Plans that would have approved a new nine-story mixed-use building in Bergen Hill were tabled by the Planning Board at last week’s meeting, but the battle for what replaces a vacant medical facility might continue to wage on in the coming months.
The site in question is at 136 Summit Avenue, formerly home to Fairmount Hospital. New York-based Monticello Equities was seeking approvals to raze both the building and an adjacent parking lot and replace it with a nine-story, 99-unit residential building with 2,240 square feet of retail and 75 interior parking spaces. But many residents spoke out against the plan at the meeting, saying that it doesn’t adhere to existing zoning rules and claiming that it would negatively impact the neighborhood.
It does appear the proposal, as presented, doesn’t quite follow regulations in the area. The property lies within the boundaries of the Summit and Fairmount Redevelopment Plan, which was adopted by the City Council in 2009 and updated in 2012. The redevelopment plan is one of Jersey City’s smallest; it only consists of three lots on two adjacent blocks. But under the regulations, developers are allowed a maximum building height of five stories along Summit Avenue and up to 12 stories along Clifton Place.
JC Landmarks Conservancy President Norrice Raymaker says that the group believes the developer was “trying to pull a fast one” on the board, because according to her, only the Zoning Board can approve the height variance they were seeking. Monticello had presented the height deviation as a “setback variance” in their application.
Raymaker also objects to the developer’s characterization of the neighborhood as blighted. “Jersey City is a desirable place to build, and this neighborhood is a jewel,” she told Jersey Digs. “The single largest preservation effort in the United States, The Beacon, is two blocks north. Historic townhomes around the corner on Astor Place are listed for sale at $650,000.”
She also notes that Bergen Hill’s Historic District has been determined by the state’s Historic Preservation Office as eligible for listing on the New Jersey Register of Historic Places.
“People want to live in historic districts,” she says.
The Bergen Hill neighborhood does indeed have several other revitalization projects going on in the vicinity of the 136 Summit site. The Friendship Masonic Lodge is currently being converted into 17 residential units and approved plans to transform St. John’s Episcopal Church into a 47-unit condominium project should start soon, as the developer, Garden State Episcopal Community Development Corporation, is applying for construction permits next month.
Monticello’s proposal for 136 Summit would be taller than both of those projects, but they had argued before the Board that the building would be “transitional” for the neighborhood. The company did host one public meeting on August 30th about the project, although JC Landmarks says they were not invited to the proceedings.
The next time Monticello’s plan can be presented or approved, regardless of any changes they may make, is at the Planning Board’s next meeting on September 20th.
What are your thoughts on this new proposal for 136 Summit Ave? Is it out of step with the neighborhood or a welcomed change of pace?
136 Summit Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07304