Four Towers, 2,360 Units Proposed for the Edge of Downtown Jersey City

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Downtown Jersey City High Rise Towers Proposed 2
Early conceptual rendering of the proposed project. Rendering credit: STUDIO V Architecture.

Manhattan Building Company has made a name for themselves in recent years by developing both the Cast Iron and SoHo Lofts that run along the northwestern fringe of Jersey City’s Downtown. The company is now heading a bit south but still sticking to Downtown’s edges with their latest proposal, which would rise next to the I-78 Turnpike extension.

Earlier this month, a community meeting was held to unveil the company’s new plans for several lots they own inside five blocks of the Bates Street Redevelopment Area. Manhattan Building Company had previously presented a proposal for 870 units to the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency (JCRA) last year that was mostly allowed as-of-right, with the tallest portions of that project rising 125 feet.

Bates Street Development Area Jersey City
Bates Street Redevelopment Area. Photo via Google Maps.

While the company’s subsidiary, Bates Redevelopment LLC, was designated a redeveloper at the JCRA’s November 21 meeting, their vision for the area has changed significantly. Designed by New York-based STUDIO V Architecture, the new plan proposes 2,360 rental units in four towers.  Manhattan Building Company is the Master Redeveloper for the Redevelopment Area and is proposing one 50-story tower.  The other towers will be developed by other property owners within the area – those towers range between 23 and 46 stories.

Jersey City Real Estate Development Bates Street Skyrise 2

“Our work is all about reinventing edges and reconnecting communities,” said Jay Valgora, founder of STUDIO V. “Bates Street area is a perfect example: two communities separated by former industrial sites and an elevated highway— where there used to be a continuous fabric of residences and parks. Our design brings this back, combining the two scales of Jersey City, townhouses with slender towers, connected by green streets and parks. We want to reconnect the South End and Van Vorst communities— and provide new amenities for both.”

Several of the towers employ a tiered design and are more slender than the “wall” of buildings that’s allowed under current zoning, a move the developer says was made to preserve the city’s view corridor. The development would be built between Center and Bates Streets, feature some retail space, and include one indoor parking spot for every two units, for a total of 1,180 spaces.

Jersey City Real Estate Development Bates Street Townhouse 2
Early conceptual rendering of the proposed project. Rendering credit: STUDIO V Architecture.

To build its proposed vision, Manhattan Building Company would need to utilize bonuses within the Bates Street Redevelopment Plan. 360 units are permitted at the properties without the bonuses, so adding an additional 2,000 units to the project would generate $11 million in fees towards an Open Space Trust. Possible uses of the funds, according to the presentation, include adding a spray park and basketball courts at the Booker T. Washington apartments, making improvements to Van Vorst Park, or the development of a community center somewhere in Ward F.

Manhattan Building Company additionally told residents during the meeting that they would make a $2.5 million donation towards building a world-class recreation center, also in Ward F. The company’s presentation stressed that they are striving to re-connect a neighborhood that was divided in the 1950s when the Turnpike extension was built, already speaking to the state’s Department of Transportation about the possibility of cleaning up the highway’s underpass to create a walkable corridor to Gateway Field.

Bates Street Development Area Jersey City 2
Early conceptual rendering of the proposed project. Rendering credit: STUDIO V Architecture.

The current version of the project would include 20% affordable housing per the proposed Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance that’s winding its way through Jersey City’s council. Representatives for Manhattan Building Company stated during the meeting that they aren’t looking for any type of tax abatement and are committed to providing job opportunities for local minority contractors by working with Jersey City’s Office of Diversity.

Manhattan Building Company says they are willing to make significant infrastructure upgrades to move the project forward through the establishment of a Special Assessment District (SAD). All property owners in the area would need to agree and sign off on the SAD, which would raise four blocks of roads, including Center Street, to prevent flooding. The work would also separate an existing combined sewer in the area into two systems, remove combined water lines, and build new stormwater and sanitary systems.

