Despite plenty of new projects being built on the surrounding blocks, the Bates Street Redevelopment Plan Area at the southwestern edge of Downtown Jersey City has largely avoided the area’s major increase in residential and mixed-use development. However, with plans in the works to possibly bring at least 870 apartments to the community, the neighborhood’s future is uncertain.
Now, a city agency is looking to buy property in the area. The Jersey City Redevelopment Agency (JCRA) is moving forward with plans to acquire 34 and 36 Center Street, two neighboring lots at the corner of Brook Street in Ward F that sit just across the block from the Columbus Drive off-ramp from Interstate 78. During its meeting on July 30, the JCRA’s Board of Commissioners voted to accept the New Jersey Realty Advisory Group’s appraisal of the tracts at $520,000 and move forward with acquiring them once funding is secured. The resolution that was approved states that the JCRA “has determined it necessary to acquire” these sites, but does not go into detail.
Currently, the properties, which are vacant and surrounded by fencing, are under the ownership of a company called MLS Realty, LLC. The firm is registered out of the same Newark Avenue address as Data Realty.
The plans by the JCRA come amid a dispute in the neighborhood over who has the authority to develop certain properties. Although developers Sanford Weiss and Alex Wright of Bates Redevelopment, LLC were recently designated as the redevelopers of multiple lots in the area, several of those properties are actually owned by Mecca Properties. Three subsidiaries of Mecca recently filed a lawsuit against the JCRA, Weiss, Wright, and multiple city officials in an effort to gain the right to redevelop their own properties.
The JCRA’s Board of Commissioners often designates companies as the redevelopers of properties that they do not own. In fact, in March, we reported that Landmark Developers was given such a designation for a tract owned by New Jersey Transit in Bergen-Lafayette in order to construct a hotel, even though the state’s public transportation provider told us that they had not even been contacted by the development firm.