Redevelopment Projects  
Redevelopment Area:

Journal Square City Center Towers

General Information
Address: Kennedy Blvd.
Neighborhood: Journal Square
Redevelopment Area: Journal Square
Type: Mixed-Use Residential
Status: Board Approved
Last Updated: Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Journal Square TowersClick on image for larger view

Project Description

This 1.5 acre site adjacent to the Journal Square PATH station represents one of the most exciting and significant development opportunities in the region. The existing surface parking lot and 1-story retail stores will be replaced with an iconic structure of exceptional design that will be a visual gateway to Journal Square , support a growing population and workforce, and further the revitalization that is already underway.  The plan combines rental housing, multi-story retail and parking in a transit-oriented, "green" development that will bring new vigor to Journal Square . This mixed-use development will consist of 58- and 38-story residential towers above a 7-story retail and parking base with a rooftop terrace.

The Journal Square Project will contain150,000 square feet of retail space on the basement, ground and second levels and fronting Journal Square Plaza, the PATH and Transportation Center and Sip Avenue; 330,000 square feet of structured parking on five levels; 1.24 million square feet of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments for approximately 1,500 units and 40,000 square foot roof terrace with a swimming pool, children's play area, dog run, lawn area and other amenities.

This project is being undertaken by MEPT Journal Square Urban Renewal, LLC - a partnership between the Multi-Employer Property Trust based in Bethesda, Md., a national real estate equity fund that invests union pension funds; Harwood Properties, based in Jersey City; and the Fairfield, Conn.-headquartered Becker + Becker, an architectural, planning, preservation and development firm.


The project has received Preliminary Site Plan approval from Jersey City Planning Board, and has executed a redevelopment agreement with the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency.  Once the design is complete and fully approved, the project will take approximately 30 months to construct, with the North Tower completed in advance of the South Tower .  The first units are expected to be available for occupancy in 2010. 

 About the co-developers:

Becker + Becker logo seeks projects that have a social and environmental value: restoring underutilized historic buildings and urban sites to provide housing, education, retail and day care facilities. B+B prides itself on developing creative solutions to complex challenges in land use planning and architecture to create sustainable development.

We strive to enrich the larger environment and community that our work becomes a part of, and are committed to recognizing and addressing the vital social and environmental role of buildings. We believe good design and development result from a comprehensive understanding of how buildings should function, serve their users and affect the environment.

Becker + Becker
95 Reef Road
Fairfield, CT 06824
T 203.292.4900
F 203.292.4901

MULTI-EMPLOYER PROPERTY TRUST (MEPT) is an open-end commingled real estate equity fund that invests in a diversified portfolio of institutional-quality real estate assets, and 100% union-built new construction properties. MEPT's portfolio consists of 170 properties in 24 major metropolitan markets around the country. MEPT’s primary investment strategy is to create top-quality, core, income-producing assets through development, rehabilitation, or acquisition and repositioning of undervalued assets. The Fund invests in office buildings, warehouses, flex/research and development facilities, retail centers, apartments and hotels in order to maintain a diversified, institutional-grade “core” portfolio that produces strong and stable current income.

Founded in 1982, MEPT has $7.04 billion in net assets and has grown to become one of the largest commingled real estate equity funds in the country and the largest fund with a commitment to union labor. MEPT has 170 properties owned nationwide, and over 318 participating pension plans. With a 25-year track record, MEPT's seasoned management team has consistently delivered competitive and stable returns for its investor base while providing an investment vehicle that offers flexibility and liquidity, creates jobs, and contributes to the overall economic vitality of the markets where the Fund invests.

Redevelopment Plan
Block & Lot Map
Superimposed Map
Parking Study Report
Study of Existing Conditions

Journal Square Vision


Project Details
Unit Type: studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments
Number of Units: 1500
Developer Name: MEPT-Journal Square, LLC
Developer Contact Info: Becker + Becker 95 Reef Road Fairfield, CT 06824 T 203.292.4900 F 203.292.4901
Land Sq. Ft.: 65340
Gross Building Sq. Ft.: 1200000
Total Dwelling Units: 1500
Parking Spaces: 800

Contact Information
Events Calendar / Community Announcements
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Project News
04/02/2007 - $100G State Grant for Journal Square Plan

The largest "smart growth" grant in the state belongs to Jersey City. 

By Ken Thorbourne, Jersey Journal Staff Writer

The New Jersey Department of Community Affairs has awarded the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency $100,000 to develop a comprehensive plan for Journal Square as an entertainment and retail hub, city officials said last week.

The grant is in keeping with the state's push to promote residential and commercial districts around mass transit centers, city officials said.

"We are very excited about this grant," said JCRA Executive Director Robert Antonicello.  "It gives the city an opportunity to coordinate the growth of the (Hudson County) community college and other large-scale projects in the area."

