44-Unit Project Being Planned At 303 First Street in Jersey City

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303 First Street Jersey City Development
303-311 First Street, Jersey City. Image via Google Maps/Street View.

A company controlled by a developer with a controversial history is looking to construct a new building at several Downtown parcels that are currently home to a parking lot.

Jersey City-based Village Townhouse Estates has applied to the city’s planning department seeking approval to develop four properties they own at 303-311 First Street. Totaling just over 7,000-square feet, the land runs to the corner of Coles Street and is across the way from the currently under construction 233 Newark Avenue development.

Village Townhouse Associates envisions a five-story, 44-unit building rising on the land. The living spaces are set to skew smaller at the potential development; they currently consist of 16 studios and 28 one-bedroom apartments. No affordable units are included in the proposal, as none are required to be.

Designed by Cedar Grove-based Inglese Architecture & Engineering, 303 First Street will lack any retail component but will feature 11 parking spaces in a first-floor garage. Renderings have not been made available for the project, which will be requesting variances from the city’s planning board related to rear yard setbacks and driveway aisle width.

Village Townhouse Associates is owned by Peter Mocco, who has developed much of the Liberty Harbor neighborhood along the southern border of Jersey City’s Downtown. Mocco ran into trouble back in 2018 when a project of his at 245 Newark Avenue deviated from site plans and wasn’t constructed in accordance to approvals that were in place.

Mocco’s company built 245 Newark Avenue taller than submitted plans allowed, added unapproved mezzanines on two floors, and used façade materials that were not permitted. The developer found himself in a similar situation last year when his 333 Grand Street project was built with an extra floor that wasn’t approved by the city’s planning board.

Besides the unauthorized top floor, the company added several other unsanctioned elements to 333 Grand Street that included rear-facing bay windows, larger balconies, and a swimming pool. They again used an exterior insulation and finish system that is banned under current regulations and were fined $582,000 by the city over the violations.

Mocco’s company is currently constructing a 32-story development at 88 Regent Street that’s set to bring 392 units and over 9,000-square feet of retail space to a property near the Jersey Avenue Light Rail Station. Jersey City’s planning board has not set a date to hear Mocco’s First Street application, which was submitted to the city in June.

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