Months of delays coupled with a global pandemic have combined to create uncertainty about a planned overhaul at one of Jersey City’s most prominent destinations, but officials say those setbacks will yield to construction when the weather warms up next year.
Last year, we detailed plans to build a proper pedestrian plaza along two blocks of Newark Avenue. The car-free stretch was first shut down to vehicular traffic back in 2015 and the green paint adoring the road was later expanded one block west to Jersey Avenue in 2018.
Red Bank-based Maser Consulting was brought in shortly thereafter to design a scheme that will raise the two blocks of roadway to match the level of the sidewalk and replace the blacktop on the road with granite paver plaza surfacing. The permanent plaza was initially slated to break ground last winter, but a spokesperson for Mayor Steve Fulop says a groundbreaking is now imminent next spring.
Calling the pedestrian plaza an “economic and cultural boon,” Press Secretary Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione says the city’s latest investment in the plaza will improve aesthetics and create additional room for foot traffic and restaurant seating. Removing the curb will also allow for more seamless stroller and wheelchair accessibility.
“The city worked closely with local residents and business owners throughout the design process to incorporate their needs and recommendations for the over $6 million facelift,” Wallace-Scalcione added.
Beside the granite pavers, other components of the overhaul include trench drains, sidewalk resurfacing, new lighting, street trees with green infrastructure including rain gardens, illuminated benches, moveable furniture, and decorative planters. A permanent stage for community events will also be constructed as part of the work.
The increase in outdoor seating is welcome news for restaurants along Newark Avenue’s pedestrian plaza, who had a tough go of it earlier this year even before COVID-19. Neighborhood staples like LITM, Pasta e Vino, Sawadee, and Downtown Hardware all closed in rapid succession, starting 2020 off on a dour note.
South House also fell victim to the year’s conditions, but the retail scene did improve somewhat with new arrivals like Bang Cookies, Milk and Cream Cereal Bar, Grace O’Malley’s, and the recently-opened Tamborim Bar & Grill stepping in to fill the void.