Lawsuit Looks to Block New Film Studio in Jersey City

Cinelease Studios Jersey City Rendering
Approved Criterion film studio facility near Liberty State Park in Jersey City. Rendering courtesy of Ware Malcomb.

The owners of a self-storage building next to a planned film production facility in Jersey City are looking to void the project’s approvals over both infrastructure issues and technical concerns.

On October 20, Liberty Storage LLC filed a complaint in Hudson County Court against Jersey City’s planning board and 14-16 Burma Road Industrial LLC. The latter company, a subsidiary of Criterion Studios, announced plans last year to build a film production campus on a parcel just outside of Liberty State Park.

14 16 Burma Jersey City Film Studio
Current warehouse at 14-16 Burma Road, Jersey City. Image via Google Maps/Street View.

The initial proposal had intended to adaptively reuse the existing building at the property, but Criterion instead decided to tear the structure down in favor of a new facility. Jersey City’s planning board approved the company’s application last year.

But Liberty Storage says in their lawsuit that their property and Criterion’s Burma Road parcel were initially developed as a single structure, sharing both a common party wall and utility lines. The complaint claims that all utilities delivered to Liberty Storage’s building run through the shared structure, making it the only connection available for water and gas service.

The lawsuit claims that Criterion “presented no testimony concerning the methodology for demolishing its building without causing damage to the party wall” and gave “no information on how it intended to relocate the water, gas, and sprinkler utilities that run through its portion of the building.” Liberty Storage alleges that they will suffer significant damages if the plan goes through as is.

“Without utilities, Liberty, which stores the belongings of hundreds of customers, could not function and protect the goods stored by their customers,” the lawsuit says.

Besides the infrastructure concerns, the lawsuit contends that the planning board lacked jurisdiction to approve the application in the first place. “The proposed use of a film studio is not one of the enumerated permitted uses in the Industrial District of the Liberty Harbor Redevelopment Plan,” the case claims, arguing that the approvals should be considered null and void.

Both Criterion and Liberty Storage have not responded to inquiries Jersey Digs placed seeking comment on the lawsuit. Liberty Storage has their own approved redevelopment scheme that aims to bring a convention center to their property, but no construction activity has taken place since the project was green lit last November.


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