JERSEY CITY, NJ -  Work has finally started in the clearing of 14 acres of vacant land for what will become part of SciTech Scity near Liberty Science Center. In early September, Paul Hoffman, CEO of Liberty Science Center, told the city council that the first phase the technology campus could break ground in 2021 and be open by 2023.

Called “SciTech Scity,” the new campus would be located along Phillip Street in Jersey City’s Ward F, and is expected to become a valuable educational tool for helping at risk kids get a start in technological fields currently considered among the best future careers.

The project which will be constructed by New Brunswick-based DEVCO will create a mini-city of tech entrepreneurs, scientists, and students, officials have said, and become home to as 100 high tech startup businesses.

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Part of a much larger project, the new hub would allow Jersey City to become a center for innovation, much the way Silicon Valley is in California, bringing it back full circle to where it was at the turn of the 20th Century, when Newark and cities around it served as a hotbed for innovators such as Thomas Edison.

The first building would include offices and labs, as well as a Liberty Science Center public high school that would accommodate 400 students. A village providing temporary housing for scholars and graduate students would be constructed in conjunction with an outside investor, Hoffman said.

A portion of the village would include Edge Works, a facility designed to host science and technology startups, and corporate representatives. It will include a fabrication lab, research spaces, offices, co-working areas for startups and entrepreneurs, and a state-of-the-art conference center and tech exhibition gallery.

Two buildings called Scholars Village will consist of residential housing for innovators, scientists, entrepreneurs, STEM graduate students, and others associated with the project. Some residential units will be set aside for short-term visitors to the complex, such as guest lecturers, corporate advisors, or consultants. 

The last part of the first phase will include a five-acre outdoor park called Public Commons set to include an events plaza, community lawn, play spaces, and a residential garden, Hoffman said. 

Donors to the project, including former U.S. Rep. Frank J. Guarini who has contributed $10 million and Bank of America whose $1 million helped boost the project in May, also include EY, Verizon, and Iron State real estate developer David Barry.  

“We have $21.5 million of the $24 million for the first phase,” Hoffman has said. “I’m certain we will have the additional $2.5 million when we break ground.”

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