With Construction Well Underway, Mack-Cali Asks to Move The Charlotte’s Affordable Housing Off-Site

The Charlotte 25 Columbus Jersey City Affordable Housing
The Charlotte is currently under construction at 25 Columbus Drive in Downtown Jersey City. Photo by Chris Fry/Jersey Digs.

A new piece of Jersey City’s emerging skyline at the corner of Columbus Drive and Warren Street could see some deviations from what was approved, as the developer behind the project is asking for zoning changes that would allow them to relocate the project’s required affordable units elsewhere.

Mack-Cali has been building a 57-story tower called The Charlotte for months, work that currently involves façade installation. Designed by Elkus Manfredi, the ground floor of the project will include 17,000-square feet of retail space plus a 36,000-square foot public elementary school to be deeded to the city for $1.

The remainder of The Charlotte will feature 750 rental apartments and 5% of them are slated to be affordable housing per regulations that govern the parcel. But Mack-Cali has submitted a request to amend Jersey City’s Block 13102 Redevelopment Plan that would modify those requirements and allow them to provide the affordable units “within one mile” of the project.

The changes would increase the number of affordable units provided by Mack-Cali from 37 to 40, breaking down as eight studios, 22 one-bedroom spaces, and 10 two-bedroom units. The modifications would also lengthen the affordability controls to last 30 years from the previously required 20.

The alterations dictate that the off-site affordable units would need to be provided “within Ward E and east of Marin Boulevard,” although a specific location is not disclosed. The wording of the amendments leaves open the possibility that Mack-Cali could convert existing units at other residential developments they own into the required affordable housing.

In terms of future construction that could include the affordable units if the changes are allowed, Mack-Cali’s most prominent undeveloped property is their approved 68-story tower called Harborside 8. The company also owns a block-long parcel at 107 Morgan Street and is a partner with Ironstate Development on the Downtown Urby project, which has two planned but unbuilt towers.

Affordable housing possibly being moved from The Charlotte comes just about a month after Jersey City passed an inclusionary zoning ordinance. Designed to create affordable units in new developments, some officials have criticized the legislation as loophole-laden and too friendly towards developers.

The changes Mack-Cali is seeking for the affordable housing component of The Charlotte will be discussed during the planning board’s November 24 session, where formal action could be taken. The virtual meeting, being held on Zoom due to COVID-19 restrictions, begins at 5:30 p.m. and can be joined at this link or by using the ID 858 2241 1566.



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