Newark Avenue Pedestrian Plaza Renovation to Begin Next Spring

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Downtown Jersey City
Downtown Jersey City’s popular pedestrian plaza will soon undergo a redesign. Photo by Chris Fry/Jersey Digs.

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.

Jersey City Pedestrian Plaza Redesign Rendering
Pavers will be installed to raise the former roadway to sidewalk height. Image courtesy of Maser Consulting.

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.

Jersey City Pedestrian Plaza Renovation Rendering
Image courtesy of Maser Consulting.

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.

Jersey City Pedestrian Plaza Redesign Rendering Night
Image courtesy of Maser Consulting.

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.

Jersey City Pedestrian Plaza Redesign Rendering 2
Image courtesy of Maser Consulting.

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.

Jersey City Pedestrian Plaza Redesign Plan
Image courtesy of Maser Consulting.

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.

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16 COMMENTS

  1. A decent ‘upgrade’. There aren’t a lot of changes. I always wonder how these public park / plaza changes are so expensive and take a long time even with minimal changes!

  2. I’m ok with this as I believe a large part of the cost will covered by Federal grant money. I suppose they could have gone with stamped concrete to look like brick/ stone but the granite is not cheap and if installed correctly (unlike that mess of a project at Journal Sq PATH) should look great and last for a very long time.

  3. Where in the article did you get they’re laying brick? Clearly stated granite tiles which for that large of a space gets very expensive. Also clearly laid out other work being done, did you even read the article?

    $6 million is nothing for the amount of revenue the pedestrian plaza has generated for the city. Completely different world compared to the open street with car traffic. And people have complained every step of the way.

    This is fantastic

  4. It’s time to face and talk reality.

    I don’t see two very small stores, one which sells overpriced individual cookies, and another one which sells breakfast cereals, nor do I think vacant stores which are opening up being used as walk-in medical facilities, as an “economic boon” to the area.

    The idea of making that area a ‘restaurant row’ more or less failed, and for various reasons, not just “the pandemic.”

    Bars and restaurants have been closing in the area for quite sometime, for one reason that parking, along with driving, in the area has become extremely difficult. And pedestrian traffic is basically limited to people walking to, and from, the PATH train during rush hours, and special occasions on weekends.

    On top of all that, the reason for JC’s big upswing over the past number of years was solely because of Jersey City becoming a “bedroom community” for New York, during a time of very high activity there in commerce and business. That, too, is disappearing, or has disappeared.

    But let’s not forget the “pandemic,” either. Some politicians have called the way we are living now “the new normal,” meaning that continued, if not expanding, personal and commercial “restrictions” will be in place for a long time (by decree, not legislation!). Not a positive outlook.

    Jersey City should have held on to that $6M for a rainy day, which may be sooner than we think.

  5. |I’m ok with this as I believe a large part of the cost will covered by Federal grant money.
    —why are the feds covering the costs for a pedestrian plaza in jersey city?

    |Clearly stated granite tiles which for that large of a space gets very expensive.
    —sounds like a good reason to use brick instead of granite tiles

  6. @Eric L- There was a comment posted by Safe Streets JC last year on this site that stated Jersey City applied for a Fed grant for the funding. I can’t verify the accuracy of Safe Sts as I don’t work for Jersey City.

  7. Heh Guys,
    Flash back to 2013 -this was a dark and lonely strip where folks hesitated to walk at night… first improvement was much better lighting, next was the pedestrian plaza, and the third is this overdue permanent pedestrian plaza… in the meantime this street gained many new restaurants, bars and residences…with more private sector investment on the way…these improvements are spurring a lot of investment… if you want a good city you have to invest in the public spaces….

  8. totally agree with JF.

    dark and lonely strip in 2013? huh? I’ve been having fun there since the mid 2000’s. not dark and lonely at all.

    now, it’s filled with stuck up out of towners.

    so it goes.

  9. This is great….u want more income and people to fill all those rental.buildings and spend their disposable income….you have to attract them to the area first…wake up people

  10. @JF- Those “overpriced cookies” are selling like hotcakes. Restaurants come and go, boom or bust economy. As a matter of fact Brick Curry Lane ( see above J.Digs posting) just opened at the former Pasta e Vino location on Newark Ave. I don’t have crystal ball but my guess is that with a revamped pedestrian plaza this area will continue to expand and thrive. Build it and they will come and all that. Is the alternative to do nothing? I think not. More of these sorts of urban spaces are needed, not less.

    JC is hardly a *bedroom community* for NYC. Seriously, how many cities can rival NYC nightlife? London, Berlin, Paris, Tokyo? In terms of new construction Journal Sq and the Heights are blowing up, both of which hadn’t seen much new development since before WW2.
    JC has become prime real estate and shifted from working class to upper middle class because Manhattan is no longer affordable except for the very wealthy.

  11. People are always complaining about parking on here. A big part of city living is less reliance on a car. This pedestrian plaza upgrade looks good to me!

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