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.
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.
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.
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.