JERSEY CITY, NJ – Following a review by the Jersey City Planning Board at its meeting on March 23, Hudson County appears ready to proceed with construction on a sprawling new courthouse.
Developers will base the Honorable Frank J. Guarini Justice Complex directly on the Central Avenue extension, an infrastructure upgrade connecting Newark Avenue with Route 139. The $345 million, 400,000-square-foot project is expected to open in 2023 and contain many of the services currently located inside the nearby Hudson County Administration Building at 595 Newark Ave., which is scheduled for demolition.
“The new courthouse…has 24 courtrooms, mainly criminal and family, but there are two civil courtrooms in the building,” architect David Hodge said. “It’ll house administrative offices and a 459-space parking garage for county employees and selected jurors.”
Renderings from Rafael Viñoly Architects, the firm designing the structure, indicate that the complex sits on an irregularly shaped parcel bordered by Route 139 to the north, Newark Avenue to the south, Central Avenue to the east, and Oakland Avenue to the west. Visitors will access the facility through a large glass lobby on Central Avenue, with private rear entrances on Oakland Avenue for judges and staff.
Hodge elaborated that the parking deck would be reserved for prosecutors, county sheriff’s officers, judges, and jurors impaneled on long-term trials. Employees and the public could eventually take mass transit to the Journal Square PATH Station and walk a quarter mile to the courthouse as well.
Jury assembly areas and a café are planned for the first floor, while defendants will await trial in a subterranean holding area. Hodge explained that criminal courtrooms occupy the second floor, with family court on the third floor. Court administrators’ offices on the fourth floor and prosecutors’ offices on the fifth story comprise the remainder of the building.
Across the façade of the complex, the developers utilized a blend of glazing and granite for the first three floors and incorporated windows, metal paneling, and structural steel for the top two. Hodge said that the county tried to maintain certain elements between the new facility and the William J. Brennan Courthouse constructed in the early 20th century across Newark Avenue.
“One of the things we’ve done is we sourced the same stone as what’s on Brennan to…tie those two together architecturally,” Hodge said.
The project necessitated the permanent reconfiguration of pedestrian and vehicular traffic around the worksite earlier this year. Hoboken Avenue, which previously terminated at Oakland Avenue, now ends a block earlier at Central Avenue, eliminating the stretch of roadway to provide room for the development’s foundation.
Former Rep. Frank Guarini—a lawyer and Jersey City native who served seven terms in Congress and represented the United States at NATO and the U.N. General Assembly—gave a parcel of property for the courthouse to the county. Guarini, 96, remains a prominent local real estate investor and donor, most recently contributing $10 million to launch New Jersey City University’s upcoming Institute for International Studies and performing arts center.
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