The grant money will be used to hire the Princeton-based A. Nelessen Associates, an urban planning firm, and Hoboken-based architect and urban designer Dean Marchetto, Antonicello said.

The "City Center" project is to have 120,000 square feet of retail, he said.

The city, through the state's Urban Enterprise Zone program, has set asside $1.2 million to make facade improvements in Journal Square

2007 The Jersey Journal

August 15, 2008

In response to an editorial in the July 28, 2008 edition of the Jersey Journal regarding the Journal Square Public Visioning Charette, Mayor Jerramiah Healy’s administration and the Redevelopment Agency are actively engaged in a public dialogue on how to best restore Journal Square from its present state to what it once was: a world-class residential and commercial center.

First I would like to point out that these Charettes are part of a process that began almost two and one-half years ago when the Mayor directed the Redevelopment Agency to initiate a process of putting together a plan to address the long, slow decline of Journal Square.

The Journal Square Design Charette is the first step in a series of many opportunities for public participation. I should also state that no comprehensive discussion can take place regarding Journal Square without the involvement and input of the Port Authority, owners and operators of the PATH System. The Journal Square PATH train and bus terminal serve more than 17 million riders a year and is central to the rebirth of the Square as a commercial hub. We have been and will continue to seek the involvement and input of the Port Authority in this unprecedented endeavor.

If Journal Square is going to rebound, it’s going to happen by forming a public/private partnership which links all levels of government with the business community and the residents. All are stakeholders in the rebirth of Journal Square with the residents of Jersey City first among equals.
I would like to make clear that a number of subjects brought up in the Journal’s piece, i.e.. RAD’s, off site parting facilities, are preliminary in nature and ought to be treated as part of a discussion rather than drawing any hard conclusion during the infancy stage of the planning cycle.

In closing, what the City and the Redevelopment Agency has done is to take painstaking measures to ensure that the most important stakeholders, the City’s residents, are incorporated into this critical “vision” process early and often. I will state without reservation that Mayor Healy’s administration is committed to taking a comprehensive approach to the renaissance of all areas in the City not just Journal Square.

We will continue to carefully monitor both economic and transportation trends. We are blessed with a wonderful transportation network which would be valued in the billions of dollars if it had to be created today, and at the centerpiece of this transportation network lies Journal Square. As we move forward in planning and rebuilding Journal Square, we are committed to smart growth planning, “green” and sustainable development, walkable and liveable cities. All of these elements will play a major role in the planning process and ultimately the implementation of a plan for Journals Square. We look forward to the months ahead as we begin meeting with other participants of this process to begin to move in the direction we all want to see for Journal Square. This will no doubt be a passionate discussion as we all feel deeply about “the Square.” The one thing I’m sure we can all agree on is, “it’s about time!”

Robert P. Antonicello
Executive Director
04/02/2007 - Square Plans May Be Decided by End of Year


The Jersey Journal
Saturday, August 16, 2008

A comprehensive plan for the redevelopment of the Journal Square area in Jersey City should be in place by the end of the year, a city official said earlier this week.
According to a timetable prepared by Jersey City Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Robert Antonicello, the City Council should be in a position to vote on final rehabilitation and redevelopment plans by the end of December.
This area is roughly bordered by Route 139 in the north, Garrison Avenue in the west, Vroom Street in the south and Baldwin Avenue in the east.
The rehab and redevelopment plans - a draft of which should be ready by the first week of November - will be based on the "Visioning Study" being carried out by architect/planners Anton C. Nelessen and Dean Marchetto.
Over the past two months, Nelessen and Marchetto have led two "charrettes," or workshops, with stakeholders in the area - one with developers and the other with community residents - complete with video images of what Journal Square could potentially look like.
The developer group, all of whom already own land in the area, included the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Joseph Panepinto, Harwood/MEPT Urban Renewal, Schenkman/Kushner, Hudson County Community College, Peter Mangin of Garden State Development, and Hartz Mountain Industries, Antonicello said.
The city is also on track to develop a "revenue allocation district" within this larger zone, in which some of the money collected from tax-abated properties would be used to pay for infrastructure improvements within the RAD, Antonicello said.
The RAD, which would overlap the area in need of redevelopment, is not likely to be in place before November 2009, he said.
Antonicello said the city shouldn't have to use condemnation to achieve its goals. State Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ) money would be used to pay for restoration and facade improvements, he said.

Square plans may be decided by end of year
(The Jersey Journal - August 16th, 2008) - PDF (1.52MB)

04/02/2007 - Bob Cotter, Jersey City Planning Director Responds to Jersey Journal Editorial
[This is a response to an opinion published in the Jersey Journal on the October 22nd, 2008 - "Pushing 'vision' much too hard"]

Jersey City - Department of Housing, Economic Development & Commerce - Division of City Planning

Editor, Jersey Journal
30 Journal Square
Jersey City, NJ 07306

Dear Editor:

You really need to go to the eye doctor and get a new prescription, because your vision is obviously impaired.

