A unique adaptive reuse project is currently underway in a Hudson County community.
The St. John’s Episcopal Church was incorporated in 1846 in what is now known as Union City, and operated as a parish for 165 years, before being converted into a mission church in 2011. A few years later, during the 140th Annual Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark in 2014, it was decided that St. John’s would be closed altogether, according to the Diocese. This was despite efforts by some community members to save the congregation. Now, the former church, which has stood in the same building for over a century in what was once known as West Hoboken at 1514 and 1516-1518 Palisade Avenue, at the southeast corner of 16th Street, is in the process of being converted into new use.
The Garden State Episcopal Community Development Corporation (GSECDC), of Jersey City, is rehabilitating the church, along with a neighboring vacant two-story building, “to provide supportive housing for homeless families and individuals,” according to the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the $3.9 million project with NJHMFA Executive Director Anthony Marchetta, Union City Mayor Brian Stack, Hudson County Executive Thomas DeGise, and Annemarie Uebbing of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Newark Field Office was held on April 28th, and in the time since, interior demolition has taken place and construction has begun, according to the GSECDC.
When completed, the development will consist of six efficiency units in the church itself, five one-bedroom apartments in the neighboring building, and two efficiency units next door as well. According to the NJHMFA, a community room, restrooms, and a common kitchen will be created in the building next door, and the church’s sanctuary will remain untouched.
L+C Design Consultants, of North Bergen, is listed as the project architect, while FAST Construction, of Newark, is listed as the building contractor. Funding for the church rehabilitation is being provided in part by $2.4 million in Superstorm Sandy relief funds through the NJHMFA’s Sandy Special Needs Housing Fund, “which was created in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy to provide subsidies in the form of zero- and low-interest loans to developers of affordable supportive housing in the nine counties the federal government designated as the most impacted by the storm,” according to the agency. The remaining $1.5 million is coming from the Hudson County Division of Housing and Community Development, according to a sign posted outside the church during the groundbreaking.
Residents of the rehabilitated church will be located just steps from New Jersey Transit bus lines 22 and 123, which provide service to Manhattan’s Port Authority Bus Terminal, Christ Hospital in Jersey City, Hoboken Terminal, and North Bergen.