Jersey City Rejects LeFrak’s Plan for Mostly Private Waterfront Park

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Lefrak Plans Newport Pier Park On Jersey City Waterfront
Plans to convert a currently vacant pier directly east of Ellipse into a largely-private park were voted down. Photo by Chris Fry/Jersey Digs.

A scheme that would have added greenery to a vacant pier in Newport was derailed earlier this week after members of the public and local officials voiced concerns about a large portion of the park being set side for tenants at private properties.

Plans for Newport Pier Park, located at 15 Park Lane South just east of LeFrak’s Ellipse development, have been quietly advancing behind the scenes for some time. We broke the news on the project back in March and were the first news outlet to reveal specifics about what was coming to the 3.47 acre parcel earlier this month.

Newport Private Pier Park Jersey City Voted Down
Site plan of the proposed park. The private portion, highlighted in red, would have been reserved for Newport residents. The Jersey City planning board voted unanimously to reject the plan. Site plan by Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects.

Designed by New York-based Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects with engineering work from Jersey City-based Dresdner Robin, the public portion of the park called for a 2,000 square foot dog run and an overlook featuring a wood deck, movable tables and chairs, and a “bar” complete with stools.

The plans would have added new sections to the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway along the perimeter of the pier complete with chaise lounges and a 14,000 square foot “art plaza” that would have been open to the public. But LeFrak had proposed that a large portion of the property’s center be private for their tenants and accessed via a metal wall on the north side of the space.

That component proved to be the plan’s downfall, as Jersey City’s planning board voted unanimously to reject LeFrak’s application for Newport Pier Park during their June 23 virtual meeting. Many residents who spoke during the proceedings objected to a large section of the park being off-limits to most Jersey City residents, and several board members echoed those concerns.

The planning board ended up voting 9-0 to reject the application, which is a rarity in it of itself. LeFrak’s plan was the first denial issued by the board during this calendar year, a span that includes nine meetings where at least four different applications were heard.

It’s unclear what the future holds for the pier but expanding access for the public might be key to getting any park plan approved. Under regulations established in 1988 by New Jersey’s Coastal Zone Management, properties that are developed along the Hudson River spanning from the George Washington Bridge to the Bayonne Bridge are required to construct a 30-foot wide pathway at the water’s edge.

The Hudson River Waterfront Conservancy enforces the state’s regulations, which mandates the pathway include unobstructed public access 24 hours a day. The southern portion of the Newport Pier Park lacked a public walkway per the submitted plans.

LeFrak has not responded to our request for comment as to what the property’s future holds and there’s no word on whether a new plan could be submitted that addresses concerns about the private portion of the park.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. Hurray!!

    This private park on the waterfront was the most awful proposal ever before the city. Now let’s hope the community, LeFrak, and Jersey City work together for a new public park at this location.

    Simply allow LeFrak more density on one of his other development sites in exchange for this area being deeded over for public use once the park is constructed.

  2. Good. Either submit a decent plan or leave it vacant. The strip of sidewalk they wanted to add for the public was hardly something to fight for, in this case. Generally I’m against rejecting proposals for parks, but this was a bit too on the nose.

  3. Yeah… Parks are not private property. Want outdoor seating outside of your building, fine. But a park only for residents that’s just a no …

  4. If it was left vacant maybe and probably the waterfront residents and residents of the rest of Jersey City will start working the land so to speak.
    Jersey City residents have done this on a smaller scale in empty lots all over the City. Maybe it’s time to see what the people’s

  5. Parks are not private property and neither is Jersey City. So glad Covid will knock out these predatory money-obsessed investors. Every cloud has a silver lining yes?

  6. I grew up in jersey city and i am proud of the decision how dare they want to exclude the local community from having access to a park or any park for that matter just so tenants (whom are NOT actual long time jersey citians to have access when others do not would have been a slap to our community i am sooo glad and happy they denied that from taking place THANK U ALL WHO MADE THAT DECISION GOD BLESS

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