A rebirth in Journal Square has been an elusive goal in Jersey City over the years, but a new building boom is demonstrating that the neighborhood’s oft-promised revitalization is finally happening. Now, long time property owners behind a new development are aiming to bring some vibrancy and culture to the area, hoping to have shovels in the ground on their own project by 2019.
Approved late last month, 808 Pavonia Avenue is partially the byproduct of zoning changes that were enacted last year. The City Council amended the Journal Square 2060 Redevelopment Plan to create the Zone 10 Arts District, which aims to facilitate amenities in an alleyway known as Concourse West. The alley currently consists of parking garages and lots behind the historic Loew’s Theater.
The Harwood family, who have had an ownership stake in the over two-acre property since the 1920s, initially revealed plans and a website in March outlining their vision for the land. Slightly modified since then, the approved project now includes five LEED-certified buildings highlighted by two residential towers of 51 and 57 stories.
But while the development will undoubtedly reshape the neighborhood’s skyline, it’s the streetscape changes that might be the most impactful.
“We think this project begins to build a cultural infrastructure in Journal Square,” says Bob Antonicello of GRID Real Estate. He adds the company, who acted as redevelopment advisors, put together the local team behind the oddly-shaped project, which he is proud to say got large community support during the planning and approval process.
In addition to the 1,189 rental units and 970 parking spaces in the project’s two towers, 808 Pavonia will build a 5,000-square foot stand-alone museum and art gallery. The development, designed by New York-based Studio V Design + Planning, also features lots of public open space and amenities including a pedestrian pathway through the alley. Private amenities included in the project include pools and a skyline cabana area.
Besides the towers and art gallery, a 10,000-square foot, 126-seat theater is called for in the plans and will feature a publicly-accessible garden and lawn. Antonicello says Harwood Properties has started conversations with Art House about occupying the space, and they hope to bring the production house back to Journal Square. 7,300-square feet of ground floor retail space in the fifth building, which will be divided up among multiple storefronts, rounds out the development.
Despite the approvals, a project of this magnitude will admittedly take a while to complete. Antonicello says Harwood is currently lining up a joint venture partner for the development, which will likely take them through Winter 2018.
However, Antonicello was optimistic that a groundbreaking could be held within 24 months, likely sometime during 2019. In spite of how far down the pipeline 808 Pavonia may seem, Antonicello says the project shows how far the city has come.
“You never would have seen this type of diversity in a project 15 years ago,” says Antonicello. “It has been happening Downtown over last 10 years, and now we’re looking forward to bringing the excitement to Journal Square.”