The long road to building a modern court complex along one of Jersey City’s major thoroughfares made some substantial progress last week, as three resolutions were approved by a county board related to the construction of the project.
One of the largest public developments in the state, the Frank J. Guarini Justice Complex, has been in the works for several years. The $345 million scheme will replace Hudson County’s outdated Administration Building at 595 Newark Street with a new structure across the street set to feature 24 courtrooms, jury assembly spaces, various offices, and the Sheriff’s Department.
Several parcels set for the eventual complex were cleared in late 2018 and New York City-based Rafael Viñoly Architects has drawn up a master plan for construction of the new facility. The five-story complex, which will be certified LEED Silver, will include a 75-seat public food court, a self-help law library, a children’s play area, training spaces, and a 459-space parking garage built into the design.
As part of the project, the county will eliminate nearby Cook Street and realign several local roads to allow Central Avenue to extend and connect with Newark Avenue. Conceptual renderings of the new court complex show the facility’s entrance along the Central Avenue extension, while the garage portion is to be built near the property’s intersection with Route 139.
The Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders recently took a major step towards reconfiguring the roadways, as they passed a resolution at their February 13 meeting awarding a $2.6 million contract to Garfield-based Zuccaro Incorporated. The company’s work will build an extension to Central Avenue and then widen Oakland Avenue per plans that are already in place.
A second resolution passed by the board authorizes the county to seek bids for the construction of the Frank J. Guarini Justice Complex. The Hudson County Improvement Authority will act as redeveloper on the project, which they aim to have completed by 2023.
A third resolution passed by the board deals with the potential creation of nearby open space. Late last year, an agreement was announced between Jersey City and Hudson County to facilitate construction of a three-acre public park at the site of the current Administration Building.
Under the Memorandum of Understanding that was approved by the board, the county will turn over control of 595 Newark Avenue to Jersey City, who will then pay for the demolition and removal of the existing structure and be responsible for building the park. It’s worth noting that the memorandum is non-binding, but both county and city officials have pledged their commitment to green space at the parcel.
Regardless of the resolution’s wording, the park is a long-term proposition. Construction of that portion won’t be able to commence until the new judicial facility is completed, so Jersey City can likely look forward to starting the process of demolishing the Administration Building and creating the park sometime in 2023.
For fans of historic architecture who might be concerned about all this redevelopment, the Brennan Courthouse is staying put and will continue to be used for court business.
Construction of the new court complex will undoubtedly change the landscape along this busy stretch of Newark Avenue, which has drawn new eateries including Café Peanut, Ling Long Xuan, and Freetown Road over the last year. An exact timeline for the development’s groundbreaking should emerge in April, when the county hopes to select a bid for construction of the complex.
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