After Decades of Neglect, Jersey City’s Northern Downtown Rapidly Rising

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Lackawanna Jersey City Drone
The neighborhood north of the Holland Tunnel, west of Newport, and south of Hoboken started showing signs of life in the middle part of the decade. Now, several companies are bringing thousands of apartments, parks, and massive retail and community space to the area. Photo by Darrell Simmons/Jersey Digs.

Years of behind the scenes planning are now yielding to construction in a post-industrial neighborhood tucked between Hoboken and the palisades, as several companies are bringing thousands of apartments, parks, and massive retail and community space to what has been a somewhat forgotten slice of Downtown.


The neighborhood north of the Holland Tunnel, west of Newport, and south of Hoboken started showing signs of life in the middle part of the decade. The trailblazing Cast Iron Lofts and SoHo Lofts started revitalizing an area made up mostly of vacant lots, and the recently opened 100 House at The Enclave from BNE Real Estate has added 137 units in a five-story building spread across 1.8 acres.

100 House Jersey City
The second phase of The Enclave, called 100 House, recently welcomed its first residents. Image courtesy of BNE Real Estate.
The Enclave Jersey City Phase 2 Progress
Phase three of The Enclave is wrapping up construction. Photo by Chris Fry/Jersey Digs.

The neighborhood’s next arrival will be the third phase of The Enclave, which is being developed by joint venture partners BNE Real Estate Group, Hoboken Brownstone Company, and McKinney Properties and will add 238 apartments and 131 parking spaces across the street from the development’s initial component. Construction is humming along at the property, which is slated to welcome its first residents sometime next year.

Emerson Lofts Jersey City Progress 3
Emerson Lofts construction progress. Photo by Chris Fry/Jersey Digs.

The largest ongoing project in the area is the Emerson Lofts, which comes courtesy Manhattan Building Company. The project will build three new towers around a restored factory that was once home to the Emerson Radio Company, a scheme that includes 44,000 square feet of retail and a 23,900 square foot public space to be turned over to the city.

Emerson Lofts Jersey City Progress 2
Emerson Lofts. Photo by Chris Fry/Jersey Digs.
Emerson Lofts Jersey City Progress
Emerson Lofts. Photo by Chris Fry/Jersey Digs.

Totaling 1,000 units, the first 26-story phase broke ground earlier this year. Exterior façade work has begun on the new structure, while the windows and interior of the existing factory have been cleared. Water towers on top of the historical property are set to be preserved and painted with murals, while the existing roof will be revamped to include amenities like a pool, fire pits, a movie projection screen, greenery areas, and an outdoor TV section.

Coles Street Park Jersey City Construction
Coles Street Park site. Photo by Chris Fry/Jersey Digs.

Manhattan Building Company is also responsible for building Coles Street Park, which has seen intermittent work on the neighboring lot take place since last year. The $2 million endeavor will construct 1.5-acres of open space that includes a stage for live music and events, an enclosed playground, two separate dog runs, and open areas featuring various landscaping and decorative lighting.

305 Coles Street Jersey City Development
305 Coles Street site. Photo by Chris Fry/Jersey Digs.
305 Coles Street Jersey City Rendering
305 Coles Street rendering. Image courtesy of Hoboken Brownstone Company.

Several other projects loom over the area. Across from the future Coles Street Park, Hoboken Brownstone Company has been given the go-ahead to revitalize a lot at 305 Coles Street. Approved earlier this year but yet to break ground, the development looks to add 511 residential units and 9,790-square feet of retail plus a new pedestrian street to the block.

286 Coles Street Jersey City Development
Vacant lot at 286 Coles Street. Photo by Chris Fry/Jersey Digs.
286 Coles Street Jersey City Development Rendering
286 Coles Street rendering. Image courtesy of Marchetto Higgins Stieve.

The other vacant lot near the park at 286 Coles Street is owned by New York-based Albanese Development Group. Approvals are in place to build a tiered building including 670 residences and three retail storefronts at the land, although the only recent work to take place at the property involved building a proper sidewalk for pedestrians.

