Mayor Steven Fulop joined City Council and community members on Sept. 16 to officially break ground on Jersey City’s first-ever, all-encompassing Public Safety Headquarters.
The groundbreaking for the 11-story building on MLK Drive and Kearny Avenue will be the fourth to be built as part of the municipal complex known as Jackson Square.
The $120 million Public Safety HQ is the latest addition to the $200 million investment that Jersey City has made in constructing new offices at Jackson Square which now house the Health and Human Services Offices; Housing Preservation Offices; the Department of Housing, Economic, Development, and Commerce offices; and Jersey City Employment and Training.
“When I took office, the City of Jersey City was renting office space in random separate buildings along the waterfront. It made very little sense,” Fulop said. “I decided that we can do better. So, we started to build a municipal complex on the south side of the city that would be state-of-the-art, it would be near mass transit to be easily accessible to everyone in the city, it would have all vital services in one place, and it would bring thousands of jobs to an area that needs the investment. That is exactly what we have achieved.”
The Public Safety building will be the tallest on the Jackson Square campus with 11 floors of municipal offices, conference rooms, and a Communications Center that includes 9-1-1 Dispatch.
Public Safety Director James Shea said this will allow for faster response times to emergencies.
“Relocating our dispatch operations will rework our 9-1-1 call system to eliminate steps, resulting in faster emergency services and response times where every second counts,” he said. “We continue to examine and identify ways we can improve upon our crime reduction strategies, which has resulted in historical decreases in crime and nationally recognized emergency response times, and we expect these newly streamlined operations to contribute even more.”
The 120,000-square-foot building will be the new home of the city’s Community Court and Parking Enforcement Division.
All Jersey City’s Police and Fire operations and leadership personnel will be relocated to the new headquarters as will Fire Prevention, the Special Investigations Unit, Gun Permits, Records Room, Traffic Programming, City Command, and more.
The JCPD offices will produce a police presence in the area 24/7.
“This is a win for Ward F residents and the city at large,” said Ward F Councilman Jermaine Robinson. “I worked closely with the mayor to get this done because I knew it will have a positive impact for decades to come for Ward F. This investment will reinvigorate our area to boost the local economy and help push crime further down.”
The new headquarters will include the city’s first-ever Police and Fire Recruitment Center and a new police and fire museum designed for school visits. It will give students information about both departments and empower Jersey City’s youth to consider a future career as a first responder.
Investing in the area
Investment firm Brandywine will build the facility and lease it back to the city in a 25-to-30-year agreement, at the end of which the city would be able to purchase the property for $1.
According to council documents authorizing the lease/ purchase agreement, the city would pay $4,599,996 each year for the first three years before it would increase to $6,553,832 and gradually increase every year thereafter.
“We are very proud to be partners with a City that has great leadership and vision from its mayor to the council and administration,” said Eric Moore, president of Brandywine Financial Services. “As a company policy, we pride ourselves on delivering these projects on time, and in fact delivered two of the projects ahead of schedule. In addition, it was very important to us personally to have met minority participation requirements in all three phases.”
The city will save $350,000 per year on rent for the current Police Department Headquarters in Journal Square.
The city will be able to sell Fire Headquarters, South Street Fire Union Offices, and the Gong Club for an estimated revenue of $30 million.
These properties will go back on the tax rolls every year, contributing to the city and school budget.
“With every Jackson Square building we start construction on, we’re expanding upon the Administration’s pledge to keep moving development to the areas most in need of economic revitalization,” said Council President Joyce Watterman.
The new Public Safety HQ is scheduled to be completed in 2022.