Redevelopment Agreement Reveals New Information About Proposed $60M Journal Square Tower

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Site of proposed development: 626-632 Newark Avenue, Jersey City. Photo via Google Maps/Street View.

A proposal to construct a new tower in Journal Square is now the subject of a redevelopment agreement between 626-630 Newark Avenue, LLC and the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency (JCRA), revealing new information about the 27-story high-rise that could rise above the neighborhood.

In the winter of 2018, Jersey Digs first reported about the plans by the Great Neck, Long Island-based Namdar Group to construct the new development at the site of two buildings at 626-628 and 630-632 Newark Avenue near the Five Corners. In the time since, the proposal has consisted of a fluctuating amount of residential space, ranging from 450 units when the project was first heard by the JCRA’s Board of Commissioners to 658 units when the Namdar Group’s 626 Newark, LLC affiliate first sought approvals from the Jersey City Planning Board.

Now, through a public records request, Jersey Digs has exclusively obtained a copy of the redevelopment agreement, which indicates that the high-rise is now expected to consist of 538 residential units. This number was confirmed in a legal notice that was issued last week.

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Breakdown of the proposed building by C3D Architecture. Plan via redevelopment agreement.

330 of the units are expected to be studios, most of which would include alcoves. Under the proposal, 98 would contain one bedroom, 27 would include one bedroom and a den, 72 would feature two bedrooms, and 11 would be three-bedroom units, according to the agreement.

The agreement and last week’s legal notice also show that the overall development is slated to include much more than residential space. There are plans for 7,223 square feet of ground-floor retail space, a rooftop amenity space for residents, and 28,186 square feet worth of office space as well. The office space is expected to take up two floors of the building.

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Ground floor detail by C3D Architecture. Plan via redevelopment agreement.

As part of the agreement, the developer is expected to give $250,000 in four installments to the Journal Square Arts Initiative. The initiative is described in the agreement as a way for “civic-minded persons” to join the City of Jersey City and the JCRA in supporting “an array of artistic and educational endeavors” like “the visual arts, theater, museums, and other cultural and educational programs enriching and benefiting the citizens of Jersey City and the Journal Square 2060 Redevelopment Plan Area.”

A unique aspect of this development is that it would incorporate a portion of a street that does not yet exist. The Central Avenue Connector, which will be the extension of Central Avenue that will run between Newark and Hoboken Avenue, is expected to pass alongside the new building. The developer “shall be responsible for the costs associated with the improvement of the extension of Central Avenue,” according to the legal notice.

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Central Avenue extension detail by C3D Architecture. Plan via redevelopment agreement.

The proposed building was designed by C3D Architecture of Manhattan. The cost of construction is estimated at just shy of $60 million. Under the agreement, work on the premises must begin before 2025.

The JCRA’s Board of Commissioners approved a resolution authorizing this agreement during a recent meeting. Now, the current version of the project is nearing its final major step of the approvals process. 626 Newark, LLC’s application to the Jersey City Planning Board for Preliminary and Final Site Plan approval is expected to be heard during a meeting on Tuesday, August 13, at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.

This development is one of several that LLCs affiliated with the Namdar Group have proposed in this neighborhood over the last few years. In addition to the firm’s 15-story tower that is under construction at 87 Newkirk Street, three high-rises are planned for Van Reipen Avenue and Cottage Street as part of the Homestead Walkway project. The three buildings are slated to include a total of over 800 units, along with a banquet hall, pedestrian plaza, synagogue, preschool, office space, and retail space.

Note to readers: The dates that applications are scheduled to be heard by the Jersey City Planning Board and other commissions are subject to change.

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38 COMMENTS

  1. 330 studios?? That’s laughable…obviously geared toward the 20 somethings looking to live a box and another greedy developer looking to squeeze every penny out of this project.

    I spoke to Val, he said “AMAZING! I’m ripping through my shorts from excitement!! Only 538 units? Why not 1,038??? BUILD BUILD BUILD! MORE MORE MORE!!”

    • How did I expect my name to be echoed lol. Since it’s walking to path, studios make sense. Commuters haven. This is the center of our city. The center of our county… And yeah, the building of a street to curb traffic is the best part…

    • Yes, 330 studios, but did you see each one comes replete with its own special ALCOVE. One might be able to jam half a Murphy bed into that space. At the very least after a night of heavy drinking on Newark Ave a Bro could be strapped into the wall and sleep standing up. They’re making Journal Square great again!

