The Bethesda Baptist Church has stood at 158-162 Mercer Street, between Monmouth Street and Varick Street, for over 120 years. However, a three-alarm fire tore through the structure in 2007, leaving the building vacant and abandoned for close to a decade in the middle of the city’s historic downtown. Plans to restore the church five years ago were never realized, and windows remained boarded up.
Property records show that the building, which sits behind the Dixon Mills community, was sold for $1.265 million in 2014.
Now, developers are planning to revitalize this former pillar of the community, which is located within the Montgomery Gateway Redevelopment Plan Area and the Van Vorst Park Historic District. According to a public notice, Manly Warringah URF, LLC is planning to refurbish both the church and the adjacent parsonage, and convert the buildings into ten dwelling units. The notice states that the Jersey City Historic Preservation Commission approved a ‘Certificate of Appropriateness’ for the project application in September. Records from the commission show that Hoboken’s Marchetto Higgins Stieve is the project architect and that roof and window alterations are also planned. The developer is seeking variances for no on-site parking for vehicles and bicycles.
The property, surrounded by historic brownstones, is close to Van Vorst and Meluso Parks, the main branch of the Jersey City Free Public Library, and the Old Colony Square Shopping Center. Unlike other neighborhoods of Jersey City, the Van Vorst Park Historic District has been well preserved, seeing little new construction since the neighborhood’s development well over a century ago.
The Jersey City Planning Board will hold a public hearing at the City Hall Municipal Council Chambers regarding the proposal this Tuesday, November 1st, beginning at 5:30pm.
[gmap height=”250px”]160 Mercer St, Jersey City, NJ 073022[/gmap]
158-162 Mercer St, Jersey City, NJ 07302