Jersey City’s Controversial Newport Pier Park Gains Approval

Newport Pier Park Current Lefrak Jersey City
The current state of the future Newport Pier Park, Jersey City. Photo by Chris Fry/Jersey Digs.

A waterfront proposal from one of Jersey City’s most prolific developers has weathered months of debate to advance following some modifications to the plan and a deed restriction on a portion of the property.

Jersey City’s planning board unanimously approved an application from LeFrak during their March 9 meeting. The scheme will partially revitalize a 3.47-acre vacant pier known as 15 Park Lane South that juts out along the Hudson River and is located directly east of the company’s Ellipse development.

Jersey Digs broke the news last March about a potential park coming to the pier and the formal plans were revealed three months later. The proposal quickly sparked debate as a sizeable interior section of the envisioned park was slated to be accessible only to residents of LeFrak’s nearby residential buildings and closed off to the general public.

Newport Pier Park Previous Plan Lefrak Jersey City
LeFrak’s previous plan for Newport Pier Park. Plan by Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects.

Jersey City’s planning board promptly rejected LeFrak’s plans over the issue and the company submitted a new proposal earlier this year. The revised version left the formerly private portion of the park as unimproved and that portion of the property is slated to remain vacant “until a later date,” according to submitted documents.

Newport Pier Park New Plan Lefrak Jersey City
LeFrak’s new plan for Newport Pier Park. Plan by Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects.

While those hoping for maximum greenery might consider that a letdown, the upcoming park will nonetheless boast several new public amenities. Drawn up by New York-based Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects with engineering work from Jersey City-based Dresdner Robin, the future Newport Pier Park will construct a new walkway around most of the pier’s perimeter and include a 14,000-square-foot “art plaza” in its northeast portion set to feature a sculpture surrounded by seating.

A 2,000-square-foot dog run will be built along the western portion of the land near an existing access road for the Ellipse building. An overlook featuring a wood deck, tree pits, movable tables and chairs, and a “bar” complete with stools will be constructed just south and new greenery will be planted all around the pier.

Newport Pier Park Current Aerial Lefrak Jersey City
Aerial view. Photo courtesy LeFrak via the application.

The new portions of the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway will have lighted benches, two telescopes, and chaise lounges for locals to take in the view. LeFrak has not indicated when construction could begin at the land.

The planning board placed a deed restriction on the vacant portion of the property as a condition of approval when signing off on the revised plans. It dictates that if LeFrak wishes to develop the vacant portion of the pier into open space as a principal use in the future, the area will need to be open to the public.

Newport Pier Park Lefrak 2001 Approval Map Jersey City
The 2001 approved plan for the waterfront cultural center which was never built. Rendering via Jersey City planning report.

While more greenery could be added to the pier, it is worth noting that a variety of uses, including residential, are allowed at the property under Jersey City’s Newport Redevelopment Plan. Approvals dating to 2001 that were recently released via a report from the city’s planning department show a 75,000-square-foot “waterfront cultural center” was once envisioned for the property, a plan that never materialized.

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