    • Really don’t appreciate the ageism against 20-somethings in your comment. Our apologies that we can’t afford anything more than that thanks to your generation (presuming you’re a Baby Boomer or even Gen-Xer) and that we value fun life experiences (e.g. going out at night) instead of repressing ourselves.

      Also agree with Val that this is perfect for this area. Do you understand the concept of smart growth and transit villages, or have you been asleep during the urban planning lessons learned the past few decades? This is not the spot for low-density development, this is the center of Jersey City with strong mass transit connections to the most important city in the world. High-density developments like this are very much appropriate for the area, and the housing units are sorely needed throughout the region. People should move to the suburbs/rural areas if you’re opposed to it.

      • A high rise this big isn’t necessary. Make it 7 stories. We are overpopulated. We don’t need to make it worse, we need to slow it down. but the greed is too much.

        I’m barely out of my 20’s and I also can’t really afford to live here. You can blame the previous generation all you want, the fact is, it’s the greedy developers/politicians. In terms of the politicians, every age group plays a part. Personally I can’t stand Fulop for the strong arming tactics he uses/allows when it comes to development, as well as his practical racism by his lack of acknowledgement of what happens in Greenville. Also, no, i don’t value “going out at night” as a fun life experience. I prefer driving down the shore and hanging on the boardwalk.

        People shouldn’t “move to the suburbs/rural areas” if they’re opposed to it. People have the right to be opposed to it, especially people born and raised here (such as myself) . Your mentality of your post is: “it’s YOUR fault, and if YOU don’t like it, leave!” . You’re giving our generation a bad look man.

        • I appreciate your respectful reply. When I mentioned going out at night I didn’t mean to imply that’s the only way to have fun, it was just in response to the disparaging comment above about “bros” (definitely don’t consider myself one) drinking on Newark Ave. My comment about older generations was again in response to the first rude comment about 20-somethings “looking to live in a box”, as if we wouldn’t prefer more spacious if the economy hadn’t been rigged against us by preceding generations (though that’s a whole other discussion). It was probably in poor taste on my part but I felt I had to reply to that mean-spirited assertion.

          As a Millennial, environmental sustainability is always top of mind since we’re the ones that have to live on this planet the next few decades. Based on that, it’s inarguable that urban sprawl is horrible for the environment in SO many ways (deforestation, habitat destruction, promoting cars, creating drainage issues from lack of vegetation/undeveloped land, etc.) At the same time, due to a variety of factors cities are growing fast and limiting new housing units won’t help anyone. The alternative to NOT building thousands of units concentrated units around mass transit (e.g. this location) is to push urban sprawl further outward, which is a lose-lose for us all. At a certain point, the larger good takes priority (to me) over the concerns of NIMBY residents.

          As for affordability & greedy developers, the bottom line is supply and demand has a real effect on prices and there simply aren’t enough units to keep up with demand (not to mention the aging of existing housing stock creates problems of its own). NOT building thousands of new units is not going to somehow LOWER housing prices, but in fact the opposite since there is less to go around amid higher demand. Again, this is an area adjacent to the largest city/metro in the US and arguably the most important city in the world. At a certain point it may sound harsh, but yes if you do not want to live in a dense population center connected by heavy rail to Manhattan, then yes you should move somewhere else.

          Sorry for the novel, and I agree with you about Fulop neglecting Greenville. However I welcome his aggressive approach to development because NIMBYism should not be allowed to prevent progress in this location specifically (for reasons Val also mentions below).

          • Many were not permanent residents. They were guys who came back from WW1, stayed for the Roaring 20s, drifted away when the Great Depression hit. Same for all the XL Irish families. When you turned 18 you got the boot.

      • More residential units help make housing more affordable for everyone. Even if someone can’t afford a studio in this building, the increased supply will put downward pressure on prices of all other rentals. Also, why do you care if they’re studios? You don’t have to live in them. The increased taxes will help pay for parks and services. The new Central Ave connection will help drivers and pedestrians.

  2. Th your comments were very disrespectful. That is one. 2 everybody dont want to live in a studio and its because of you yuppies and trust fund babies that they keep bldg unaffordable apts for us working people. I should not and will not live in the suburbs why dont you? Im a city girl period. They are allowing the same thing to happen to jc that has happened in bk. Sad.

    • @Denise he’s happy as long as him and his bros have enough space to do keg stands before hitting NYC for long night of fist pumping. When I was in my 20s I didn’t live in studios. I rented in NYC with my friends…we would get a 1 bdm and convert it into 2…we shared apartments to make it affordable.

      Unfortunately this is the entitled millennial generation that expect everything geared toward them and not the community.

