Project to Transform Historic Jersey City Heights Convent Heads to Zoning Board

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Convent 166 Hancock Ave Jersey City
St. Paul of the Cross has applied to repurpose a former convent they own at 166 Hancock Avenue in Jersey City Heights. Image via Google Maps.

A historic building in The Heights that once served a religious organization could soon be home to apartments surrounded by refreshed landscaping.


St. Paul of the Cross, who hosts services out of a neighboring church along Hancock Avenue, has applied to repurpose a former convent they own at 166 Hancock Avenue. Construction on the complex began in 1869, or just about a year after the parish was formed. Per NJ.com, the church celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2018.

Convent 166 Hancock Ave Jersey City Conversion
Details of the conversion. Click to enlarge. Image courtesy of Weckenmann Architecture via the application.

The church has partnered on the endeavor with a company called Valorev Construction, who are registered out of Ocean Avenue. The revamp was designed by Jersey City-based Weckenmann Architecture and totals 13 units across four floors that include the basement.

The units in the project break down as two studios, six one-bedrooms, four two-bedrooms, and one three-bedroom unit. The top floor would be converted into a “loft-like” residence under the plan, which does not include any affordable housing component.

Convent 166 Hancock Ave Jersey City Rendering
Detached lounge details. Image courtesy of Weckenmann Architecture via the application.

The proposed conversion would also repurpose a detached one-car garage next to the convent into a lounge for residents. While no parking for cars is included in the proposal, seven bicycle spaces are incorporated into the design.

A new lawn and patio area would be constructed near the rear of the building and concrete along the perimeter of the property would be replaced with landscaping and re-seeded lawns. New aluminum-clad windows would be installed throughout along with a new glass entry door, but preservation is the name of the game as far as the rest of the project is concerned.

An existing copper roof on the structure is to remain and see repairs, as is a stone cross on the building’s roof. The brick face on the structure would be refurbished and cleaned, and iron fences and gates at the property are to be sandblasted and painted.

The former convent is not located within a historic district but is situated just a short walk from Central Avenue. The conversion project is requesting two variances related to the expansion of a non-conforming use and for not including any vehicle parking.

The proposal from St. Paul’s will be heard by Jersey City’s zoning board during their April 7 meeting, which begins at 6:30 p.m. and is being held on Zoom. It can be accessed at this link or by using the webinar ID 834 0175 4353.

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