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.
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.