      • Ahh there it is! You like to pat yourself on the back for what you did when you were our age, with your head in the sand about the fact that housing prices are 40% higher (adjusted for inflation) than they were for you, meanwhile wages have actually DECLINED adjusted for inflation even while worker productivity has gone through the roof. Wow you converted a 1-bed to a 2-bed, hooray for you!!! I lived with my parents for years after I graduated college because I couldn’t afford even a security deposit much less a down payment, then lived with roommates in a crappy old apartment for a few more years and work my butt off to get by/still have to pick up the slack of my older coworkers who don’t understand technology, etc. But yes you’re right, I’m the entitled one! It’s unfortunate because people like you create resentment toward your entire generation, when there are actually plenty of older people who understand and empathize with today’s young people rather than sitting on their high horse lecturing us about why we don’t act more like them.

        Thanks for making it easy to not take anything you say seriously from here on out!

        • I don’t know maybe it sounds like you need a better job? If you can’t afford to split an apartment for 2,500 or 3,000 then you don’t belong in a city. I know it’s hard for you to self reflect so you just blame everything on everyone…this generation that generation…the market…wah was poor me!!

          • Look, you’re the one who started with the personal attacks blaming me for my finances, as if I’m the only American affected by the housing affordability crisis or the reality of today’s economy. That’s fine if it makes you feel better about yourself, and you can go to bed at night thinking you’re so superior to the Millennial generation. But it really is irrelevant to this discussion about why this development is or isn’t appropriate for this area.

          • cities used to be affordable to rent in. heck rent for downtown used to be DIRT cheap in the 70’s-90’s. but that environment in downtown then would totally freak out the younger generation (and older generation) these days.

            personally, I prefer the character of the old downtown/JSQ. many find in deplorable, I find it fascinating.

    • What did I say that was disrespectful? Actually YOUR comment about me being a trust fund baby/yuppie (I live paycheck to paycheck and work very hard thank you). If you don’t understand the importance of new housing construction in the context of both the environmental crisis & the national housing affordability crisis that we are facing, then you should educate yourself about the scale of those crises because this type of development is exactly what we need to be doing.

      What do you propose, single-family homes or 2-story townhouses in this location? As if that would somehow be more affordable?

  3. Overpopulated? Have you seen this area? It’s like a ghost town across from the court houses… 7 storys? Dude this is our version of times Square and center of our county. They are building 60+ stories, 27 story is perfectly fine and appropriate for this area. This ain’t no Greenville, this is Journal Square!

    • ghost town? you know what the definition of a ghost town is, right? this is NOT our version of Times Square.We do not need costumed characters, overcrowded streets with tourists, over priced rip off chain stores.

      “This ain’t no Greenville, this is Journal Square! ”
      Ok. So that’s just a slap in the face to Greenville, Mayor Fulop would be proud of you. also, would love to see you walk around Ocean proclaiming your feelings of Greenville. We’ll see how that works out.

      • @X. I don’t live in Greenville. I have nothing against Greenville. And I’m not downgrading Greenville, however different neighborhoods are designed to be different for a reason. Journal square historically was the center. Old timers around and even the Councilman, Richard as called it “Jersey City’s times Square” as it used to be. That side by the court house is a ghost 👻 town. I don’t agree much with our Mayor, and his disregard of Journal square, his favoritism for downtown and heights vs. All other neighborhoods and the ego fights over 1 journal square, which stands as a empty lott for empty plastic brandy bottles from the homeless laying there… Yeah I envision better for our city and our center… Journal Square is finally getting the recognition it deserves!

  4. I agree with TH in that if you don’t go out 5 nights a week life is passing you by. However lest I be accused of nerdism it’s perfectly ok if you want to stay at home a read a book. Building height or density isn’t an issue for me but sensible and aesthetic development is. I’m not sure what TH means by “strong mass transit connections” as that, or a lack thereof, seems to be a core issue on this site. Even with the federally mandated PTC in place there are still constant delays on PATH. Even with the new future upgrades I really don’t see commuting getting much better. Ditto for the bridges and tunnels. Building vertically without without being able to move horizontally is retarded.

    While there are some unique, distinctive buildings most fall into the Bayonne box or “soulless” high rise category. I also see a lack of great public spaces. The pedestrian mall on Newark must be some kind of joke.
    Ban some cars, paint the asphalt green, and voila, you have freshly new minted piece of space that is supposed to have an affinity with what? The San Marco in Venice? Even though the “new” Jersey City is constantly compared to NY there is nothing like the great new parks such as the Highline in Chelsea or Brooklyn Bridge Park in DUMBO. These are the spaces make a city livable and great. I don’t see any of this happening any time soon.

