The City of Jersey City’s historic Central Business District, is once again realizing its extraordinary potential for redevelopment and renewal. The Journal Square Vision Plan, prepared by A. Nelessen Associates (ANA) in partnership with the Division of Planning and the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency (JCRA) represents one of the crucial first steps in realizing the potential. The Journal Square Vision Plan is the direct result of years of planning and describes a long-term vision that has emerged for Journal Square. The Vision Plan was intended to be both a record of an extensive public planning process and a guide for the future development of the Journal Square neighborhood. It contains a compilation of maps, diagrams, images and text describing recommendations on a broad range of topics including urban design character, future land uses and transportation concepts for the Study Area.
The Journal Square 2060 Redevelopment Plan
As per the Plan’s Introduction: On November 25, 2008 the Jersey City Municipal Council determined, by Resolution #08-879, the Greater Journal Square Study Area to be an “area in need of rehabilitation,” pursuant to the New Jersey Local Housing and Redevelopment Law (N.J.S.A. 40A:12A- 1 et seq.). Previously, portions of the Journal Square area were also declared to be an “area in need of redevelopment,” called the Journal Square Redevelopment Plan originally adopted in 1974 and amended several times since. This redevelopment plan focuses on Journal Square, the PATH rail station and bus depot, as well as the surrounding neighborhoods within walking distance, comprising an area of approximately 211 acres, 57 city blocks, and approximately 1600 individual parcels. The purpose of the Journal Square 2060 Plan is to foster the redevelopment of Journal Square, Jersey City’s central business district, by providing for transit oriented development of new housing, offices, commercial, and public open spaces within walking distance to the Square and transit facilities, returning Journal Square to a flourishing central business and shopping destination.
Since the mid 1950’s, various plans in and around Journal Square were adopted by the Jersey City Municipal Council to address the adjacent air-rights development over the PATH rail cut and various development parcels in the vicinity of the Journal Square Transportation Center. Then in 2007, the Journal Square Vision Plan was prepared by A. Nelessen Associates, Inc. (ANA) in coordination the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency (JCRA) and the City of Jersey City. The process included multiple charrettes and public meetings, producing a comprehensive vision for the greater Journal Square area. The Journal Square 2060 Redevelopment Plan is the culmination of seven years of combined planning efforts of the city, private sector and community to bring about a redevelopment plan that would take root and is a spring board for long term growth in the “Square”. 808 Pavonia Avenue is being developed as an “as-of-right” project in accordance with the Journal Square Plan and its recently approved Zone 10 arts district amendment.
What does “As-of-Right” mean?
In each zoning district, certain land uses are permitted as the principal and primary uses of land; these are called as-of-right uses. That is the case with 808 Pavonia Avenue. Moreover, accessory uses that are customarily found in association with these principal uses, but which are incidental and subordinate to them, are also permitted as-of-right. For example, in a single-family zoning district, a single- family home is the principal use and a garage or shed is allowed as an accessory use. Because the plan was developed as an “as-of-right” project, the developer, Harwood Properties is required to submit their plans to the Planning Board for site plan review. The project is now in the Planning Division for review.
Zone 10: The New Arts District
When the Journal Square plan was adopted in 2010, it was after a three-year process that started in the winter of 2007. The plan created 10 different Zones based on over 22 community meetings. Zone 10, covers the Harwood property exclusively and that was by design. As a result of over 18 months of working with the City and Planning Division, Zone 10 is now the new “Art District”. The beginning of a much larger Art District in Journal Square.
Public Right of Way
Zone 10 presently has a “deeded pedestrian right of way (ROW) that serves as a convenient walkway and short cut into the Square for the western neighborhoods of Marion, Mana and St. Ann’s. This ROW has been in place since the 1920’s and has served as a vital link to the Square for those neighborhoods. Unfortunately, that ROW now takes residents walking to the Square through the parking facilities of Zone 10, creating a difficult pedestrian environment at best. With more development taking place in Marion and Mana, the need to create a safe and attractive ROW is critical to the continued growth of the Square and its western neighborhoods.
Expansion of Cultural amenities in the Central Business District (CBD) and the Square
The Arts District Amendment is written to support the redevelopment of the Loews and the Square by creating additional cultural amenities and connecting existing ones. Creating new amenities and connecting existing ones is a key aspect of the 2060 Plan The Arts District takes a major step in that direction by not just creating new cultural venues, like the Ally Black Box theater and museum, but also the incentives to create world class performing arts venues, above the retail. Think venues like Jazz at Lincoln Center! Moreover, the Arts District Amendments, takes large positive steps in addressing the historic deficiencies of the Loews loading dock and control room. And the Amendment also begins the process of connecting the Mana Arts District with the historic center of entertainment for the city with the “Arts Path” from the Loews, down the redesigned Loew’s Alley and Magnolia Plaza, past the Alley Theater, museum and amphitheater, onto Tonnelle Ave, a short walk too Mana.
Building a place, not a project!
The history of many projects in Jersey City has been a lack of understanding the essential elements of “placemaking”. According to the ULI studies, projects that do not work tend to have four common elements: a single land use; a lack of public space and amenities; dependence on one mode of transportation, usually the car; and failure to provide a safe, 24-hour environment. In contrast, the list of qualities found among successful projects is long, including mixed uses; connectivity to transportation and infrastructure; cohesiveness with long-range community plans; and a strategic vision, which includes a greater emphasis on "placemaking" beyond that for a standard project. 808 Pavonia, compliments the 2060 Plan, not just by bringing the arts, culture and entertainment back into Journal Square, but the entire city by beginning the process of creating a vibrant center for the City.
A CULTURAL CENTER
Beginning in the 1920’s, Journal Square developed as a focal point for the arts and culture of Jersey City. The Square was originally planned as a pedestrian friendly space that could accomodate both the crowds flocking to the Loew’s and Stanley Theaters, as well as the shoppers along the original East and West Concourse.
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