 96 units is proposed at the site of the current gymnasium parking lot.
Those components would clear the way for a brand new, 34,000-square-foot, “multi-story” Sacred Heart School at the current campus site, which would be demolished under the proposal. The Archdiocese would be deeded the new school as part of the redevelopment deal and both the new residential structure and school would include a thus far unspecified amount of parking on the first floor.
Sacred Heart School will continue to operate as part of the purchase and sale agreement with Jaric Development and the potential units would be for sale. A letter submitted to the city says local residents will have a Priority Path to Purchase opportunity on the development’s units, which is being done to promote homeownership.
Jaric Development, founded in 2017, has previously entered partnerships to preserve architecturally significant properties across New Jersey’s urban core. The company is committed to hiring a minimum of 20% of locals and contractors from within the Jersey City community if The Enclave at Sacred Heart of Jesus moves forward.
Correspondence sent by the Archdiocese to the city indicates that the changes being sought to move the plan forward may stem from a mistake. The Jackson Hill Redevelopment Plan currently includes only the Sacred Heart Church and school buildings, something the Archdiocese claims occurred due to an “error in the mapping” when a previous redevelopment plan was merged into the current one.