Calling it the most significant, transformational project downtown since Newport, Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop and the Jersey City Housing Authority on Thursday announced plans to revitalize the Holland Gardens public housing complex with what they are calling an unprecedented vision to include 50% affordable housing.
The announcement was the follow-up to the unanimous vote by the JCHA board of commissioners on Wednesday night to select Winn Development to carry out Jersey City’s ambitious plan for the redevelopment of the 80-year-old public housing complex.
The winning proposal, which used input from Holland Gardens residents throughout the entire process, expands the already ambitious plans to redevelop Holland Gardens into a model mixed-income, mixed-finance and mixed-use community. It not only preserves all 192 existing public housing units with a right of return for current residents, but also expands affordability by adding 74 new affordable units for seniors, 309 market-rate units and 56 two-bedroom condos — half of which will be affordable for families earning between 60% and 120% of the area median income.
Originally built in 1944, all five existing low-rise Holland Gardens buildings will be demolished and redeveloped. Current Holland Gardens residents will be provided with relocation services during construction, with a right to return once the new buildings are habitable.
The four buildings approved under the updated Holland Gardens Revitalization Plan include the following:
- 74 affordable units set aside for seniors on fixed incomes.
For Sale Condominium Building
- 56 homeownership units, half of which will be affordable.
Retail and Community Building
- 14,000-square-foot community space;
- 12,000-square-foot public library branch, including media center;
- 2,000-square-foot office for JCHA’s Resident Empowerment and Community Engagement Department.
North Residential Tower
- 192 public housing units and 309 market-rate units.
Fulop said getting to this point was quite a challenge, as the parties involved had to figure out the finances based on the challenges at the federal and state level for new public housing.
The project is estimated to cost $500 million.
“This is a big deal for us,” he tweeted.
And, potentially, for others. Fulop feels it could be the new model for affordable housing.
“The old model for public housing wasn’t ideal,” he tweeted. “True mixed-income communities that focus on equity, opportunity and lifting people up is the model for the future.”
The revitalization project will add a 14,000-square-foot community building with a brand-new Jersey City Free Public Library branch inside. It also will house offices for the JCHA’s Resident Empowerment and Community Engagement Department, which partners with dozens of community organizations to connect residents with resources and programming, including afterschool programs, workforce development, senior services and a digital inclusion program that has garnered national recognition.
“As housing affordability and public housing shortages reach crisis levels across the nation, in Jersey City, we are punching above our weight once again to increase affordability and provide pivotal, life-changing opportunities to help our residents achieve financial stability and self-sufficiency,” he said. “Nearly half of the new units will be affordable housing with the addition of on-site services that are designed to fit the needs of our underserved residents who traditionally have limited accessibility. This redevelopment project is all-encompassing, and it serves as the standard bearer for what innovative public housing initiatives can accomplish.”
In addition, the redevelopment project will create approximately 1,000 jobs, with prioritization for local hiring and minority- and women-owned businesses.
Every unit will be built equally in terms of the design and finishes, to ensure residents of all income levels can equally experience high-quality, equitable living with amenities such as in-unit dishwashers, and washer and dryer units.
The plan, which includes green energy and sustainable building practices, will also transform the surrounding neighborhood by reconnecting 15th Street, creating a vibrant pedestrian plaza to foster community by adding amenities for all residents and the surrounding neighborhood.
Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-Jersey City), who has served as chairman of the Jersey City Housing Authority for 15 years, said the project meets the vision and the mission of the authority.
“The JCHA’s mission encompasses serving not just our current residents, but low- and extremely-low-income residents throughout Jersey City,” he said. “This groundbreaking project not only provides 1:1 replacement of all public housing at the site, but also significantly expands affordability, opportunity and resource accessibility for residents citywide.”
The $500 million project will provide approximately $28 million in ground lease payments to the JCHA over the next 30 years. Resident services payments to the JCHA totaling $10 million will support the work of its RECE Department. PILOT payments totaling $61 million over the next 30 years, including $20 million in Redevelopment Area Bond repayment and $10 million in RAB interest, will circulate back into the community to strengthen and expand Jersey City’s affordable housing stock and critical services to help residents in need.
“Winn Cos. is honored to be selected to bring the reimagined Holland Gardens to life,” CEO Gilbert Winn said. “We look forward to partnering with the tenants, the housing authority and the city to develop a mixed-income and mixed-use community that will foster economic opportunity and connection to resident services and be a beautiful place to call home.”