The work is estimated to cost around $15 million and would be paid for by the developer, who would install the infrastructure in phases as the project gets built out. It’s worth noting that Jersey City’s Municipal Utilities Authority, via a contractor, just replaced sewer lines along Bright and Center Streets last November in sections where flooding has historically been an issue.

Members of both the Center Street Block Association and the Van Vorst Park Association say they were not officially invited to the initial meeting that was held, but residents will be able to voice their opinions about the development soon. Manhattan Building Company will be hosting another meeting to present their plans on June 19 starting at 6 p.m. inside the Conwell Middle School at 107 Bright Street.

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68 COMMENTS

  1. Ward F, First! Definitely a much better design and concept than the previous ones! Look and feel. 20% affordability on premise. Millions of dollars into infrastructure. Millions of dollars into centers for the community. Work to ensure that this part of our city that connects bergen /Lafayette and downtown will no longer flood during heavy rain storms. Also concept that will allow the current townhouses near by to flow with the concept. What else can you ask for?

    • “What else can you ask for?” We can ask for the Bates LLC to explain how come they decided that owner-occupied Center St. homes that are currently zoned for 7 stories potential development have been downgraded to 3-4 stories without any prior discussion, while the designated developer is seeking an upgrade from the existing 7 stories all the way to 50+ ?! We can look at the tax records and see that Bates LLC succeeded in buying only 1 residential lot so far and used JCRA to force-acquire 2 more (on the area of 4 square blocks populated by families). And we can also ask why the designated developer is proposing redundant sewage repairs which were largely completed last November by JCMUA and successfully eliminated flooding on Center St. Perhaps they are seeking an an excuse to displace the families who live here and are trying to hold on to their homes and property rights. Since when does a designated developer decide who gets to keep their home or not? To have our taxes doubled by the Reval only to be told that we are an obstacle to someone’s profit and therefore unfit to keep our property? I think we can ask for a higher standard in how this city treats its residents and taxpayers. #CenterBlockJC #HandsOFFMyProperty

      • I hope you and everyone else who lives there bans together to fight this. they have no right to force people out and quite simply, it’s really effed up.

        • yes I’m very familiar with the area. there is some abandoned stuff, but also other places where people and families live.

        • My family has been living in this area for over three years, we bought our home from a sculptor whose works are featured in the Smithsonian. There are 12 families who rent and own homes along Center St and just many children (mine included) who are enrolled in local schools. You can find homeless drug addicted people in any neighborhood park, and unlike greedy developers they mind their own business and don’t look to steal our property. We have a neighborhood watch and a block association for which we received multiple citations from our Councilman and the JCPD. We exist.

      • @natashaioffe what you were concerned with was the displacement factor through eminent domain, however that is no longer the plan, as we learned, if you wish to ensure that you can build larger on your property, than I’m sure you can present a proposal to planning whenever you are ready for your proposal. Unless we are all being lied to, I don’t understand what is wrong here at this point.

      • I was really bothered when I first heard about the slimy tactics to get people land. I am all for new development but you can’t just take people’s land to make it happen.

  2. This area has been an eye sore for so long, it’s about time someone is actually getting something done here. I like that Manhattan Building Company is investing all that money in infrastructure without asking for a tax abatement.

    • They have never built anything in Jersey City without tax abatements, even Sugar House is abaited. If you trust a developer who stand to make(and made) billlions you are naive. If they never done it before why would they start now?
      There is misrepresentation about infrastructure as well, MUA received $15 million grant and executed it successfully in 2018. We have separated sewer and rain drainage system. They should credit themselves wit Red Sox championing the World Series in ‘18

  3. I love this design! And Rec centers, open space, infrastructure and Affordable Housing! This area has been a baron wasteland for the last 30 years – This is a great project for the City and will preserve the view corridor.