    • I’m sorry are you joking? This site is less than 10 min walk from the Journal Square Transportation Hub which includes not only a less than 20-minute train ride into Manhattan but also bus services. If you’re talking about the performance of those transit options that’s a different story, but even then I take the PATH every day from Grove St. and people really exaggerate the issues. Yes it is crowded at the peak of rush hour and at times delayed, but in my daily experience it performs better than the NY subway system on both counts and is pretty reliable. Regardless if this site doesn’t fit your definition of a place with strong mass transit connections, I’d love to know what does.

      That’s also fine you don’t personally believe the multi-faceted, billion-dollar upgrades to the system will improve anything, but I will trust the people who actually study and plan these things rather than your gut feeling that it won’t. The plans seem pretty detailed and it makes sense that each specific item would improve things.

      I agree that lack of public space is a big issue in JC (the city/county had better stick to the plan of using the current courthouse land for a new JSQ park, which is sorely needed) but expecting a High Line in a city a fraction of the size of NYC is a little unfair (though I would love if, for instance, the 6th Street Embankment would be turned into a similar park which the city has been fighting for in court for years over the objections of greedy landowners). I also don’t think it’s fair to disparage the Newark Ave Pedestrian Plaza, which asphalt or not does provide open public space for the public to congregate and enjoy themselves. And it’s not like JC has a non-existent/horrible park network, either. Definitely room for improvement and big-thinking in that area though, I agree.

  5. I don’t think Val fully grasps the concept of population control and adequate infrastructure. The fact that he compares this area to Times Square, btw an area most NYers hate because of the overpopulation, is comical. Comparing Times Square to JSQ is like comparing liberty state park to Central Park. I stand by my statement that he’s a paid cheerleader for developers (still haven’t seen one development he didn’t like).

    As far as the 20 something crying about how he can’t afford rent, so you think these developments are going to make this area affordable? Trust me this developer couldn’t care less about you or your lifestyle, he just wants to squeeze as many of you into a building as possible to maximize profits. And where are you partying in JSQ? Or are you another NYC transplant who can’t afford NYC so you just want a place to sleep while you spend all your money in NYC? No thanks, that’s not the demographic we are looking for. And i’m not moving to suburbs anytime soon since I own multiple properties in JC. So i’ll be here long after you’ve been priced out.

    • Again, can you please tell me how NO development WILL make anywhere in JC more affordable?? It’s basic logic/math that the city is growing due to the booming NYC economy and the overall trend to re-urbanization after the disaster of suburban sprawl embraced by your generation. Many newer, young residents come from rural areas that have no economic opportunity (myself included) and people are simply trying to make a living without having to commute 2+ hours one way to where the jobs are. I never said the developers care about me (they care about profit) but at least their profit motivation is creating more housing units that are desperately needed.

      Preserving the status quo and opposing new development is simply not a solution to the national housing affordability crisis we are facing, and you need to accept that fact. Your idiotic personal attacks (LOL you think I’m from NYC and spend all my money in NYC) just prove you have nothing of substance to counter my points.

      • Lol so you’re a suburbanite telling city people to move to the suburbs…got it. Wouldn’t mommy and daddy’s basement be more affordable? Stay out of our city!

        I can’t hold your hand through this whole conversation so if you’re not getting it maybe you should go back to planning your next happy hour.

          • I don’t really get what you are arguing…my statement was regarding building studios and not more 1 bdm or 2 bdm apartments that would cater to the overall community and not studios that are geared toward milinnials…

            Somehow you turned that into an argument about no housing. So i’ll engage once you get back on topic.

  6. You: “330 studios?? That’s laughable…obviously geared toward the 20 somethings looking to live a box”
    Me: “There are many reasons why Millennials (and others) can’t afford anything more than a studio; more units is still a good thing in the context of the environmental & affordability crises we face on a national/global level”

    You: “When I was in my 20s I didn’t live in studios. I rented in NYC with my friends…we would get a 1 bdm and convert it into 2…we shared apartments to make it affordable; Millennials are entitled”
    Me: “Good for effing you, we face an entirely different world economically & socially than you did at our age and that’s simply not feasible for today’s young people for X, X & X reasons; We are NOT entitled like you assert but in fact work our butts off and still struggle financially, so cut it out with the stereotypes”

    You: “so you think these developments are going to make this area affordable?”
    Me: “YES for X, X & X reasons; plus we have an environmental crisis which is intertwined with the affordability discussion”

