A long-running saga involving a large parcel of land near the Journal Square PATH station looks like it will finally get a happy ending, as the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency (JCRA) voted last night to approve a settlement agreement that will end years of litigation and move a high-profile project forward.
Vacant since the 2009 demolition of the old Hotel on The Square building, the sprawling One Journal Square property was sold to Kushner Companies and KABR Group in 2015. Two towers were approved shortly after the purchase, including one that was set to rise 79 stories.
A scaled-back version of One Journal Square consisting of two 56-story towers was then greenlit in 2017, but the development had a rocky go of it the following year. WeWork pulled out of a deal to open offices in the project and controversies surrounding Kushner’s solicitation of Chinese investment under the EB-5 visa program also drew criticism.
The JCRA accused Kushner in 2018 of violating a redevelopment agreement and amid the drama, Kushner filed a lawsuit that alleged officials were engaging in “anti-Trump bias” by ignoring their tax abatement request due to CEO Jared Kushner’s role as a senior advisor to President Donald Trump.
The initial case was dismissed last summer, but Kushner re-filed an amended version of the lawsuit just months later. The two sides finally put the bad blood aside over the weekend, as the Associated Press broke the news about a settlement between the parties.
Unanimously approved by the JCRA during their October 20 meeting, the settlement will scale the One Journal Square project back even further than the last version. The development now includes two 64-story structures set to rise 710 feet each totaling 1,700 apartments. Each tower will boast 52 stories of residential units over a 12-story base featuring 10 floors of indoor parking, ground floor retail space, amenities, and additional residential uses.
The WeWork concept and office space has been completely removed from the project, which will see a “re-envisioned” façade. The settlement stipulates that Kushner will need to submit a site plan to the city by January and go before the planning board to gain approval for the proposed amendments.
No affordable housing units are included in the development, but Kushner will not receive the tax abatement they were once seeking under the settlement. The company will additionally be making a $2.5 million investment in local arts initiatives.
“Let’s be clear; the citizens of Jersey City are the winners here,” said Eugene T. Paolino, counsel to Kushner Companies, in a statement. “Kushner Companies is eager and ready to move forward shoulder to shoulder with Mayor Fulop and the people of the great City of Jersey City.”
A spokesperson for Mayor Steve Fulop’s office noted that Jersey City has not granted a developer tax abatement in over four years. Fulop said in a statement that construction on One Journal Square is expected to finally begin next year, putting an end to a decade-long blight on the neighborhood.
“This has always been about what is best for our taxpayers and Jersey City,” Fulop said in a statement announcing the agreement. “Fortunately, after many years and many prior developers who left this property to stagnate, the city’s great team and Kushner Companies have been able to set aside their differences and collaborate to reach common ground.”