    • yay! its great to make 150k a year and be a bland yuppie doing “the New York thing”……dude go back to Ohio

    • yes so excited to see more wannabe sophisticates, with their strollers, granola moms, midwest values, Whole Foods, big box restaurants disguised as authentic, ready made pubs, and lets not forget………..the vacuum of human existence that you can feel around any of this developers projects…..cool so excited

  4. They’re using this “wall” reference as a manipulation to justify this plan. Whether there is a “wall” of 14 story buildings or four 50 story buildings the views are going to be blocked. The spaces between the buildings are not going to give you a view unless you’re lines up with them perfectly. The 20% affordable is part of the standard either way. The Frank Hague, corrupt and manipulative legacy of Jersey City prevails, just like the racism in this country that people would like to pretend no longer exists.

    • 20% affordability is not a standard in any regard. Only reason it’s a standard in NYC, is due to its tax credits received. There are no abatements here, no tax incentives. All paid by developers…

      • Developers that exist due to tax breaks and no governmental oversight. where can I send my thank you card to them?

  5. so stupid, why do these developers really feel that 2300 apartments is a good idea? don’t they realize how crowded it’s getting? how expensive it is? how infrastructure is failing? oh that’s right…they don’t care.

    • Do you suggest it remains as is? A baron wasteland? A trashed site with heroin needles all over the ground? Where every time it rains the streets flood? Don’t be so quick to hate unless you have a better idea. I get these developers are probably going to make $$ but it’s business- and I don’t see anyone else trying to make it better.

      • That’s not true. There are no needles on the streets. We work with police so many illegal activities are thing of the past. We have a certificate of good standing for our property and invested $$$ money in it. Come knock at my door at 218 Bright, I’ll show you. That is of course if you don’t work for the developer and have a real name.

    • It is really expencive because ther isn’t enough supply. Every step that restricts new development makes things more expencive. This area is not crowded at all. It’s almost empty.

      • “this area” …Jersey City in general is. not every area has to be over crowded. they want to build things there? how about a few rows of two to three family homes? not “bayonne boxes” , but nice homes?

  6. I’m amazed that they think they’ll find 2300+ tenants to live there (at market rates).
    It’s a 20 minute walk to Grove Street, backs up against the Turnpike and is surrounded by nothing that these market-rate yuppies would consider visiting.
    It’s also out of scale for the neighborhood. If it’s approved, I hope they cut the number of floors in half.

  7. The plan with height bonuses only allows up to 10 stories, 105 feet. I’m not sure why they are stating that this height is permitted. They are going have to get this approved by the Planning Board and then City Council to revise this plan. Also, was the Village Neighborhood Association even contacted? I love how the developer or “consultants” clearly wrote some of these comments….

    • Stacey, These people are terrified of transparency and incapable of conversation with intelligent people. They managed to organize a “community” meeting without inviting people who own houses and live there.

      As of today the managed to drive away only one family. MBC owns single lot 25×100. The’re serious and connected people working us every day. If they say something bad can happen to you within 2 hours a team of 4 city agencies inspectors come to you and issue you thousands dollars worth of violations. Some of them might have had a merit, most they didn’t dare to prosecute. Not everyone will want to live fighting. Some already gave up, some probably will. It’s just hard to believe that it is happening in 2019 US, a mile away from Lady Liberty.

      • why is this hard to believe? Americans are the most soft, pathetic punk ass people on earth. Hong Kong just apologized to its citizens after the courageous people squashed their government in protests. we have a criminal in office and not one peep from the Americans. they are suckers, soft, weak and spineless. but hey. theres always their smartphones to stare at! so. yeah it does occur here. its your fellow countrymen to blame not some half American half Israeli oligarch. blame yourselves!!!

  8. How will this plan (specifically the tower at the corner of Bates/Grand in top rendering) work with the current building under construction on that corner? It appears to be 10 stories with cladding about to start.

    Otherwise this looks like an awesome proposal, and no abatements. 78 & the exit ramp create a horrible dividing line that no one should want to remain as is. LOVE the part to clean up & create a corridor below the highway, as well as the other community benefits listed. Hopefully they can figure out all the details because this would be a great addition especially in that area.

