Residential Conversion Proposed for Vacant Church on Pacific Avenue

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326 Pacific Avenue June 2015
The former St. John’s AME Church at 326 Pacific Avenue as seen in June 2015. Photo via Google Maps.

A former Lafayette church could soon be home to dozens of residents, if a new adaptive reuse proposal is approved.

The abandoned St. John’s AME Church building at 326 Pacific Avenue and an attached structure at 297 Whiton Street would be converted to residential use. The proposal calls for 33 units, with nine automobile parking spaces and 16 bicycle parking spaces. The first floor would have a lobby and there would be an addition made to the sloped roof. Both structures are located between Communipaw Avenue and Lafayette Street in Ward F.

Those details come from a legal notice stating that the developer is seeking both preliminary and final site plan approval from the Jersey City Planning Board. Jersey City-based 326 Pacific Ave., LLC is the developer and its proposal will go before the board on Tuesday, December 5. The hearing is at City Hall and starts at 5:30 p.m.

The church, which is located a few blocks away from Lafayette Park and the Liberty State Park Hudson-Bergen Light Rail station, closed in 2015, after over 50 years. “The church property was in disrepair and it was too costly to fix,” said Rev. Alexander Santora in a 2014 Jersey Journal column. The congregation subsequently merged with the Mount Pisgah AME Church. The Hudson Reporter wrote in 2004 that the St. John’s building underwent a restoration at that time, and that part of it was constructed back in 1875.

If this plan to convert the church to residential use sounds familiar, it is probably because a different proposal was put forth three years ago. The Community Asset Preservation Alliance of Jersey City, an affiliate of New Brunswick-based New Jersey Community Capital, bought the building and proposed converting it into a residential structure with 12 units. However, NJ Parcels records show that the current developer purchased the property from CAPA in 2016 for $1.05 million.

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