Changes May Be Coming to Morris Canal Redevelopment Plan

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975 Garfield Avenue Bergen Lafayette Jersey City Exterior Rendering
Proposed development within the Morris Canal Redevelopment Plan, 975 Garfield Avenue, Bergen-Lafayette, Jersey City. Rendering via LWDMR Architects.

As Bergen-Lafayette continues to come into its own, development has started to pick up in the neighborhood. The opening of Berry Lane Park, in particular, has led some to believe that the area around the greenspace is prime for revitalization.

Last year, Jersey Digs reported that Brooklyn-based Read Property Group was putting together a proposal for a tract of land between Bramhall Avenue and Union Street, which is directly across from Berry Lane Park and steps from the Light Rail station. It called for 99 residential units, 1,172 square feet of amenities space, two retail storefronts on the ground floor, and 50 parking spaces.

The Jersey City Redevelopment Authority designated the company as redeveloper in 2016, but there was one problem; the project was drafted to be five stories tall, and current zoning under the Morris Canal Redevelopment Plan regulates that maximum height at the property is three stories.

975 garfield ave jersey city development
975 Garfield Avenue | Credit: Google Street View

As a result, Read Property Group has submitted a request that the city make amendments to the current Morris Canal Redevelopment Plan in the Mixed Use “D” Zone, which is the area their land falls within. In exchange for allowing them to build five stories in height, the developer would designate 5% of the on-site units at the property as affordable housing, plus make a financial contribution to Berry Lane Park.

The proposed changes to the Morris Canal Redevelopment Plan that were requested were listed on the planning board’s June 19 agenda, and attorneys for Read Property Group testified that the 5% affordable housing number was what a lender told them would make the project financially feasible. The modifications to the plan were tabled to a later date, with some board members and public speakers expressing concern that the 5% affordable number was too low.

It’s worth noting that most redevelopment plans in Jersey City don’t include any affordable housing requirement, although Morris Canal’s scheme is a rare, if limited, exception. Certain areas of the Morris Canal Redevelopment Plan, including its Residential 2 Zone, actually do have a 5% affordable requirement, but many sections, including the Mixed Use “D” Zone, do not.

The earliest the planning board could weigh in on the Morris Canal amendments would be at their July 10 meeting. If they sign off on the changes, the city council would then have to approve the modifications, and any specific plans for 975 Garfield Avenue would still need to be submitted to and approved by the planning board at a later date before that project could move forward.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. Was at the meeting. Complaints made NO SENSE at all. As it stands, zoning allows 3(only) story building, without any affordable housing. The proposal here was to add affordable housing to the mix and simply allow a 5 story building. The reason for 5 percent (FOR ENTIRE BUILDING, NOT ADDED 2 STORIES), was bank allowed maximum of that amount. Board didn’t vote on the project since confusion was where the 5% came from. I don’t understand why question this. This is not a highrise being proposed, this is only 5 story and added affordable housing, where there were none to begin with. People were too greedy demanding things they don’t have numbers or information to. Some were citing NY rules where there is a 80/20 rule, however with this rule there are huge tax benefits that follow, and NONE here! Therefore, people’s demands were baseless. I think this is a HUGE benefit to the community for affordable housing, for removal of an EYESORE near a brand new park, and added commercial space where it’s actually needed! This must go through, otherwise it would be a HUGE LOSS TO THE AREA …

    • I agree with you 100%. I own a home a few blocks down Garfield and it’s appalling to drive by so much undeveloped land. It’s been a dumping ground for trash and abandoned cars. A HUGE eyesore indeed. This would benefit the entire neighborhood and complement Berry Lane park as well.

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