A New Vision for Journal Square

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December 2008
Volume 4, Number 3

Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy announced an ambitious plan in mid-October to transform the city’s Journal Square once again into a thriving, pedestrian-friendly commercial center. Known as “Vision Journal Square,” the plan puts forth a bold concept for the area around the transit hub, calling for the creation of parks, pedestrian walkways, plazas, housing and commercial development. Designated as a transit village by the NJDOT in 2005, Journal Square is one of the city’s transit and commercial hubs and is anchored by a major stop on the PATH rail transit system and a bus station, serving 8 million rail and bus passengers annually. But Journal Square is also home to numerous surface-level parking lots, traffic congestion, and struggling businesses. Mayor Healy hopes to remake Journal Square into a national icon of sustainable design and transit-oriented development, revitalizing the city’s economy. The Loew’s Theater, a Journal Square landmark, will be one of a number of historic structures that will remain.

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Computer renderings of Vision Journal Square

Source: A. Nelessen Associates, Inc.

Specifically, Vision Journal Square calls for the creation of nine acres of parks, pedestrian walkways, and open plazas, as well as more than 10,000 new residential units and millions of square feet of commercial space within the 244-acre site. Highlights of the plan include renovation of the PATH station and the creation of a two-mile greenway connecting Journal Square with the city’s redeveloped waterfront—creating the longest continuous urban walkway in the nation. Since about 40 percent of city residents use transit and another 9 percent walk to work, Healy believes Jersey City is an ideal location for transit-oriented development. In an attempt to diversify transit opportunities, the plan calls for the extension of Hudson-Bergen Light Rail service to the PATH station.

The city commissioned A. Nelessen Associates, Inc. and Dean Marchetto Architects P.C. to develop the concept, which relied heavily on public input including a community survey.  According to this plan, the only motorized traffic to be allowed in Journal Square would be buses and taxis. Nelessen intends to focus on the pedestrian aspects of the plan, placing the highest priority on improving access to transit and walkable, mixed-use development.

Officials declined to give an overall cost estimate, but hope that funding will come from public-private partnerships in addition to tax abatements to encourage private investment. The entire effort could take 15 years to complete. Redevelopment of Journal Square properties is already in the works. As cited in the January 2008 issue of the newsletter, groundbreaking for the Journal Square City Center Towers is planned for spring 2009. The mixed-use residential skyscrapers will contain 1,600 rental units in addition to multiple stories of retail and parking. The 68-story North Tower is expected to be completed before the 50-story South Tower, with the first units available in 2010.

 
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