For decades optimistic prognosticators have predicted Journal Square’s renaissance. Largely, it remained just that, a prediction, with little “on the ground” to back it up. That’s all about to change.
The Heart of the City
In Jersey City’s early days, Journal Square was the heart of the city. It was the business and cultural center, home to two of New Jersey’s most premier theaters, Loew’s Journal Square and The Stanley. The streets surrounding the square were filled with retail shops and restaurants. The waterfront, on the other hand, was an industrial shipping and manufacturing hub.
As with many once prosperous cities, that all changed following WWII as families headed for the suburbs in search of a single family home and white picket fences. Journal Square suffered a decline and has remained blighted since.
The hope has always been that Journal Square will one day rebound. Longtime Jersey City residents have heard the narrative for so long, few continue to believe it.
A Developer Takes the Plunge
After multiple false starts, like in 2009 when the Hotel on the Square was torn down for the “soon-to-break-ground” City Centre Towers development. For still undisclosed reasons, likely the global financial meltdown, the project never took shape and left a gaping hole in the streetscape of the square.
It wasn’t until late-2014 when Kushner Real Estate Group (KRE) brought in equipment to begin on the first Journal Squared tower, that opinions about the area began to shift. No longer were hopefuls merely speculating on a Journal Square rebirth. Now a major developer was putting money down. And a lot of it.
It’s worth mentioning, KRE was the first large-scale developer to build away from the waterfront. Ten years ago, KRE took, what at the time was a huge risk, when they broke ground on Grove Pointe. Would anyone move one more PATH stop in from the waterfront? At the time, that was a big question. We all know how that panned out.
As Journal Squared began to rise, the Journal Square narrative shifted. Perched on a hill and standing 53 stories tall, the building is visible for miles. It’s the first high-rise outside of downtown and acts as a beacon for Journal Square. Whether you’re driving past on the Turnpike, walking west through many areas of downtown, or in Manhattan looking towards Jersey City, the tower is unmistakeable. More than just a new development, the tower is a focal point – a topic of conversation with out-of-town visitors, a point of interest to first-timers exploring Jersey City.
All Eyes on Journal Squared
Will the building attract enough newcomers to inspire other developers to take the plunge? That’s the big question.
Journal Squared is set to begin leasing in early 2017. Although pricing hasn’t been released yet, it’s safe to assume it will be at a slight discount to downtown. It will be marketed and leased exclusively by The Marketing Directors.
All eyes are now on Journal Squared, literally and figuratively. If the building leases quickly, it’s more than likely we’ll see the area’s other mega-projects moving forward. If leasing lags, developers may be deterred.
The immediate area is already prepping for the influx of new residents. PJ Ryan’s Squared opened up last year and a Starbucks is set to open just across the plaza in early 2017. These are just the beginning. As the building fills, more new shops and restaurants will be popping up.
The area’s cultural side is making a comeback too. A new arts district is in the works just across the plaza, along an alleyway that runs beside Loew’s Theater. The city is also in initial discussions to bring an art museum to Journal Square as well.
We at Jersey Digs are optimistic. We’re predicting Journal Squared will lease up quicker than expected. It will act as a catalyst, setting off a wave of new projects as well as bringing an influx of new residents, shops and restaurants. Here’s to hoping we’re right.
What do you think? Will Journal Squared be another false start or the push forward Journal Square has been waiting for? Let us know in the comments.