New JSQ Community Association Weighs in on Redevelopment Plan Changes

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Journal Square Jersey City
Journal Square, Jersey City. Photo by Studio B9 Photography.

Journal Square is undoubtedly one of Jersey City’s hotter neighborhoods and doesn’t appear to be slowing down much; the second phase of Journal Squared is underway and a plethora of smaller projects and skyscraper-type towers are approved for the area. But with tremendous growth comes concerns, and one local community group is trying to facilitate a smarter plan for the neighborhood.

Much of the area is covered by the Journal Square 2060 Redevelopment Plan, which was drawn up in 2010 and most recently amended in October 2016. City officials have been talking about making additional changes to the plan based on current market conditions but have yet to take formal action to do so.


That’s where the New JSQ Community Association comes in. The group, formed in 2016, recently met with the city’s Planning Director Annisia Cialone and Deputy Mayor Marcos Vigil to deliver their official position paper on the Journal Square 2060 Redevelopment Plan. The paper was crafted from the results of a community survey that looked to gauge what area residents think should be made a priority moving forward.

Their paper concludes that consensus priorities from the survey’s responders are street safety and circulation upgrades, more open space, and better transit options within Jersey City. However, more participants marked their highest overall priority as affordable housing than any other option, followed by better transit and then open space.


Many high-rise apartment buildings have been approved in Journal Square, but none of them are required to have any affordable housing under the current redevelopment plan regulations. After consulting with urban planners and experts in affordable housing at their meetings, New JSQ says they’ve recommended the city add inclusionary zoning to the redevelopment plan and would like to see them provide incentives to developers who incorporate affordable housing into their plans using PILOTs, or Payment in Lieu of Taxes.

Out of 63 respondents to an affordable housing question, 56% said they’d be open to the units being off-site from new developments but within the Journal Square area if it would yield more overall affordable units than housing on-site. 51% said they’d be open to affordable housing integrated directly into new developments, and 38% said they’d be open to allow developers to build off-site affordable housing outside of Journal Square if it would lead to more affordable units.

The second of New JSQ’s priorities is open space, and they acknowledge that the public image of Journal Square is in dire need of a makeover. As the area gets denser, they would like to see a comprehensive open space plan that addresses the needs of pedestrians, cyclists, and mass transit users while increasing road safety.

Perhaps the most glaring open space issue in Journal Square is the lack of a true park, coupled with the condition of the plaza outside the PATH station. The One Journal Square project will spruce up a run-down fountain into a plaza complete with trees and seating, but New JSQ would also like to see District Improvement Bonuses added to the redevelopment plan, which would fund the Journal Square Comprehensive Open Space Plan’s design and construction.

Members of New JSQ met with several city officials on March 1 to ask them to follow through with their promise to overhaul the plan. The city, for their part, suggested a few new amendments to the plan that would limit all building heights to four stories on streets that are 45 feet wide or less which fall mostly within the Hilltop area.

Any changes made to the plan would affect future developments and would not apply to projects that are already approved. A timeline for the changes to the plan remains fluid, but momentum appears to be gathering to get something done this year.

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13 COMMENTS

  1. I would question why any urban plan especially one on the of scale Journal Square would not have a provision for open space.

    With only 63 respondents to the JCQ sponsored survey while interesting it is not wide enough to be reflective of the overall feelings of the city and more and bias free input is needed.

    Adding a “Affordable Housing” component to any development sound good but it is not free and somebody is picking up the bill. I have never seen any break out as to what it costs other taxpayers for each unit of affordable housing added. The public may have a different opinion when they see what it costs.

  2. John G, it’s obvious you haven’t read the plan as there is provisions for open space.

    I applaud the members of the New JSQ Community Association for making their voice heard and making a change. Bravo!

    Affordable housing is important and I agree that way to fund it could be through the use of density bonuses or making it a condition of the tax abatement. To John G’s point however, affordable housing isn’t free and it would be interesting to see what other community benefits could be funded (i.e. public schools, new parks).

    I want to see a supermarket come to the empty lot at One Journal Square. The crappy C-Town or Stop and Shop in the Heights isn’t cutting it anymore.

