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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10 COMMENTS

  1. People are building like it’s still 2016…there are WAY too many rental buildings coming into this area. Granted this one will probably never get passed with zero parking so very unlikely this one ever breaks ground. But in Lafayette there are about 6-7 massive buildings hitting the market. They better hope the market can handle it.

      • Maybe it will…maybe it won’t. That wasn’t my point. My point is there are an outrageous amount of rental units going up with a slowing housing market. The expectation is the market is going to keep churning along and you can just build and it will be filled. Downtown probably still has the demand, but this area is still pretty run down overall and one of the 3-4 respectable restaurants just went out of business. So we’ll see if they can fill the thousands of units hitting the market in the next 6 months.

        • Actually the market keeps going up and down. Rentals are actually still in high demand. Like the grass looking building is already almost completely rented… Buying market depends on the federal percentage and cost of mortgages… The higher the percentage, the less people buy. But people still rent… Also with more rentals popping up, the more suply there will be therefore at one point prices get effected throughout the market… Keep building…

        • Also with more units available and more density which this area needs to assist the businesses, more businesses will be established… It’s an statistical fact

  2. Wouldn’t worry too much about developers taking risks in a market. That’s what they signed up for and it’s part of the business. More concerned with how they will alter an historic building. Need a rendering.

  3. Not sure what historic value this building has. The facade is plainer than plain red brick done in a very generic gothic style. It’s basically a Bayonne box of a church. The original stained glass and doors have been removed and doubt the new owners will cough up the money to restore them and obviously the interior will be completely gutted. At 36 units shouldn’t be hard to rent. The demand is there plus this location will be cheaper than other options. Unless the economy drastically changes for the worse this is a build it and the millennials will come proposition.

    • It’s 100 times better than whatever generic building they would put up if they demolished. The concern isn’t renting these 36 units…it’s the thousands of units that are about to hit the market 2 blocks from this. There are 6-7 massive buildings that are all hitting the market around the same time.

      Believe me I live in this area and would love if they all get filled but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned.

      • Agreed. When a plain ass old building is 100 times better than a new building that looks like a Soviet era housing complex that’s saying something! Lol.

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