20-Story Glass-Heavy Tower Planned for St. Lucy’s Church Redevelopment

St Lucys Church Jersey City
St Lucy’s Church, 619 Grove Street, Jersey City.

One of Jersey City’s historic but neglected properties would be revitalized under a plan announced by the mayor, although some details and when exactly it could gain approval remain somewhat up in the air.

Earlier this month, the city announced a public-private partnership that would breath new life into the former St. Lucy’s Church property at 619 Grove Street. Originally constructed in 1884 as a parish for Irish immigrants living in the area, the building served as a house of worship until the 1980s before closing.

St Lucys Homeless Shelter Redevelopment Current
Current homeless shelter building.

An adjacent school building next door currently serves as a homeless shelter run by Catholic Charities, but the original church has admittedly seen better days. Plywood covers several of the property’s windows and the building was included on Preservation New Jersey’s 2018 list of the 10 Most Endangered Historic Structures in the state.

A building boom in the neighborhood has some concerned that the building could be lost, so the city is taking some steps to achieve a better ending. In the announced deal, the Archdiocese of Newark would sell both the church and existing shelter to Claremont Companies, who would preserve and rehabilitate “key historic features” on the church while constructing a glass-heavy addition rising a total of 20 stories.

Proposed Tower St Lucys 619 Grove Street Render
Proposed tower redevelopment of St Lucy’s Church. Rendering credit Minervini Vandermark Architecture.

The church property, designed by Hoboken-based Minervini Vandermark, would include 430 units of housing consisting mostly of luxury rentals. Mayor Steve Fulop told the Jersey Journal the plan includes mostly market-rate units and “some” affordable housing, although he didn’t offer specifics as to the breakdown of the building.

St Lucys Homeless Shelter Redevelopment Render
New proposed homeless facility. Rendering by Steven S. Cohen, Architect.

In exchange for the opportunity to add density to the neighborhood, Claremont would fully fund and construct a new $15 million, five-story homeless shelter facility on a currently vacant parcel across Grove Street from the facility. The potential new shelter, designed by Princeton-based architect Steven S. Cohen, would be able to house 150 people, up from the 120 capacity at the current building. It would also provide housing for 14 people living with HIV/AIDS and include six units of permanent housing.

Under the deal, the shelter would be built before the luxury housing portion and Mayor Fulop says that Claremont will not receive any tax abatement for the project. A zoning change needed to make the development possible was scheduled to go before the city’s planning board last week, but that meeting was canceled. The earliest the changes could head to the board would be their January 8 meeting next year.

If the planning board signs off on the modifications, the city council would then have to approve the deal before shovels can go into the ground.


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  1. I’d love to see the church remain and be improved, that’s great. But that rendering makes it looks massive and completely out of character for the neighborhood. 20 stories and 450 units just doesn’t seem appropriate within that landscape.

    BTW, traffic already has become an issue along that stretch because of the gas station that replaced Burke’s Bar on the corner of Grove and 14th Street. Cars can *only* exit the station onto Manila/Grove, which means if they want to head toward 139/Turnpike, they need to get across two lanes of essentially *perpendicular* traffic. It’s regularly a mess, whether rush hour or not, and backs up past St. Lucy’s, and onto 15th Street. Cars can only enter the gas station along 14th street but there’s no exit onto 14th, maybe because it’s right up against the traffic light? Either way, a mess.

  2. The real problem is the homeless people that are so prevalent in the area. ts the soup kitchen that attracts them.
    Homeless is one thing, derelicts, druggies, and mentally challenged are another thing altogether. It would be foolish to attempt to house them in an improving neighborhood.

  3. I’m all for improvements, but the “glass-heavy” structure is hideous and out of character with the rest of the building. Would it have been too much trouble to design an addition in the style of the existing building?

  4. What an atrocious mixture of new and older architecture! Take a gracious old building like that church and add a monstrosity that is 100% antithetical to its nature.

    This must have been rendered by the architectural firm of Keller, Wonder, Charles, and Schuur.

  5. People might be interesting to see what is called the “Holy Ghost building” in Denver. Its been there for decades and its the same concept, large glass building around the historic building.

    I’m not sure the pictures do it justice but with the glass reflecting the old Church, its impressive; especially early mornings.

    Give it a chance!


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