  3. This group is a naked scam sponsored by developers to counter the Hilltop Neighborhood Association. This groups needs to be investigated as to its funding. The rezoning of JSQ with no height limits also needs to be investigated — on a national level. Not even NYC has a district with no height limits. This is an outrageous giveaway. Now this group wants height restrictions on streets that are less than 45 feet wide. Translation: Now that we got unlimited height in Journal Square, we don’t want no competition from surrounding streets. People have been holding out on these small streets for decades and now this groups wants to screw them. The rezoning of JSQ is a scandal of national importance and I hope Fulop and his pals are fully investigated. Shame on you Jerseydigs for being such a supine mouthpiece for this group.

    • Tony, the 45 foot height restriction is being pursued by the Hilltop Neighborhood Association and Councilman Rich Boggiano to protect the existing low rise neighborhood.

      No one has an issue with heights west of Summit, but there is a desire to prevent high rises east of Summit, which is what the Hilltop NA will accomplish.

      I don’t know enough about the JSQ association, but please do not confuse the issues as the Hilltop fact neighborhood east of Summit is largely IN SUPPORT of a height limit. I would think the developers would like to see no height limits both east and west of Summit Ave.

  4. “New JSQ says they’ve recommended the city add inclusionary zoning to the redevelopment plan and would like to see them provide incentives to developers who incorporate affordable housing into their plans using PILOTs, or Payment in Lieu of Taxes.”

    Hey great, unlimited height is not good enough. Add a few apartments in Greenville and you get no taxes. JC people are not this stupid. How do we get Fulop out? JC has always been corrupt. But this is corruption that goes beyond the pale even for JC.

  5. Tony, you mad bro?

    I applaud the new JSQ members for speaking out and making their voice heard. I’m a resident of Magnolia Ave, and I never felt the Hilltop Neighborhood Association shared my values. It’s very much the old guard led by Boggiano. I’m going to try and attend one of the new JSQ meetings to learn more.

    I believe affordable housing is important, along with getting a decent supermarket in the area. C-Town and Stop and Shop in the Heights just doesn’t cut it.

  6. Hey Tony,

    1. There are height limits in the JSQ 2060 RDP.

    2. We don’t want to limit height restrictions on small streets. Hilltop does.

    3. We are not a naked scam by developers. We are a group that is concerned with the transformation of Journal Square and we want to make sure it is done right. Some of our members are architects and urban planners, we have experts in planning and affordable housing speak at our meetings, and we survey our members to make sure all voices are heard. Our members can become part of our Construction and Planning committee. We invite everyone to join us and share their ideas about how we can improve Journal Square.

    4. We supported PILOTs because the Chief Of Staff at New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, Katherine Brennan, spoke at our meeting and said that while they are not perfect, PILOTs are the most effective solution for creating affordable housing at the moment. If there is another solution for creating affordable housing that doesn’t involve PILOTs we would reconsider our position.

    -New JSQ

  7. New JSQ: Some of your members are architects and urban planners? That’s nice. Would these be the same architects and urban planners that led to the decimation of inner cities through suburban sprawl in the first place? Where were these so-called urban planners when the entirety of North Jersey was paved over and decimated with single-family housing while Newark and Jersey City died on the vine? Now they are suddenly back to help JSQ? Give me a break. Any student who has taken Urban Planning 101 would be ashamed to propose what is going on in JSQ. The infrastructure is simply not there to support this level of development. Does your organization support a special tax on all new residences and construction to pay for mass transit improvements? No? Ahh I didn’t think so. What is going on in JSQ is an outrageous scandal of national importance. The urban planning profession is a total failure and is solidly in the pockets of developers. Meanwhile, the simple two-family homeowners who have to rent out the upstairs apartment just to pay the propery tax now have to compete with government-subsidized luxury housing that is subject to a different tax regime. This is an outrageous constitutional violation. Where are the young lawyers ready to make a name for themselves? JSQ is a bird’s nest of corruption.

  8. JSQ PATH station is a disaster and needs a complete overhaul. Why don’t the ESCALATORS work? For heavens sake they’re closed more than open…also, more entrances/exits are needed to make it easier to get in and out. A direct entrance from Sip & JFK to the mezzanine would be a start. Plus add staircases to the platforms because the current form is unsustainable.

  9. Please please please do something about the plaza. anything. its a mess. ive been living here for 8 years and nearly once got mugged in the center of the plaza by a man clearly on some serious crack. It hasnt scared me away. i love it here, it has so much potential. I ask for anything to make it safer, and more appealing.

  10. We need affordable housing in Jersey City since every new building is now a luxury building without any affordable housing. Gentrification has been happening in JC for over 4 years

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