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Proposed 17-story building near The Beacon has residents concerned

The building will require variances from the height and use zoning codes

The Beacon is a mixed-use development located on 14-acre site on Bergen Hill. Photo taken by: Jordan Coll

A proposal for a new high-rise apartment building designed to blend into The Beacon apartments, a group of Art Deco landmark buildings that were the former Jersey City Medical Center built during the Great Depression, must first overcome several zoning hurdles.

The Beacon is listed under the National Register of Historic Places and the New Jersey Register of Historic Places. Earlier this year, Jersey City’s Historic Preservation Commission held a virtual meeting to discuss a proposal for the new building.

GRO Architects, a New York based architectural firm contracted by Jones Hall Associates, designed the proposed 17-story 203 foot tall building at 591 Montgomery St. and submitted the application to the city’s planning and zoning boards.

Richard Garber, a partner at the firm who presented modified plans for the property at 593 Montgomery St., also introduced additional proposed plans for 591 Montgomery St. as reported by the Jersey Digs on Oct. 5 of this year.

According to the zoning tabulation chart filed for the project summary by GRO the new project would include new medical facilities, a garage with structured parking and 75 spaces (49 residential and 26 existing in Jones Hall), and the remainder of the tower would be 98 new apartment units. 

In addition, the proposal would divide the property into two lots, keeping intact an existing building and adding the new building, in addition to a 5,600-square foot park.

Resident concerns

Robert Stein, along with other residents who attended two community meetings this year related to the project, said he voiced concerns about clear deviations from the city’s zoning regulations in reviewing their proposals, but the firm “remained silent,” recalled Stein at the first meeting held in January.

The 17-story building exceeds the permitted height under the zoning which allows a maximum of eight stories (110 feet) as cited in the zoning report, so it would require a variance allowing the greater height. The project would also require a use variance because of the medical facility.

 “The proposals are in clear violation of a majority of zoning ordinances provided by the city,” said Stein. A petition has been put out called Save Jersey City’s National Historical Treasure in response to the proposed building.

Jennifer Porter who is a real estate lawyer for Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi PC confirmed to the Hudson Reporter that a revised proposal had been submitted to HPC, after hearing the concerns at the second meeting. 

HPC, which has advisory review rights over the application can either approve or deny the proposal to the city’s zoning board. The HPC is limited as it can only serve as an advisory board which is not binding to the historical site under federal and state law.

“After reviewing the plans and speaking with residents at the Beacon, I agree with the residents that this project is not appropriate,” said Councilwoman Mira Prinz-Arey. “Just because you can build something doesn’t mean you should.”

The next meeting is scheduled to take place on Dec.12 according to their agenda listed on the Historic Preservation Commission site.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Jordan Coll can be reached at jcoll@hudsonreporter.com.

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