St Lucys Church 619 Grove Street Jersey City Development Rendering 2
Rendering of St. Lucy’s Church project. Image courtesy of MVMK Architecture.

The timeline for the revitalization of the former St. Lucy’s Church at 619 Grove Street is a bit clearer. Claremont Companies will be adaptively reusing the existing church and shelter buildings into a 23-story glass heavy tower totaling 444 apartments (including 13 affordable housing units) and 5,600 square feet of commercial space.

St Lucys Church Jersey City
St. Lucy’s Church. Image courtesy of MVMK Architecture.
St Lucys Shelter Rendering Jersey City
St. Lucy’s shelter portion is set to break ground next year. Image courtesy of MVMK Architecture.

As a community giveback, a new five-story homeless shelter will be built on a parcel across the street in partnership with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Newark. Set to include a total of 165 beds, 15 supportive housing units, five transitional housing units, and various community, administrative, and counseling space, the shelter component is slated to break ground early next year and open in the second half of 2022.

The totality of these developments will add over 3,000 housing units, a 1.5-acre park, a homeless shelter, over 73,000 square feet of retail, a 23,000 square foot public use space, and several new roads to the area. There’s potentially more in the pipeline; LeFrak has an approved project along 18th Street that appears to be stalled and the city is formulating a plan to revitalize the nearby Holland Gardens public housing development into condos and affordable housing.

The ongoing boom makes the neighborhood, referred to as Lackawanna, Horseshoe, or SoHo West depending on who you ask, unquestionably one of the fasting growing in Jersey City.

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19 COMMENTS

  1. I was so proud of Jersey Digs for not calling this area SOHO West until the last paragraph. It’s an embarrassment to JC to be lowering itself to make up a neighborhood that’s a ripoff of an iconic neighborhood in NYC and claiming SOHO is for South of Hoboken. And yes I will comment EVERY article about this neighborhood until SOHO West is eliminated from the JC dictionary.

  2. Agreed, glomming onto the SoHo West moniker is douchey and a fake ass attempt to be cool. For purposes of realtor babble I’d go with something like New Holland Gardens or the Holland Garden District.

  3. It’s kind of silly to call this gentrification. This area is literally an abandoned industrial wasteland for the most part. Together these developments are a no-brainer as they generate taxes and urban vibrancy from previously vacant land. They also have various other benefits including expanding/reconnecting portions of the street grid, the new park, preservation of (part of) the historic architecture, adding/preserving affordable housing, increasing homeless shelter beds & services, etc.

    In general that area near the Hoboken border is in need of revitalization (on both sides) and hopefully one day there will be a more continuous, vibrant streetscape between the two cities. If only they could build the light rail there and do something grand with the Lackawanna Center.

  4. Residents that were living in this area for decades are being pushed out because they can’t afford a 2, 3, or even 4k rent. Yes its still gentrification whether it was a wasteland or not.. Glad they’re adding a homeless shelter but it doesn’t make up for the businesses I’ve seen pushed out and the ppl.

  5. I really don’t see any “urban vibrancy” at all in this development. It had dead zone vibe that is somewhat less dead with tall new buildings but completely lacking in the kind of ambiance that one finds in , say, the repurposed areas of Brooklyn that JC is constantly being compared to. Cafes, bars, shopping, public spaces (save for one tiny ass “park”), promenades are all pretty much missing.

  6. I agree the affordable housing crisis needs to be addressed, and I would love to see higher affordable housing requirements everywhere. My point was that in this particular area (especially west of Jersey Ave) there are mostly not even any buildings (Moishe’s and..?) let alone very many residents to be displaced, and the public benefits being contributed by the developers are very solid wins (restoring several blocks of the street grid & building a new park especially).

    Again, surrounding locations here include the two I-78/Holland Tunnel underpasses, some kind of power substation, train tracks, Port Authority garages/lots, and the cliffs. The Emerson factory buildings have sat in disrepair for years and Coles Street in that particular area has to have been one of the most uneven/worst maintained stretches I’ve driven on in the city. This type of redevelopment would be a dream come true for many other cities (even some larger than JC). Opposing developments like this really does nothing to help fix the affordable housing crisis either, as supply is still an important part of the problem there.

