JERSEY CITY, NJ – The Jersey City Redevelopment Agency (JCRA) received a pitch at its January meeting on Tuesday for a new high-rise apartment and park less than a half-mile from the Journal Square PATH station.

Manhattan-based HAP Investments would construct the complex—featuring a 42-story building with 902 residential units—at 500 Summit Ave. if given the JCRA’s approval on a redevelopment agreement. Accompanying the project are an 8,500-square-foot community center and an almost one-acre park extending a full block in length from Summit Avenue to Baldwin Avenue parallel to the PATH railway. 

“This has been part of a…master settlement that was negotiated with the City of Jersey City in connection with the development,” said George Garcia, an attorney from the firm Connell Foley who represented HAP at the virtual presentation. HAP sued the city through a subsidiary more than two years ago, accusing the planning board of neglecting to respond to a 2017 development application within the state-mandated 45-day period and hindering the construction permit for the site. 

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According to the settlement agreement reached by the parties last spring, Jersey City fully approved the application HAP submitted in 2017. But to achieve that authorization, the city stipulated that the developer incorporate a park and community center worth at least $2.5 million and re-dedicate both to the municipality. HAP had to allocate another $500,000 toward new plantings and public amenities in Jersey City’s Hilltop section.

The settlement also ordered HAP to provide 40 parking spaces for visitors to the community center and reserve 24 more spaces in the facility’s garage for members of the Hilltop Neighborhood Association (HNA) to compensate for the elimination of parking on nearby West Street. Garcia added that he held several discussions with city officials and the HNA to discuss the details.

Theresa Genovese, a principal of CentraRuddy Architecture, explained that the new plan features an open-air terrace with exterior seating and a playground, plus a pedestrian footpath and dog run. She described that current models for the community center include a large glass façade and an information desk. 

“Flexible community spaces within the building was a desired outcome by the community to have different kinds of spaces for art, culture, classes, community meetings,” Genovese said. 

Genovese’s renderings appeared to show the center built into the base of a hill to accommodate the land’s natural grade. The proposed structure has seating and a walkway placed directly over its roof and sits on the opposite side of the tract from the residential tower, accessible from Baldwin Avenue. 

HAP would also provide an environmental buffer between the train tracks and the outdoor portion of the property, with retailers bordering the sidewalk that passes through the park.

“Our next step, if the board is inclined to designate the developer as it’s envisioned under the settlement agreement, is to go back to the community board and get further input to finalize the design of the plan,” Garcia said.

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