Two prominent Jersey City developers have joined forces for a project that will add rental housing and retail to one of the city’s major crossroads, a plan that will also help build a much-need annex for a local private school.
Last week, Eric Silverman and Fields Development’s Robert Caulfield presented plans to the Historic Paulus Hook Association for land that runs along Grand Street between Marin Boulevard and Van Vorst Street. The properties consist of a mostly vacant Z-shaped lot on the south side of the street in front of St. Peter’s ballfield (don’t worry dive bar fans, the property does not include the Golden Cicada), plus a parking lot at the north side of the street directly adjacent to Our Lady of Czestochowa.
The housing portion of the project, which is still in the conceptual stage, was designed by architecture firm HLW International. It would combine several lots and construct two mid-rise towers at the site, one 22 stories tall and the other rising up 16 floors. The buildings will be “tiered” and start out at four stories on the street level, a move the developers hope will help the project blend into the streetscape.
If approved, the development will bring between 275-300 market-rate rentals to the neighborhood, plus a small retail component. About 150 parking spaces will also be built in the project’s garage, which will be entered through nearby Sussex Street. The building will contain 1, 2, and 3-bedroom apartments and Silverman made a point during the meeting to stress that the project will “stay away from micro-units,” as larger living spaces have become in demand.
To move forward, Silverman and Fields will be seeking amendments to the Tidewater Basin Redevelopment Plan, which covers the area sandwiched between Paulus Hook and the Liberty Harbor North Redevelopment Area. Due to the stature of the proposal, changes would need to be made to the plan’s “Grand and Marin District,” which currently caps building height at five stories and 57 feet for developments that include a penthouse.
The residential portion of the project will help Our Lady of Czestochowa, a Catholic school, pay for an expansion of their academic facility across the street. Manhattan-based RKTB has designed a state-of-the-art annex slated to rise on the school’s parking lot that will include twelve classrooms, offices, basketball courts, a theater, and a rooftop play area. Caulfield, whose children attend OLC, said the annex portion “will ensure the school’s future” and allow them to cater to the expanding families starting to take up residence in the city.
The proposed project’s land currently pays no taxes because it is owned by the Archdiocese, but development would generate new ratables to the city if approved and built. Silverman said the companies haven’t made a final decision on applying for a tax abatement, but they likely won’t seek any and definitely won’t request a long-term one.
If the plan is approved, both the annex and proposed residential development would be built simultaneously. Silverman said they hope to be in front of the boards “this quarter” to present the plans and will also need a height variance for the school annex portion of the project.
Some members present at the meeting expressed concerns about the “walling off” of Paulus Hook, arguing that the building was too tall and dense for the neighborhood. But Silverman and Caulfield both stressed that the plans aren’t final and they want to work more with community groups before the project is presented for final approval.