    I’ll agree XTC that “vibrancy” may be overstating it given these particular developments. They are not groundbreaking by any means and existing retail is pretty dead in Cast Iron Lofts, etc. However the park and just having a higher concentration of actual residents will hopefully create a more vibrant feel over time. Also they will add at least a base level of urban continuity and an aesthetically pleasing streetscape.

  7. If your idea of up market living is marooned between one of the busiest stretches of road in NJ and the projects stranded from a looong walk from any amenities then this place is for you! I don’t understand the appeal at all especially as its really not any cheaper than living in one of the large modern buildings in Hoboken or JC with nice views of the city. I once saw a guy pleasuring himself behind a dumpster whilst waiting at the lights there and a mom let her child take a full pee in front of the door of the Sunoco because she was pissed they wouldn’t let her use the bathroom.

  8. Some would call it gentrification, others not. I would call it a modern day day-light robbery. There’s really nothing aesthetic about steel and glass buildings impaled into concrete and asphalt sidewalks and streets with nothing else around them that makes a city pleasant and charming. Some claim it generates tax revenue but what is there to show for these boatloads of money. People bitch, justifiably, about affordable housing, roads, transportation, infrastructure etc, but these issues are never ending and probably getting worse.

    TH “hopes” things improve, but JC and it’s developers’ track record says otherwise. Sorry to say but I don’t see anything like Bedford Ave or Knickerbocker Ave or Domino Park in Brooklyn coming to JC anytime soon.

  9. So what do you want, for them to leave it vacant for years more until some benevolent development fairy waves their wand to create the next Domino Park in this location? So people from across the city can flock across the Holland Tunnel access lanes toward this downtown destination? How would it even make sense to have that or something like Knickerbocker Avenue here?

    I’m genuinely confused what you’re arguing here, and you’re the one who’s just rambling/bitching about nonsense at this point. At least others are offering specific, considered criticisms, whereas you just seem to be upset that no one’s building another Vessel or High Line in this random isolated corner of JC. The location isn’t really suited for anything beyond the development plans outlined here as far as I’m concerned, given its surroundings. You rant about how horrible “steel and glass buildings impaled into concrete” are (what materials would make you feel good?) You act as if it would be better to have abandoned factory buildings and empty, fenced-off, overgrown lots with crappy streets/no sidewalks or greenery, etc. instead of supporting redevelopment such as this.

  10. If mediocrity and blandness are acceptable to you then your *hope* of *urban vibrancy* is a pipe dream. Love steel and glass. It depends on the context in which it is used. Hate the Vessel : )

  11. So much pointless complaining here by people who likely don’t even live in the area. I have been living in Cast Iron lofts for 5 years and I love the area and what its becoming.

    I work in Morristown so having a 1 minute drive onto the highway is actually convenient for people like me. Why would I spend an extra 15-20 minutes of my day fighting Hoboken traffic or driving deeper into downtown JC???

    Residents & businesses being displaced? This is a flat out lie. No businesses have been displaced if anything more will be added as the population density increases in the coming years. No one has been displaced in Holland Gardens and I love the cities vision for revitalization of the complex.

    I do agree this area needs a new nickname that unique to the area.

    Keep hating and spreading negativity on a message board. I will continue spreading positivity about the area and Jersey City in general….

  12. I totally agree KC & JCresident51! @XTC You still haven’t specified what you would actually prefer here or how you expect that to happen. The choice is this (collection of) plan(s) or vacant land here indefinitely. It’s not like this is the Embankment Coalition or the Bergen Arches, etc. where there are actionable plans and serious consideration & efforts for even greater/more culturally impactful revitalization efforts which I would of course gladly support over generic residential.

    Are people supposed to let this corner of the city sit vacant for 10 more years hoping something better just comes along one day? That there will be a different company that has an even better plan to preserve at least part of a historic factory building, restore the street grid and build a relatively sizable new park as part of their plans? Trust me, I would love for someone to deed all of these properties to the city and let them decide what to do for the people of JC (see: Bayfront). But absent that or some huge federal/state grant to some redevelopment nonprofit, this is the best case scenario and there are SO many other issues and bad actor developers (333 Grand, etc.) that need to be addressed vs. this.

