Jersey City, Kushner Cos. reach agreement — One Journal Square project back on

Two-tower project, expected to begin construction in 2021, will include 52 stories dedicated to residential units above a 12-story base for retail and parking

The city of Jersey City and the Kushner Cos. have settled their disagreements, dropped their lawsuits and finally will proceed with One Journal Square, a transformative two-tower rental project that has been in litigation since 2018.

According to a release from Jersey City, the agreement includes settlement and ultimate dismissal of all litigation among the city of Jersey City, the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency and Kushner Cos. More specifically, the agreement settles lawsuits brought by Kushner Cos. in 2018, in conjunction with the execution of an updated and intensely negotiated redevelopment agreement.

The settlement does not include a tax abatement — something Jersey City has not granted in nearly four years. The abatement was one of the biggest points of contention.

With this settlement and the new development agreement, both parties will now move forward to begin the construction of two 64-story towers in the heart of Journal Square. News of the agreement was first reported by the Associated Press.

“This has always been about what is best for our taxpayers and Jersey City,” Mayor Steve Fulop said.  “Fortunately, after many years and many prior developers who left this property to stagnate, the city’s great team and Kushner Cos. have been able to set aside their differences and collaborate to reach common ground. Now this long-delayed and much-awaited project can move forward.”

Eugene Paolino, counsel to Kushner Cos., said the agreement serves the interests of all.

“Let’s be clear: The citizens of Jersey City are the winners here,” he said in the statement. “Kushner Cos. is eager and ready to move forward shoulder-to-shoulder with Mayor Fulop and the people of the great city of Jersey City, and get to work building this landmark development to advance the revitalization of Journal Square.”

Fulop called the area one of the most unique and busiest transportation hubs in the region.

The project, which is expected to begin construction in 2021, will include a 10-level parking garage for residents. Each of the two towers will consist of 52 stories dedicated to residential units above a 12-story base building that contains ground floor retail space, amenity space, additional residential uses, and structured parking.

The project, however, is different than originally proposed. It’s slightly shorter — the towers have been reduced from 758 to 710 feet, and five stories of office space and one story of retail space will be replaced with residential space. The project also is removing the WeWork and WeLive concepts — two ideas that figure to have less appeal in post-pandemic.

Expanding upon original negotiations that began in 2014, the updated redevelopment agreement includes a $2.5 million investment in local arts initiatives and will require the developer to focus on hiring locally, including local workforce sessions to further local residents’ development and opportunities.

Jersey City Council President Joyce Watterman said the agreement is great for the city.

“This is a big win for all involved,” she said. “I’m pleased we were able to reach an agreement to further build upon the city’s revitalization efforts in Journal Square, as we can finally start construction on this property, which has sat vacant for far too long, and provide the opportunities to the local workforce that is critical now more than ever before.”

JCRA Director Diana Jeffrey agreed.

“The JCRA is pleased to have this matter come to a satisfactory resolution,” she said. “With this settlement, the renaissance of Journal Square can continue.”