  9. Wow, more privileged people moving in. How about some tax credits for people who’s been living here for the past 30 years and can’t afford it anymore. I have a simple question, who benefits beside the mayor, politicians and rich developers? The city is booked up already, don’t you see it? If can’t see it, try riding the Path in the morning or park your car. Enough is enough. “Where’s the revolution
    Come on, people, You’re letting me down, Where’s the revolution, Come on, people, You’re letting me down” Martin Lee Gore-Depeche Mode

  10. Jersey Digs! Please don’t do us such a disservice failing to mention amenities such as the PATH train!!!
    You can live in this home of grandeur and be a lucky rider of the insufferable PATH train.
    2300+ more riders along with the 99 Hudson crew on the PATH, being barricaded in the city on weekends, stopovers in HOBOKEN, and slow midday service!! Sign me up!!! Thanks a lot Fulop for your utmost attention to the matters.

  11. No abatements ; instead MBC is asking for and city council Robinson is backing this immensely over capacity over density structure in exchange for $15 million in “give back”. MBC dev will make near $100 million/year. This area is the last outskirt of Downtown JC, upper floors will have NYC skyline/statue views. The Indians got a better deal for Manhattan.

    • As usual Fulop’s development approval crew turns a blind eye and a deaf ear any talk about the severe negative impact on road and transit infrastructure. Those residents who already live in Jersey City and the surrounding area will see their own quality of life decreased because of over development Anyone who thinks this project has not been already green been lighted by Fulop is delusional, the public hearings are just window dressing.

  12. Also developer has not been transparent and forthcoming. Residents are not sure what is correct, what is going on. Hence some misinformation. Hopefully MBC will not be late and not finish early. Hopefully will take our questions verbally instead of reading select questions from cards.

    • They said no to the school question last night during the meeting. They also say that SoHo West/Cast Iron Lofts only has ~7% of residents being school age children. Not sure that translates into this project or what the impact is more likely to be. I feel like the population of SoHo West/Cast Iron is mostly out of town people who are trying on the “NYC Thing” for a while with no plans to stay in the neighborhood because honestly walking around over there is less than pleasant so I can’t imagine anyone would stay in that ‘community’ for long.

      Something else that they said multiple times at the meeting last night was about “connectivity” and trying to bring the neighborhood back together that the highway split. Wondering if that was a selling point of SoHo West because it’s pretty disconnected from the rest of JC. I mean, you have to cross the highway to get there and once there it’s not much to look at.

      I think it was disrespectful of the builder to tell one of my fellow community member’s that he’d “said enough” when bringing up affordable housing buyouts and asking a question related to that. I also think it was disrespectful to now allow a true open forum with regards to questioning, the councilman should have insisted on that as that it what a lot of people came for. It’s not enough to say “we have to be out of here in 5 minutes but ask anything you want during that time!”

      Growth happens and communities develop and that can be a really good thing. Like the commitment to fixing the flooding problem and money for the City’s Dept of Rec. Would be happy to hear more info about what will happen to the current residents of the area, and how to protect some current community resources like Van Vorst Park from over crowding. Would like to hear from the Dept of Transpo/Port Authority about how they are going to absorb the extra riders.

      Also, how about a little transparency from the comment section. Pretty sure Val = Jay Valgora, the architect behind the project which is why his comments are overwhelmingly in favor of the project.

      • No. Val is not Jay. Val comments on other developments on JerseyDigs. Com. I’m a neighbor literally 10 minutes walk from this site, (up the hill) . Just because I have an opinion does not mean I have any connections with these developments or developers.
        This development is a great plan and idea. I completely support it in every regard! I think it’s a perfect proposal and fits all requirements and needs of the city. However, I’m concerned about the residents that currently reside there. There should be a clear understanding as to the developers and current residents, either old or new. The school answer was not a positive however, anyone familiar with the area would know there is a school being building literally a block away from this location on grand…

        • and anyone familiar with the area would know that that is Ferris High School, an overcrowded school at that. Further down, you have 3 and 4 school- which is nearing capacity already.

          • The school issue absolutely must be addressed, but should there be a moratorium on new housing until new schools are built?

