Developer Pays $3M for Bergen-Lafayette Church Property, Proposes 36 Units

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326 Pacific Avenue June 2015
The former St. John’s AME Church at 326 Pacific Avenue as seen in June 2015. Photo via Google Maps.

For the third time in five years, plans have been filed in connection with a possible redevelopment of a former religious institution in Jersey City.


The new owner of the vacant St. John’s AME Church and a neighboring property in Bergen-Lafayette is following in the previous two owners’ footsteps by seeking to convert the site into residential use.

The current application to the Jersey City Planning Board calls for the “historically significant church” at 326 Pacific Avenue to be rehabilitated while a one-story building on the adjacent tract at 297 Whiton Street would be torn down, according to a legal notice that was issued earlier this month. The site of the demolished building would be replaced with an extension of the church, ultimately leading to a 36-unit development that would take up both tracts.

“The proposed project is a substantially different design” from the previously proposed development, according to the notice, which adds that this is an “as of right” application for Preliminary and Final Site Plan approval.

18 parking spaces for bicycles would be provided under this proposal. This differs from the last application since there are now no plans listed for vehicle parking. In addition, the last project, which was approved nearly two years ago, called for a total of 33 residential units and for additional floors to be added to the church itself.

The new owner, Pacific Whiton, LLC, paid just under $2 million for the church and $985,500 for the Whiton Avenue property in March, according to property records. The company is associated with an address on Van Horne Street, a building on Ocean Avenue, and a property in Monsey, New York.

St. John’s AME Church merged with Mount Pisgah AME Church on Forrest Street in 2014. The Pacific Avenue building was later owned by an affiliate of New Brunswick-based New Jersey Community Capital that had put forth a proposal to adaptively reuse the church into a 12-unit development.

The company behind the latest proposal is scheduled to go before the Jersey City Planning Board during its meeting on Tuesday, September 24, at 5:30 p.m.

Note to readers: The dates that applications are scheduled to be heard by the Jersey City Planning Board and other commissions are subject to change.

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