St. Peter’s Will Appeal Jersey City’s Demolition Denial

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St. Peter's 137 55 York Street Paulus Hook Jersey City Historic 2
St. Peter’s Grammar School, 137-55 York Street, Paulus Hook Historic District, Jersey City. Photo by Darrell Simmons/Jersey Digs.

After their application looking to tear down two historic properties was denied last month, St. Peter’s Prep has filed paperwork to challenge the decision and will go before the city’s zoning board for an appeal hearing.

Jersey Digs has confirmed that there will soon be another chapter in the ongoing saga involving two buildings the preparatory school owns at 137-155 York Street. The drama started last summer when plans emerged to demolish a structure that housed the original parish school, which dates back to 1861, and the adjacent St. Peter’s Hall, which was designed by Herman Kreitler and constructed in the mid-1890s.

St. Peter’s Hall was once the site where future U.S. President Woodrow Wilson announced his candidacy for Governor of New Jersey back in 1910. But despite the history at the properties, they remained vacant for years under the school’s ownership and were further damaged when Hurricane Sandy struck in 2012.

St. Peter's 137 55 York Street Paulus Hook Jersey City HistoricThe choice by the school to tear down both buildings and replace them with a surface parking lot sparked a debate in the neighborhood, and a scheduled hearing on the matter was delayed several times. St. Peter’s eventually did go before the city’s Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) last month, where their demolition application was unanimously denied following a marathon five-hour meeting.

Some had wondered if the school would appeal the decision and they got their answer last week, as St. Peter’s filed paperwork to overturn the decision on May 2. The school will head before the city’s zoning board for a hearing and Richard Southwick of Manhattan’s Beyer, Blinder & Belle Architects and Planners is listed as the architect of record for the appeal.

Southwick was the architect who made a presentation to the HPC last month on behalf of St. Peter’s that claimed both buildings suffered extensive damage from Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and that saving them “would not be practical” given the costs and time involved.

Two engineers based out of New York, Bradford Kiefer of GACE Consulting and Jan Cermak of MRCE Rugledge Consulting, are listed on the paperwork for the school’s general development application. A date to hear the appeal has not yet been set on the zoning board’s agenda.

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