A large vacant lot in the Bergen-Lafayette neighborhood of Jersey City could soon be home to a four-building charter school site that would create over 2,000 new student seats in the district.
A North Arlington-based entity called Friends of Quality Education Inc. is looking to transform 79 Caven Point Avenue into the Canal Crossing Charter Public School Campus. The property in question is a narrow but long Battleship-shaped vacant lot with Caven Point Avenue to the north, Bayview Avenue to the south, and Cinelease Studios to the west.
The proposed campus, designed by KSS Architects, falls entirely within the Canal Crossing Redevelopment Area. It would be home to public school facilities for both BelovED Community Charter School and the Empowerment Academy Charter School if the plan goes through, with the largest portion set to serve 9th through 12th-grade students.
Breaking down the campus by the structures, the plan includes one 69,000-square-foot Elementary School designed for 720 students and a 35,000-square-foot Middle School to serve 360 pupils. The remaining two buildings would be High Schools and total 89,000 square feet, with combined space for 960 students.
Each of the High Schools would sport fully outfitted chemistry, biology, physics, and technology labs, a maker space for the study of robotics, electronics, CAD-based design and 3-D printing, an art room with a potter’s wheel and kiln, and a large college and career counseling suite.
A triple-sized gymnasium, a 500-seat auditorium, a digital production studio, and a rooftop deck that features a synthetic field plus a children’s playground are also included within the facilities. The entire campus would be built to meet LEED Silver requirements and the structures would heavily utilize fiber cement panels on the exterior.
The property surrounding the buildings would feature an 82,000-square-foot commons area with shared spaces and a 343-space parking deck beneath and adjacent to the commons section. Friends of Quality Education say their aim is to create a “park-like” feel at the campus, which will feature loads of landscaping around the perimeter.
As part of the buildout of the campus, the developer would construct a portion of the Morris Canal Greenway on a neighboring parcel that is owned by the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency. That stretch would feature walking and bicycle paths, landscaping, lighting, a retaining wall, and fencing.
All in all, Friends of Quality Education’s plan would create 2,040 new school seats that would be open to every child in the Jersey City public school system. The schools will provide free bus transportation to and from every neighborhood, and taxpayers will not be funding any portion of the construction.
The area surrounding the proposed charter school campus is slated to grow significantly in the coming years. Boraie Development has plans in the works for over 1,200 units at a large parcel near the Garfield Avenue Hudson Bergen Light Rail station, and the area of Bergen-Lafayette near Liberty State Park has welcomed several new developments in recent years.
The application submitted by Friends of Quality Education is scheduled to receive a Section 31 “courtesy review” by the planning board during their February 7 meeting. If all goes according to plan, the group hopes to have their facilities completed and ready to welcome students for the September 2025 start of that school year.