JERSEY CITY, NJ - Developers of the long-debated Morris Canal Park Manor appeared before the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency’s (JCRA) board of directors on Tuesday, detailing their construction plans for the multi-use residential property. 

Skyline Development Group of North Bergen looks to base the 17-story project at 417 Communipaw Ave. and 139 Woodward St. in Jersey City and include 409 apartments, commercial space, and several facilities accessible to the community. But critics worry that the proposal could drive gentrification with unaffordable rent prices.

“We’ve worked hard for almost two years to attain the zone change that gives us the density required to be able to offer the significant community investments that are now attached to the zoning for this parcel,” said Louis Mont, owner and CEO of Skyline Development. 

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Morris Canal Park ManorRenderings of the Manor indicate that the project will occupy over three acres at the former Steel Technologies manufacturing plant and estimates from the city financial consultant’s office forecast that construction costs will reach almost $175 million. Last December, the city council adopted amendments to the Morris Canal Redevelopment Plan to enable building the structure.

In addition to fears of fueling gentrification, Mont described that community members have voiced a desire to see Jersey City buy the land and leave it undeveloped, using it to extend nearby Berry Lane Park on Woodward Street. He explained that those negotiations fell through years ago when city officials could not reach an agreement on the purchase price with the Steel Technologies plant’s owner.

According to Charles Heydt of Dresdner Robin, an engineering consulting firm working with Skyline Development, the complex will contain a restaurant, school, and room for retail and offices, all available to the public. Models indicate that a 22,000-square-foot recreation center will abut Berry Lane Park.

“There’s a couple connections that we were obviously trying to make with the park in terms of connections through the site, but also as the development program evolved, the concept of a recreation center was introduced into the project,” Heydt said at the JCRA’s virtual meeting. “And one of the goals was…to really have a very high level of interaction and integration of the rec center indoor amenity for the community right adjacent to the Berry Lane Park.”

Mont added that five percent of the residential units will be inclusionary housing for low-income families and approximately 40 percent of the property’s 14,000-square-foot retail space is allocated for businesses owned by women, minorities, and veterans. He expressed an interest in seeing the Manor’s outdoor areas host farmers’ markets, art and music festivals, and other community events. 

The L-shaped apartment building will also feature recessed setbacks on the eighth and 11th floors to give the façade a two-tiered edge on both ends.     

“Although the cumulative financial impact of so many givebacks makes it more difficult to finance a project like this, we are confident that we will get the job done and are thrilled to have a project that will so thoroughly integrate itself into the community,” Mont said.

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