Mayor Healy’s vision plan for Journal Square is a forward looking, 21st Century plan that deals with all of the ills that have affected the Square over the last 50 years and sets a bold and imaginative course to correct these problems.

The Jersey Journal is missing the point – a vision plan is a concept plan. Much like the “concept cars” displayed at the auto shows produce practical vehicles a few years later, the concepts contained in the Journal Square Vision Plan will lead to practical solutions in the form of a redevelopment plan, which will be presented to the Municipal Council later this year. The redevelopment plan will lay out the rules and regulations for the development of new buildings in the Square and the incentives and bonuses we will employ to pay for the public improvements envisioned by the plan.

The vision plan is the result of brilliant work by the design team, informed by a series of meetings, called design “charrettes.” In those meeting, local residents and property owners participated in workshops designed to effectively draw out their opinions and desires and help produce the vision statement and plan.

You are mistaken when you say cars will be banned from the Square. Everyone says traffic is a major problem in the Square. The reason there is so much traffic in the Square is because there is so much parking in the Square. Did you know there are 49 acres of parking lots in the 244 acre Study Area? Did you know there are almost 10,000 parking spaces in the Study Area? Surface parking lots are just about the lowest value land use there is and are devastating to the vitality of a bustling downtown. Getting most of that parking relocated outside the Square will greatly reduce the traffic and put people back on the sidewalks and not in their cars.

This plan gets most of the cars out of the Square with remote parking garages: some on the outskirts of the Square and others on the outskirts of the city. The Plan envisions a park and ride at the Frank R. Lautenberg Train Station/Exit 15X and at the Meadowlands/Giants Stadium. These intercept parking facilities would be connected to the Square by a light rail extension with a station at the remote garage envisioned at Route 139 and the Boulevard. This station would be the northern terminus of the narrow gauge trolley the plan envisions running from Route 139 to McGinley Square. By the way, can you see the benefits this trolley system produces for Bergen Hill and the Heights?

The most transit intense places should have the most intense land uses. That’s why Manhattan is so densely populated and so exciting. Jersey City is second only to Manhattan in terms of transit and walk to work commutes. The PATH system’s Newark – World Trade Center line is going to be greatly enhanced in the coming few years. New cars, greater station capacity, improved signalization and empty cars starting the WTC run from Journal Square will provide a doubling of current capacity. This growth of transit capacity indicates that the Square is a place where we should grow our city.

As for our waterfront, I am truly sorry you can’t see the internationally acclaimed renaissance that has occurred there. The redevelopment of the rusted, rotted remains of 19th and 20th Century shipyards and railyards left behind after the railroads went bankrupt and the shippers left for Port Newark/Port Elizabeth is nothing short of miraculous. That Jersey City was able to rise from the despair of the 1960s to become the 12th largest downtown in America in the last 40 years, and do that without adding a single lane of highway, is the stuff they write books about. But, apparently, not newspaper editorials.

And while we all agree Hoboken’s waterfront is people friendly and the citizens who fought for those amenities deserve immense credit, you have to remember that everybody in Hoboken lives within a mile of the Hudson River. It is just about everyone’s front yard. Hoboken is park-poor. The riverfront was their greatest opportunity for open space and they fought for it. Jersey City is 15 times bigger than Hoboken. Liberty State Park, once upon a time a concept plan envisioned by Morris Pesin, is as big as all of Hoboken. I don’t know anybody who thinks that waterfront park was a mistake.

And I’m sorry the local newspaper of this great city can’t see that the economic engine of New Jersey lies along the Hudson River in Jersey City. “Wall Street West” was the vision plan of another great mayor, Tom Gangemi, back in 1962. The wasteland that was the waterfront back then has been transformed, as if by magic, into an emerging metropolis. It is a work in progress, but while incomplete, it is still pretty spectacular.

You really ought to come down to our waterfront and see it sometime. Take a PATH train to Exchange Place. Get out and walk along the Hudson River Walkway. Walk out on J. Owen Grundy Pier. Walk over to the Hyatt. Have lunch. Visit the park at the end of the pier. Walk north to the foot of Second Street and envision the public marina the Redevelopment Agency is building there. Walk north along the walkway to Newport and visit the waterfront park just north of the Sixth Street Pier. Then walk around the corner. Stop and have coffee at Starbucks and then watch the seniors doing Tai Chi in the little gem that is Town Square. And as soon as construction of the bridge over the Long Slip Canal is finished, you can walk right into quite quaint Hoboken!

But first, you really should have your vision checked. And maybe your hearing as well.

Very truly yours,

Robert D. Cotter, PP, AICP
Planning Director

Photos by Christopher Lane and JCRA