            I agree with Val. High-density development in transit-rich areas is smart urban planning, not to mention important for environmental sustainability. This is exactly the kind of development we should be encouraging in places like this. The current state of that area simply does not benefit the community the way this project would. Plus a significant increase in units like this is a good thing for affordability, not a bad thing as rents and demand in the city/region is so high.

            The current residents should be compensated and assisted, but let’s face it, those lots are isolated, rundown and lightly populated. At a certain point the larger good takes precedence IMO. The specifics of this proposal show how serious the developers are about healing the divide created by I-78. Whether that’s out of the goodness of their heart or just to add to the units’ value to increase their bottom line, who cares? The underpass is/has been a disaster for the surrounding communities and nothing has been done for years. Why turn down this opportunity?

  13. I’m glad to see people finally speaking out on this site. I get the sense that there’s a lot of cheerleading developers that post here, but it’s good to hear from people that aren’t that.

  14. The MS 4meeting about the Bates Development just finished and it was a politically staged event with minimal community input permitted. Council member Robinson and his staff facilitated and ran the meeting for the Manhattan Building Company developers. Like the previous meeting May 29, community members were not allowed to verbally ask questions but were made to write down questions on cards with a pencil. Is this a new City Council trend to manage/discourage the community? Robinson’s aide then read them out loud, answers were vague and general. There will not be another meeting. The developers, backed by their supporters, are not addressing community concerns. We need honest, ongoing, transparent dialogue, about what can be a great development for all of Ward F and a testament to what JC can be, not just a land grab, million dollar deal for a greedy few. Contact city council 201 547 5388 [email protected], and Mayor Fulop 201 547 2000 [email protected] that they address the needs of the community not the developers.

    • wow, that sounds like a really crappy meeting…literally silencing any type of community concerns. “well, at least you can write your concerns down!!” and gave fake and generic answers, because they simply don’t care. horrible.

  15. Don’t know where they are going to put all the people who will live in these buildings who need to take the PATH train to work. Overcrowding and delays have been ongoing for years. Yesterday the JSQ train was full at 1 pm in the afternoon. When the 70 story tower at JSQ is complete that could easily add 4 or 5 thousand more commuters per day. Add all the other new developments and an already horrendous commute will be even worse.

  16. I attended the MS4 session last night and felt that it was very one-sided. The idea was to check the box so that they could say that there was “community involvement” and the concerns of the neighbors were “sufficiently addressed”. I did not feel like the meeting provided a chance for any of this. I did observe Manhattan Building Company’s CEO cut short one of our neighbors when asking the developer for clarification on how the project will impact his community.

    These “SoHo West” style “self-contained, amenities-included” types of projects do very little to improve the city, the neighborhood itself, or the surrounding areas. This is why the developer feels the need to push the issue of the one-time “givebacks” in order to get the city to green-light the project and then the problem of impact on the neighborhood “goes away” in the mind of the developer.

    We should be looking to improve the neighborhoods we have by bringing in developers who listen to the concerns of the community and don’t just try to force their plans through the political system. Explain to us why this is truly for the greater good of Jersey City. A development group greatly benefits at the expense of schools, transportation system, culture, and neighborhood character.

  17. Developments of this scale are completely ridiculous for a city the size of Jersey City. There is no infrastructure and no real plans that I’ve seen, to support monstrously large projects like this.

    Jersey City residents need developers who aren’t just vampires, sucking up the life blood of residents to make money.

    And yes, this site is clearly cheerleading for the over development of Jersey City and it’s good to see others speaking out against projects like this, and not just an echo chamber for the greedy developers.

  18. Those who seem to want this are vying for JC to build as much as possible so their own house prices go up. But the reality is that JC is building out of control and not investing in any infrastructure and as more people flood in the worse it’s going to get. How are these people going to get to work in the city? Been on the Path lately there are no more tunnels and the trains are at capacity. Traffic in JC is already horrendous.

    Sure go head keep adding these buildings a taking the abatements don’t bother investing in infrastructure I’m sure it will be fine.

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