JERSEY CITY, NJ - Local plans to convert the Sixth Street Embankment into what could become Jersey City’s version of the High Line took a small step last month when a New York City-based architect unveiled a vision for what the space that was once used as an active branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad.
The new design called the “Jersey City Arts Line,” would provided much-needed park space in a densely developed part of the city.
Long a matter of legal dispute, the space was owned by Steve Hyman who purchased the property from Conrail in 2005 for $3 with the aim of building commercial development on it. Since then, Hyman, who passed away in 2019, fought with the city over a definition of the railway to determine who would own it.
A relic of Jersey City’s industrial past, the embankment supported the Harsimus Branch of a Pennsylvania Railroad freight line that carried goods to and from the waterfront from 1902 through the 1970s. Conrail ceased to use the railway in 1996. Designed by James J. Ferris, the elevated rail line was erected between 1901 and 1905. The stone structure spans six blocks between Marin Boulevard and Brunswick Street.
Hyman wanted to tear down the 27-foot high structure for his proposed project, and later won the support of a federal judge who ruled in favor of him after the city’s Historic Preservation Commission denied him demolition permits. But the city continued to seek legal relief, in particular questioning the sale of the land to him by the rail company.
A series of lawsuits filed by the city were unable to wrestle control from Hyman, but after Hyman’s death last year, the city came to an agreement with his estate, allowing the Albanese Organization of New York to purchase the property in exchange for development rights to build two towers at its eastern terminus near Newport Mall.
Albanese will receive no tax abatements for the two towers that will include 875 residential units and will turn over the rest of the land for the development of a park.