Documents from the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency (JCRA) show that RPM Development, LLC, of Montclair, Essex County, was conditionally designated as the redeveloper of the Whitlock Cordage complex, located at 160 Lafayette Street in Jersey City’s Ward F, by all present members of the JCRA Board of Commissioners during their meeting on January 17th. The 120 day period of conditional designation allows “the agency time to attempt to negotiate and enter into a redevelopment agreement with RPM Development”, according to the board’s resolution.
The resolution also states that RPM Development is the property’s contract purchaser, and that the company has filed a proposal application with the JCRA. The proposal calls for transforming the site into a residential apartment complex with 330 residential rental units, taking up 336,549 square feet. 198 of the units will be designated as affordable for residents of low and moderate income, while the rest are slated to be market-rate. Plans also include a 14,740 square foot fitness area and community lounge for residents, plus a 70,572 square foot parking garage.
Whitlock Cordage is a historic complex dating back to the turn of the 20th century that was used first by the Passaic Zinc Works, and then by the Whitlock Cordage Company to develop “the world’s finest and strongest rope” alongside the Morris Canal, according to New Jersey City University. The New York Times reports that over a decade ago, there were plans to demolish all of the buildings on the premises, but local preservationists managed to gather enough support to save the structures. In recent years, the buildings were slated to be converted into the Whitlock Mills affordable housing community,
The property is bordered by Lafayette Park, the Lafayette Pool, and Manning Avenue, which is one of the last cobblestone streets remaining in Jersey City. It is within walking distance of NJ Transit bus service and shops at The Junction and along Communipaw Avenue, and the Liberty State Park Station on the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail.
NJ Parcels records show that in recent years, most of the 6.65-acre property had been owned by the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency (HMFA), but a report from the agency states that the HMFA Board unanimously voted in September, 2016 to accept RPM Development’s bid to acquire it. The other part of the complex is owned by 170 Lafayette Urban Renewal, LLC, which is converting a former industrial building on the premises into the 46-unit Lafayette Lofts development.
RPM is responsible for projects like Bakery Village and Richardson Lofts in Newark and Bostwick Court in Jersey City. The company did not return a request for comment regarding the Whitlock Cordage project.