Planning Board approves amendments for potential Paulus Hook project

The changes could allow for a two-tower development near the neighborhood

Sussex Street Associates is looking create a two tower development near the Paulus Hook neighborhood. Image via Fogarty Finger via Planning Board application.

The Jersey City Planning Board has approved amendments for the Tidewater Basin Redevelopment Plan that could pave the way for a new 401-unit development near the Paulus Hook neighborhood in Downtown.

Sussex Street Associates petitioned for the changes, to create their new development on 177 Grand St., with a 26-story building on Grand St. and Marin Blvd., and a 16-story building on Sussex and Van Vorst St.. The two buildings would be connected by a four-story base building shaped like a Z.

The proposed amendments began back in late May, when the City Council approved a resolution authorizing the board to prepare changes to the redevelopment plan.

The amendments would add an Inclusionary Housing Overlay District to allow the construction of mixed income housing, with representatives from Sussex saying that the owner is willing to set aside 15 percent for affordable housing, which would be about 60 units, to comply with the new inclusionary zoning ordinance.

Edward Kolling, a professional planner, said that each half of the amount of affordable units would be for moderate and lower income units each, and that eight of the lower income units would be for very low income families.

“There are not a lot of potential locations to provide affordable housing in downtown neighborhoods,” he said. “This is one site that is available with the potential to provide this needed affordable housing Downtown as identified in the Master Plan.”

The amendments would also permit the maximum height for any building on Grand St. and Sussex St. to be 300 and 190 feet tall respectively, which would be enough to accommodate the heights of the proposed buildings in said locations at 275 and 178 feet tall respectively.

During their presentation, board attorney Santo Alampi had voiced confusion on whether or not Lot 10 is part of the redevelopment plan, to which Supervising Planner Matt Ward looked up and concluded that it was a split zone decision.

Alampai said that they can do a floor amendment to state that it only affects those lots and portions that are within the redevelopment plan. After having a small recess to look the matter, the board and the applicants decided to continue with the application.

During public comments, most of the people who spoke were against the potential development, including how the height could affect the area.

“I feel that no one’s actually spoken about the lack of light that will come from those tall buildings that cast the shadows onto, especially those brown stones that are across the street on Van Vorst Street,” said resident Jeffrey Gerlinger. “I don’t know if I will be affected, but I know that any number of houses around there will be.”

Diane Kaese, the president of the Historic Paulus Hook Association who had previously voiced opposition to the amendment proposals, had asked how adding 400 units in the neighborhood would add to their school and traffic problems and called the plans “not appropriate.”

“We asked to have a conversation about this property prior to the proposed changes to the plan,” she said. “Instead, we were presented with amendments written by the developer and long ago blessed by planning. When do we get them? We got them when they were placed on the portal.”

After public comments, the board voted 5-0 to approve the amendments and send them to the City Council for introduction and potential adoption.

“I think I definitely concur with planning staffs’ recommendations,” said Chairman Christopher Langston. “It does meet a number of our Master Plan goals that were recently adopted.”

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