In a unanimous vote, the Jersey City Planning Board gave a green light to a controversial luxury apartment complex in Bergen-Lafayette following years of community opposition and litigation.
The new plan for the 420-unit building at the corner of Communipaw Avenue and Woodward Street on the site of the former Steel Tech factory represents a radical departure from the original plan unveiled in 2020.
With a narrower silhouette which proponents say will greatly reduce shadows cast on the surrounding neighborhood, the new design for the 18-story building draws inspiration from the “post industrial nature of the site, being a steel manufacturing facility” according to architect Juan Rodriguez.
The plan, said Rodriguez, integrates with the community by including a 30-foot walkway that allows pedestrians to walk through the project straight to Manning Avenue and on to Lafayette Park.
Rodriguez took the Board through the plan’s details, which include a one story “market building,” a one story “food pavilion,” and a four story recreation center which includes a basketball court, music studio and offices.
Rodriguez noted that while the redevelopment plan only requires 20 thousand square feet of open space, the new design would include almost 40 thousand square feet of open space.
An open plaza will be lined with 7,425 square feet of retail space. There will be 233 private indoor parking spaces and 40 public parking spaces outside.
The existing Steel Tech “Head House” will be rehabbed for commercial space.
Speaking on behalf of the Morris Canal Community Development Corporation, which brought a lawsuit in 2021 to stop the project but now supports it, Carol Tyler said “The new plan before you is not only far more aesthetically pleasing than the previous rendering, but the plan depicts a project that would be better integrated with the community.”
Local activist Jean Daily called the project “spectacular.”
Opponents of the original plan raised multiple objections. Chief among them were the project’s size in a neighborhood of one and two family homes and the inclusion of only five percent affordable housing. While the new version doesn’t increase the percentage of affordable units, critics appear to be mollified by the design changes.
Said developer Louis Mont “It’s been a long hard road. It’s amazing tonight to hear the Morris Canal group stand up and favor the project. I can’t tell you what it means to me personally.”