Redevelopment Plan Allowing 800-Unit Tower Approved in Downtown Jersey City

Laurel Saddlewood Tower Jersey City Rendering
Image courtesy of Beyer Blinder Belle.

The skyline along the Hudson River could see additional development next year that includes space for a new public school, as a major step has been taken toward revitalizing a block of prefabricated homes that have stood since the 1970s.

Earlier this year, Jersey Digs was the first news outlet to report on a proposal from Lennar Multifamily Communities (LMC) for a 1.81-acre parcel between First and Second streets straddling Marin Boulevard and Grove Street. Dubbed Laurel & Saddlewood after two dead-end roads on the block, proprietors approached LMC about purchasing their prefab homes.

Laurel Saddlewood Redevelopment Jersey City
Image via Google Maps.

LMC agreed to deals buying all the properties at market-rate prices except for one and pitched plans for a tiered development that tops out at 50 stories. Designed by New York-based Beyer Blinder Belle, the structure would gradually step down as it heads toward Grove Street and Manila Avenue, bottoming out to three stories at the lowest point.

Laurel And Saddlewood Tower Downtown Jersey City 1
Image courtesy of Beyer Blinder Belle.

The City Council voted 7-1 during their November 12 meeting to approve the Laurel-Saddlewood Redevelopment Plan, which sets terms on how the land can be developed. The development can contain up to 810 rental apartments and will need to include 5% workforce housing, or roughly 41 units.

Laurel Saddlewood Jersey City Site Plan
Building heights. Image via the redevelopment plan/Jersey City.

LMC’s proposal includes 14,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor facing Marin Boulevard and as part of the deal, a 50,000-square-foot public school would need to be built along First Street. The school in the plan, which would be deeded to the city upon completion, would house Pre-K to 5th grades and should serve around 300 to 350 students.

The developer will be responsible for the construction of the new school under the deal, which is valued at $2.5 million. The redevelopment plan also calls for the revitalization of the existing Philippine Plaza, which would be almost quadrupled in size to about 11,400 square feet. Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop lauded the council’s approval of the plan in a statement.

“Just days after announcing the public-private partnership for the creation of the new innovative Liberty Science High School, we’re already moving forward on another brand-new school to alleviate the school system’s overcrowding and long waitlists, and further our efforts to provide top-quality educational opportunities for our youth,” Fulop said. “It’s important for us to ensure our community benefits from these projects, and this is the latest example of how we’re becoming a national model for smart growth.”

The development is set to include an on-site stormwater capture improvement and the tiered slope of the project allows many opportunities for terraces or green roofs. LMC still needs approvals from the city’s planning board before breaking ground on the project, a move Vice President Charles Epstein had hoped would take place by September 2021.

A potential snag could emerge in a lawsuit filed earlier this year by Shuster Development, who own one of the townhomes at the property. The suit is looking to throw out a council resolution from earlier this year declaring the property a Condemnation Redevelopment Area, arguing that the move was based on a “flawed” analysis.

A trial on the matter is scheduled for November 20, but legal counsel for Jersey City has filed a request to adjourn those proceedings. Barring a settlement agreement, the case is likely to head before a judge when the calendar flips to the new year.



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  1. The new development certainly looks to be a more productive use of the land, and overall a net benefit to Jersey City. I do find the “condemnation area” designation a bit dubious — is this equivalent to an eminent domain situation? It sounds awfully close to the city seizing private property to hand over to a private developer.

  2. Every home owner besides one (who is a developer) had agreed to the sale. Seems like it was a agreement between parties involved and the city got so much out of it… Win/win

  3. Extremely interesting example of a group of homeowners working together to maximize value. The holdout will be the loser. Would love to know how much each homeowner is getting. Would think it must be 2X or 3X market value or more. Would think it’s $2 million plus for each homeowner. This should be a model for other homeowners to work together, cash out, and leave Dodge while the leaving is good, especially around JSQ and 30th Street Union City, among many others.

  4. When homeowners work together to assemble an entire city block, or even say eight contiguous houses ready for sale to a developer, each home becomes worth 2X, 3X or much more to a developer. It amazes me how people’s nostalgia for their crappy JC two-family houses stands in the way of acting economically rationally. I would be happy to cash out and watch my two-family wooden fire-trap be demolished and replaced with a high-rise of reinforced concrete, glass and steel — wood frame does not hold a candle to that. I might even buy one of the apartments. Homeowners working together multiplies value. This group of homeowners is exceptional in their rationality. Someone should do a movie on this whole process and project. In Manhattan, developers spend DECADES secretly buying one property after another to assemble a larger site for development. Any square block in Hudson County delivered ready for sale is worth pure gold.

  5. Great to see for the city, and I’m so glad the homeowners were able to benefit like others have said. We need to find a way for residents to benefit instead of being displaced, hopefully this type of arrangement becomes more common across the board. I agree with Mayor Fulop that this is a model of smart growth.

    The reality is that due to climate change vast swaths of the housing stock in JC (and elsewhere) will need to be fully refurbished or replaced at some point, whether it be through some kind of federal energy efficiency investment, etc. Apart from that, many buildings like these were simply cheap to begin with and not high-enough quality to last, approaching the end of their structural integrity. We also simply need more units in general. This proposal addresses all of those issues/trends and seems to be a win for everyone, including the homeowners which is awesome. I hope to see more of this, especially at this scale!

  6. Houses were sold at market rate value, not for 2X, 3X times what they were worth. Article says the proprietors of the prefab homes approached the developer(LMC) about purchasing the properties. Highly unlikely a developer would pay 3X the homes value, and include a public park and public school and storm water improvement in the deal without compensation.

    Also the cost of the school would seem to be way more than $2.5 million.


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