245 Newark Avenue Stalls as Developer and Officials Face-Off

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245 Newark Avenue Jersey City Current
245 Newark Avenue, Jersey City. Photo by Chris Fry/Jersey Digs.

For months, construction work at 245 Newark Avenue hummed right along on Downtown Jersey City’s major thoroughfare. The five-story development, courtesy of a company called Village Green Estates, was approved back in April 2015 to add 54 apartments, 13 parking spaces, and retail space of just over 4,000 square feet to the neighborhood.

However, work has stopped at the property in recent months despite a sign claiming the apartments are now leasing and a website being launched trumpeting the building’s impending arrival. On May 22, the developer placed the project on the planning board’s agenda seeking a site plan amendment with deviations, an unusual request for a building whose entire frame is already constructed.

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The changes proposed include taller building height than previously approved, different façade materials, and the addition of mezzanines on the first and fifth stories of the structure. The new version is also seeking to supersize the retail component of the building to 9,509 square feet and increase the max floor-to-ceiling height for residential units.

The application was later carried to the board’s June 19 meeting, and it turns out the changes the developer is seeking approval for are already built. James McCann, the lawyer representing Village Green Estates, told the board during testimony that the proposed deviations have already been installed, meaning the development was not constructed in accordance with the 2015 approvals.

As a result, the attorney for Village Green Estates offered to schedule site visits for planning board members as part of the approval process. The board’s chairman, Christopher Langston, agreed to do so and stated in response to a question from a member of the public that the board has engaged in site visits on occasion in the past.

The waters at 245 Newark Avenue are somewhat muddy in terms of how we got here. Rutherford-based Inglese Architecture + Engineering was the architect of record on the initial 2015 project, but the changes submitted to the board were drawn up by Hampton Hill Architecture. In an email to Jersey Digs, a representative from Inglese Architecture disclosed that he had been informed that a few modifications were made to the exterior of 245 Newark Avenue without the firm’s knowledge or consent.

There is additionally some debate as to who gets to make the call about the future of 245 Newark Avenue. The city’s zoning office determined that the planning board has jurisdiction over the application, but an appeal has been filed over that decision and will be heard July 17. That action is supported by both the Van Vorst Park Association and The Village Neighborhood Association.

Regardless of jurisdiction, 245 Newark’s concrete frame is already built, the ceiling heights are in place, the building is topped off, and most of the façade on the upper floors is installed. That reality appears to leave whoever has a say over the application with few options, as denying the changes would not allow the building’s completion to move forward.

Some clarity on the future of 245 Newark Avenue should emerge at the end of next month. If the active zoning appeal is denied, the planning board is tentatively scheduled to hear the remainder of the application for the project at their July 24 meeting.

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25 COMMENTS

  1. So the developer got approval for Plan A, but built Plan B? And expects approval after the fact? Why do we have Planning and Zoning Boards?

  2. Blatant greed and disregard for the community and city government by the developers. What, we’re supposed to just accept that developers will build whatever they want, wherever they want?

    No way. Let this be an expensive lesson for these developers and others who see Jersey City as backwards bumpkins.

  3. There should be a heavy fine imposed on the developer for this type of reckless construction. They should know better. We don’t want to set precedent for other developers.

    • I will be at that meeting. The building being too tall now takes 2 hours a day of sunlight out of my apartment. They should have to tear down the extra height. That spot should be a parking garage.

    • This ‘precedent’ was set years ago in Jersey City. How about requiring that a percentage of the apts are for low income housing, AND that the property taxes be at the rate that homeowners are having to pay?

  4. Several issues exist beyond the developer building against what was agreed to: the use of EFIS material which is currently disallowed by Jersey City code and making the wood structure 7 stories which is also against code and dangerous. It’s not all concrete. The neighborhood is against this as is the building department, but somehow zoning seems okay.

  5. Every building project I know of in my neighborhood have had lies told to the neighborhood by the developers.
    This has got to stop!!!

  6. I will be at that meeting. The building being too tall now takes 2 hours a day of sunlight out of my apartment. They should have to tear down the extra height. That spot should be a parking garage.

  7. Same developer did the same thing at 333 Grand Street and is asking for deviations after it is built. It’s a really bad precedent and fines/punishment should be extremely large to deter other developers from doing the same.

  8. This has actually been a well known Standard Operating Procedure for this particular developer for decades. Better to apoligize than ask permission. Time to hold them responsible.

  9. This guy NEVER does what he says hes going to do and the city doesnt do ANYTHING about it!!!!!!! FULOP NEEDS TO TAKE ACTION HERE! MAKE A STATEMENT!

  10. Why does Jersey City let this developer get away with these acts. Where is this fail to the other developers! This person has awful reviews and his buildings are gross!

  11. That developer needs to be put out of business permanently if, as has been stated, he constantly lies about the project then builds something different. There should be no negotiation. Just get lost!

  12. This developer has been a major political contributor so has gotten away with anything he wants for decades. Those Fulop & council $20 campaign fundraisers at Zeplin Hall Beer Garden are at 1 of the developer’s businesses. He bought the land at Liberty Harbor North for less than the price of lineoleum back then…

  13. where where the building inspectors during construction
    they should first look at there building department
    who knows what else he did wrong
    as far as building in nyc some one built a building fully approved
    by all party’s later they saw that it was an old zoning map
    10 stories came of the building

  14. Force them to rent a percentage of apts to low income tenants, AND charge property taxes that match those of local homeowners. NO ABATEMENt.

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