Following Rejection, LeFrak Submits New Plans for Newport Pier Park

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Newport Pier Park Current Lefrak Jersey City
The current state of the proposed future Newport Pier Park, Jersey City. Photo by Chris Fry/Jersey Digs.

One of Jersey City’s most prolific developers hoping to build new green space along the Hudson River waterfront will be giving it another go after eliminating a controversial portion of their previous plans.


Jersey Digs first broke the news last March about LeFrak’s intentions to bring a park to property at 15 Park Lane South. The 3.47-acre parcel is directly east of the company’s Ellipse development and consists of a mostly vacant pier that juts out along the Hudson River.

Newport Pier Park Current Aerial Lefrak Jersey City
Aerial view. Photo courtesy LeFrak via the application.

The formal plans were then revealed in June and quickly stirred a debate. While the exterior portion of the park would be open to the public, a sizeable interior section was slated to only be accessible to residents of LeFrak’s buildings.

That reality is what caused Jersey City’s planning board to reject LeFrak’s plans. Several speakers during the meeting expressed concerns that that scheme could violate regulations established in 1988 by New Jersey’s Coastal Zone Management, which dictates that developed properties along the Hudson River spanning from the George Washington Bridge to the Bayonne Bridge are required to construct a 30-foot-wide pathway at the water’s edge.

Newport Pier Park Previous Plan Lefrak Jersey City
LeFrak’s previous plan for Newport Pier Park, with portions that were set to be private highlighted in red. Plan by Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects.

LeFrak submitted new plans for the pier last month and portions of the proposal look similar to what emerged last year. Designed by New York-based Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects with engineering work from Jersey City-based Dresdner Robin, it calls for a 2,000-square-foot dog run along the western portion of the land.

Just south, an overlook would be built featuring a wood deck, tree pits, movable tables and chairs, and a “bar” complete with stools. New portions of the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway would be added along the northern and eastern areas, which would include lighted benches, two telescopes, and chaise lounges for locals to take in the view.

Newport Pier Park New Plan Lefrak Jersey City
LeFrak’s new plan for Newport Pier Park. Plan by Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects.

Just like the first version, a 14,000-square-foot “art plaza” is planned for the northeast portion of the park that is set to feature a sculpture surrounded by seating. The new plans would leave the formerly private section in the middle as an unimproved lot and LeFrak has not indicated what the future could be for that portion of the property.

The new plans for Newport Pier Park will need a variance related to the proposal’s Minimum Green Area Ratio to move forward. The planning board is tentatively scheduled to hear LeFrak’s application during their February 2 meeting.

While the future of the pier remains in limbo, some clarity could come soon regarding the future of a nearby property LeFrak owns. Their latest 33-story high-rise at 30 Park Lane was listed on the agenda for the planning board’s January 18 meeting.

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14 COMMENTS

  1. Yup. That revised plan comes across almost as a childish, petty, vindictive tantrum on their part, given the previous proposal. That they would prefer this ridiculous revised plan rather than let us peons step foot on their park is a giant middle finger to the whole city.

  2. I don’t see this as petty at all. It’s just business. Why should LeFrak acquiesce to what the city wants, or anyone for that matter, and build a public park on privately owned land? I assume they are doing the minimum requirement regarding the 30 foot wide waterfront walkway. They’ve eliminated the private park, which elitist as it may have, probably would not have had much public use anyway. My guess is they’re holding out for the best deal they can get from the City- which is what any savvy businessperson would do.

  3. Savvy- or greedy? Lefrak developers have gotten plenty of perks and tax breaks from the City already. It’s long overdue that they “give back” somewhat, to the city residents. They can easily plan out a 30ft wide path that loops around the pier. They can install a tall fenced-off area of the park, separating it from the waterfront walkway. Since the 80’s, cities, State & numerous civilian groups had called for/planned for a continuous pedestrian walkway/cyclist pathway along the NJ Hudson River waterfront, to be enjoyed and shared by all.

  4. “Savvy or greedy?”……It’s called Capitalism. It is what it is. If you would prefer codified poverty than that’s Socialism. The third option is you, and some others, buy the property from Lefrak and make a nice little park. If the new Lefrak plan doesn’t meet the legal requirements for a 30 ft walkway then it will get rejected.

  5. You could call it savvy, but yes, “profits above all” is corporate, capitalist greed at its finest, and this is a perfect example. Clearly you are a right-winger which is fine, but please learn the definition of socialism before throwing that term out there like you frequently do anytime community givebacks are discussed on here.

    Just because people want **basic** public benefits to go along with all the corporate profits LeFrak rakes in on the back of the overall community doesn’t make it socialism. He’s certainly within his rights so I’m not arguing it’s illegal, but looking at the cutout for the “unimproved area” it is extremely petty and greedy to hold out for such a tiny area instead of just making a nice public park that both residents and the public can enjoy. If you don’t think he’s being petty, what profit do you honestly think he can make off that area once this proposal is completed? A bunch of concession stands? A tiny apartment building? Get real.

  6. LeFrak have squeezed every drop of anything out of the city in give backs over the years and this is just BS… developers have gotten very rich off of the myriad (excess!) of massive buildings that we, the every day Jersey City residents have paid, when they get their abatements. This time they can just put up or shut up. Done with paying their way for them.