    You condescend to the “hope” of added urban vibrancy (which I might add is perfectly feasible, even likely to happen once these projects are completed) , yet besides Knickerbocker Ave & Domino Park, what is it that you’re actually hoping for here? How can we build a new Bedford Ave without even having any buildings/sidewalks/streets in the area?

  13. JC will never be able to compete with Brooklyn in any way, the main reason people even make the comparison is because of the brownstones all across JC and proximity to NYC. That’s about where the similarities end. Even the brownstones in Brooklyn are far superior to the ones in JC…since even in the 1800s people preferred Brooklyn.

    The most obvious reasons are Brooklyn is a borough of NYC and even though JC likes to label itself as the “6th borough” (another cringeworthy attempt by JC to links itself to NYC), but it’s not and living in NJ is never going to be considered as cool as living in NYC or Brooklyn. The other obvious reason is Brooklyn is much bigger…2.6 million population vs. 265k.

    The less obvious reason is city hall and not developers. Jersey City is one of the hardest places to start a business. With an always corrupt politics and a permitting process that could be considered a form of torture in some cities, JC will never compete. Just the liquor license laws alone prohibits talented people from starting businesses here. Does JC have a decent food scene, yes, specially compared to NJ suburbs. But it shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same sentence as Brooklyn. I would even go as far as saying most JC restaurant wouldn’t even survive in Brooklyn outside of maybe a couple of place (Razza and Bread & Salt).

    Point of my rant being that the JC and Brooklyn comparison has to end. It’s like comparing Summit, NJ to Paris. So comparing this little section of JC in the middle of nowhere that’s barely one nyc block to Dumbo or Park Slope or anything Brooklyn is as ludicrous as calling this area SOHO West.

  14. @Dazed- Totally agree. The issue was about *hoping urban vibrancy* magically occurs after people start living in the finished buildings. It will always be a bit of a queer location with minimal foot traffic and an absence of dynamic retail. This was the last big parcel to develop because it was always the ass end of JC boxed in by the Turnpike on one side, the Palisades on another and anchored by the Holland Gardens projects and St Lucy’s shelter. It was the bastard child nobody wanted. One can call it an upgrade if they must, but as the saying goes, you can put lipstick on a pig but it’s still a pig.

    Corto, Mi Mariachi, Korai Kitchen, Dream Spicy would wipe the floor with Brooklyn any day.

    And the Mana Arts Center, the true hidden gem of JC, is beyond world class. This rivals anything one could find in London or Berlin. Nothing in Brooklyn is even close.

  15. @Dazed I agree about the BK comparisons, I understand why people make it in the sense of them both being Manhattan alternatives for renters, but otherwise I don’t think they’re a good comparison for the reasons you listed, especially the sheer population/area difference. That was part of my argument, that there’s no reason to expect this area to ever be like Domino Park or Knickerbocker Ave., etc., but that also doesn’t mean it’s total garbage from an urban planning perspective for JC, being that residential with minimal retail like this is really all this area is suited for IMO.

    @XTC I agree as well that there are multiple restaurants that rival Brooklyn, and I would highly disagree with saying “most wouldn’t survive in Brooklyn” There are multiple pizza places alone that I would say rival Brooklyn pizza (I personally love Rustique), and that’s not even getting into Indian, etc.

    About the vibrancy, all I’m saying is that the park, reconnected/renovated street grid & thousands of residential units coming online in the next few years will certainly add at least a base level of “vibrancy” just from having people there out and about (unless the units end up mostly empty). I would hope that the extended street grid can somehow slightly connect that area to Hamilton Park, which would help a lot. I’m not equating the word “vibrant” strictly with “Knickerbocker Ave” level, so that may be where we have to agree to disagree. These plans are solid (and unspectacular, yes) and there doesn’t seem to be a better alternative on the horizon (I’m not sure what more you would want here from a developer anyway), so the choice is between supporting this or leaving the land vacant until another developer buys it and re-conceives it.

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