Update: This project was approved by the Jersey City Planning Board at its meeting on May 8th.
When Palisade Lumber closed last year, it was only a matter of time before a proposal would surface to redevelop the seven parcel stretch of Palisade Avenue.
Dan Goff, who owned and operated the lumber company for over 30 years and has been a fixture in the neighborhood through its ups and downs, enlisted Minervini Vandermark, a Hoboken-based architect firm with years of experience designing in Hoboken and Jersey City. The result was a five-story, 46 unit condo development with 41 parking spaces and multiple street-level retail spaces. Clad in brick and glass, the exterior finishes were selected to fit with the neighborhood.
The project, however, has become a contentious debate. Proponents argue that the new building will help revitalize Palisade Avenue, increase pedestrian traffic and provide valuable retail space for new businesses. On the other hand, opponents are concerned about the building’s five-story height which puts it one floor above the existing structures along the avenue.
The most outspoken critic of the project is the Riverview Neighborhood Association (RNA) who sat down with the developer to discuss their concerns. Receptive to these concerns, the development team scaled back their original design which would have risen six stories and included 60 units.
Just last week, Jersey City’s Planning Board recommended to City Council a change to this stretch of Palisade Avenue from an R-2 district to R-2D. The new framework allows for five-story buildings on lots over 50’ wide. Under the new classification, the Palisade Lumber project’s design conforms to the new requirements.
The Riverview Neighborhood Association, which has wielded its voice to block other recent development proposals, has continued to vocally oppose even the scaled-back version. RNA President, Kern Weissman, state publicly on Facebook that the developers “exploited a supposed zoning ‘loophole’ to avoid the zoning board hearing”.
On the other hand, there is a growing group of Heights residents who think the RNA is too restrictive to new development which is preventing the neighborhood from moving forward. Palisade Avenue is currently littered with abandoned structures that turn off potential residents, decrease walkability, and create safety concerns for pedestrians.
Tonight, the Palisade Lumber proposal goes in front of the planning board. We encourage all Heights residents, regardless of whether you support or oppose the project, to make your voices heard. A small vocal minority should not have the power to decide the future of the neighborhood for all unless of course, they are representing the view of the entire community. There’s only one way to find out — by making your voices heard to community officials.
The Jersey City Planning Board meets tonight, May 8th at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall in Council Chambers.