  7. I agree with parts of most of the posts, but I think it’s about finding middle ground. Yes it’s capitalism and business trying to get as much as it can for the money– it’s also not illegal, and every successful business I know will fight tooth and nail to survive and prosper– hire and fire people, open new satellite offices and close others down that are not profitable, cut product lines that are not selling, etc. Yes, they could also easily make a minimum 30-ft wide access that loops around the perimeter to conform with the intent of the requirement to provide public access to the Hudson River– they weren’t born yesterday that they have no idea how to do this– of course they know how to do this. They clearly are only willing to do as much as is required, at least at this point. I believe that may ultimately be a fatal flaw in their revised design– no full access along the entire perimeter; and it also appears that their latest design is a half-baked version of a fully thought-out concept for review– on purpose. I think the ultimate bottom line is, the more private park they can provide to future residents, the more they can charge per unit that they build. It will depend on how hard-nosed and savvy the planning board is versus LeFrak to get to some middle ground and sweat the details to provide a final concept that everyone can live with, and that LeFrak finds profitable and still worth building. It will sit as an empty, ugly pier until then; LeFrak may then sell the property and the process will start all over again with a new developer– maybe that will be the best thing to happen, maybe not, but it would delay a meaningful improvement for Jersey City. It’s called working together to get to a workable solution. We’ve all forgotten how to do that, even at the highest levels of government.

  8. I completely agree Structural Engineer, great points. I agree their needs to be a common ground, and that this sham proposal is on purpose as a middle finger to the planning board after the previous rejection (e.g. “I’m taking my marbles and going home!”). Having the public park on this land is a fair compromise. Yes, LeFrak deserves credit for investing in JC at a time when it was a literal wasteland. However as CKNJ noted they were compensated with extremely generous tax abatements for decades, so we’re even. They can now make up for their developments being some of the worst/largest urban development failures in JC, by opening up this new waterfront park to all residents of JC.

    This is just another extension of Mitt Romney’s infamous “you didn’t build that” right-wing idiocy, as if these developers are solely responsible for their success and owe their communities nothing in return. They would not be making a fraction of the profits they are without the vibrancy of the overall community and its basic geography, neither of which they are responsible for, so they can give the public this crumb.

  9. Lefrak is definitely not selling the pier. They don’t want a large structure built that would impede the views, the main selling point, from the Ellipse. I also don’t think a public park by itself is necessarily the best use of the site. Given its out of the way location there would be no real reason for anyone other than the * vibrant community* of nearby Newport locals to use it – which, by default, excludes the Socialist whiners as they most likely can’t afford Newport.

    So if there is no attempt to make it some sort of destination- e.g., a low rise museum, restaurant, aquarium, botanical garden, etc than park by itself is a bit pointless- other than a pretty site to see from one’s high rise window.

  10. Let me guess, you believe in “socialism” for developers (profiting off PUBLIC transit systems in their rates/marketing materials, tax abatements, etc.), just not for regular people and the community at large (e.g. public parks)? You think it’s more appropriate for the new plan above, rather than their original plan just with public access as well? I knew right-wingers were trained like Pavlov’s dogs by Roger Ailes & Rupert Murdoch to scream “socialism” any time they can’t substantively rebut an argument, but it is SO tiring at this point. Please read a dictionary (I’m serious).

    Your other point just does not make sense I’m sorry. So a park isn’t the best use of the site (what is then?) because it’s not in the middle of a bunch of cultural destinations? You would think that would actually EASE any “concerns” that the snobby snowflake Newport residents will be constantly overtaken by throngs of “undesirables”, allegedly shaving off hundreds of $$ of profit per unit per month.

    The vision for decades has been a fully open, public waterfront. This proposal directly contradicts that vision and should not be allowed, it’s that simple. LeFrak’s profits he thinks he’s entitled to are not more important than that. And here I thought Millennials were supposed to be the entitled ones!

  11. Lol………sounds like someone has a loudly buzzing bee in their silly socialist bonnet!……. What I said is that a park by itself, sans some other component(s) , is for me not the best use of the site . Including a art/cultural/ science/ learning center is a much more sensible use of the space. (reading is fundamental)

    Show me in the above plan where it says that south side is restricted to public access? Oh wait, you can’t. It is simply left, at this point, undeveloped. Obviously, Lefrak will have do what is mandated by the waterfront guidelines. If you’re so bugged out by all this why don’t you and your pals from Antifa get on your skateboards and go protest at City Hall and let them know how you REALLY feel!

  12. Well I misread your comment, but now that I see what you actually meant, I find it weird that you act like we’re all crazy socialists for wanting the (originally planned) park to simply be made public, but oh you want them to build a freaking science center. I’m surprised at you, that’s even more “socialist” than the mere public park everyone’s been discussing! Trust me I would LOVE for LeFrak to build an art/cultural/science/learning center instead (tho I’m not sure why you think that would leave much space left over for a park). Capitalism & LeFrak both being what they are, the chances of something as beneficial to the community as that happening seem to be zero without specific requirements or “socialist” tax incentives. Maybe he’s holding out for those as you mentioned in your first comment, which simply reinforces my core argument.

    Idk what you’re rambling about with the south side, but OF COURSE you throw out Antifa ROFL. If there’s nothing the city can legally do to require a public park then so be it, that will be the legal conclusion but I believe these developers have a moral obligation to the community and I hope the city does everything it can within the law to get maximum community benefits, whether that’s a park or a cultural destination as you suggest.

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