    You: “If you can’t afford to split an apartment for 2,500 or 3,000 then you don’t belong in a city”
    Me: “Actually, many Millennials have no choice but to live in cities because that’s where the jobs are; If you don’t like that we’re moving here, then you can/should leave instead of bashing us and halting forward progression of a growing city”

    Fitting with your self-righteousness, lack of empathy & anti-Millennial attitude, according to you Millennials are not even legitimately part of the community. I guess only Baby Boomers count as “true” community members? Not only are there thousands of Millennials already members of the JC community, but new people (not exclusively Millennials) are also moving here helping to rejuvenate the city that had been in decline for decades due to the disaster of suburbanization. As DF asked above, why do you care whether they are studios or 1-bedrooms? Even according to your own ridiculous logic, more Millennials occupying studios means more 1- and 2-beds available for the community, so you should be celebrating these developments.

    I’ve offered numerous substantive reasons why I believe developments like this are both perfectly appropriate for this area, as well as absolutely necessary for long-term environmental and economic sustainability. You continue to fail to address those points on the substance and instead lob idiotic personal attacks in every one of your responses. It’s hilarious that you’re actually accusing ME of being off topic.

    • well, just because jobs are in the city, does NOT mean you have to live in or around the city. it means you don’t want to intentionally save more living elsewhere where it’s cheaper while also having a long commute.

      there’s various ways to save the environment. one of the best ways would be for a multitude of people to give up eating meat.

      • I completely agree there are many aspects of our lifestyle that need to be drastically reassessed and altered in order for our planet/species to have a chance. An all-of-the-above approach is absolutely needed to secure our future. However urban planning is a HUGE part of the puzzle, especially considering there will be literally hundreds of millions of climate refugees to be absorbed across the globe in the decades ahead. Smart growth/development is critical, and density around transit is non-negotiable for a sustainable future. This is but one tiny example of that.

        Re: not “needing” to live in the city to work there, I would argue that is true only for those who have the means. Commuter rail and buses can cost hundreds of dollars a month which can easily outweigh any cost savings on the housing side depending on how far out you are. And not for nothing, but extreme commutes are linked to high stress and resulting poor health outcomes. People should not have to take on those burdens simply in order to afford housing. There’s no reason to encourage exurban development to satisfy NIMBYs and every reason to encourage development in transit-rich, walkable urban cores such as JSQ.

        • yes, indeed it is a two sided sword…long commutes are linked to high stress and poor health outcomes…as is over population. JC will reach overpopulation in the next 5-10 years.

          • What exactly do you mean by overpopulation? I’m not understanding, as there are tons of vacant or distressed properties that could accommodate tens of thousands of new residents to add to the tax base and local economy. Of course infrastructure needs updates as well to accommodate, but I’m not understanding the connection between more residents and poorer health outcomes. JC is still significantly below its peak population.

    • You lost me at the “disaster of suburbanization.” That was maybe only a disaster for people who died of boredom. Suburbanization was an effect, not a cause, of decline in American cities. People left because of the influx of drugs, civil strife, crime, political corruption, and just wanting more elbow room and fresh air. However the primary cause of decline in Jersey City was the loss of manufacturing jobs. Also not true that JC has been in decline for decades, save for Greenville. Downtown has been gentrified since around 1990. One could even say 1987 with the opening of the Newport Mall, oddly enough a suburban concept. The rest was average working and middle class neighborhoods. But great that new people of all stripes are coming in and contributing to hopefully what will turn out to be positive improvements.

  7. Here is the original video created by the architects and planners retained by the JCRA to help develop the Journal Square plan. These tower, like the one above and further up on Newark Ave, were never part of the plan. The Core, Sip to Pavonia, Kennedy to Summit, were the focus. And should continue to be the focus. Its good to see the fact that Journal Square is the CBD for the city is not lost on some readers.
    https://youtu.be/iBFS4f08EO8

    • This is exactly the type of development I’ve been banging on about since forever. When I proposed tall buildings separated by large green spaces on Palisade Ave in the Heights several months ago someone suggested I was high on drugs. So who is going build and finance this project? Nice fantasy like the Low Line park proposal for the Bergen Arches but can you provide some specifics about how it is to come to fruition?

      (Btw the music in the video sounds very similar to to the soundtrack by Vangelis in the movie Blade Runner)

  8. I can’t see the planning board submission in detail. My question is if Central Avenue is connected to Newark then wouldn’t that make Cook Street unnecessary being that they be extremely close?

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