Bayonne has further advanced plans to construct a new public housing building in the city, estimated at approximately $10 million.
The City Council has introduced an ordinance that would adopt an amended 8th Street Station Rehabilitation Plan to allow for the senior and supportive housing building at its July 20 meeting.
The building would be six stories tall with 40 units. Of the 40, 20 units would be for senior housing and 20 would be for supportive housing for developmentally disabled residents. Parking would encompass the first two floors, with the remaining floors for the units.
First new public housing in over a decade
The 8th Street Station Rehabilitation Area Plan was previously adopted by the City Council in March of 2015, encompassing a one-mile area around the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail Station at 8th Street. The plan included a Scattered Site Rehabilitation Plan for various lots, including those located at 7 Oak Street.
In 2018, the Bayonne Housing Authority purchased the remediated property from Public Service Electric & Gas (PSEG). The site is currently vacant, surrounded by residential uses, with the odd commercial use, and Route 440 to the rear of the property.
Meanwhile, other land adjacent to the site is still not ready to be remediated and are still owned by PSEG. The site is historically contaminated, being the Hobart Classification Plant from the 1800s through the 1900s.
The vision for the area is multi-family housing and a community park on both this site and the other PSEG-owned site across the street. Officials have implied the park may occur in the future once PSEG cleans up the site on the other side of the road.
While the project remained stagnant for some time, talk of it resurfaced ahead of the May 2022 non-partisan municipal election at the first mayoral debate with criticism by former City Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski, who was running for mayor against Mayor James Davis at the time. While she chided Davis for the stalled project, he hit back at the second mayoral debate that the Oak Street project was in the works as well as another potentially on Avenue C.
Plans now moving forward
In February of 2022, the City Council authorized the Planning Board to re-open the 8th Street Station Rehabilitation Plan to amend it and or authorize the preparation of a subarea redevelopment plan for the Oak Street site and other areas of the plan along Avenue C.
In June of this year, the Planning Board adopted a resolution recommending the amendments to the 8th Street Rehabilitation Plan for the Housing Authority project. The board concluded the Amended Rehabilitation Subarea Plan was consistent with the city’s Master Plan.
At the council’s June meeting, it adopted a resolution “finding and determining that the Supportive Housing and Senior Affordable Housing building commonly known as the Oak Court West Property Project proposed by the Bayonne Housing Authority meets or will meet an existing housing need.”
Since June, nothing major in the plan has changed. However, efforts to increase the size of the building by Ashe-Nadrowski have been rejected.
Previously, she sought to increase the number of units from 40 to 60 or 70, and the number of stories from six to 10. While the Planning Board voted to leave the wording in their resolution to allow for a maximum of 60 or 70 units and 10 stories, it appears the city is still pursuing 40 units and six stories.
That height and unit density is the most cost-effective and realistic for the project, Housing Authority officials said. Estimated at $10 million, the Housing Authority is looking to cover the cost of the project in part through a Low-Income Housing Tax Credit.
Much-needed senior and supportive housing
The efforts to add more public housing in Bayonne are much needed. The last new construction of such a building was in 2009, following the completion of the Roberson West homes sold to new homebuyers.
The waitlist for senior housing is beyond backed up, underscoring the need for the project. In addition, many developmentally disabled residents are now at the age where they need housing.
The project uniquely caters to Bayonne’s public housing needs. The six-story and 40 unit building may not qualm the need for such projects in Bayonne, but the Bayonne Housing Authority is frequently searching for new sites for potentially projects.
A public hearing and vote on the ordinance is set for the City Council’s next meeting in August. The council will meet on August 17 at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall at 630 Avenue C. For more information, go to bayonnenj.org.
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