The McGinley Square East Redevelopment Plan was unanimously introduced by the City Council last night, finally paving the way for â€œthe shovel to hit the ground,â€ as council president Peter Brennan put it.
The ambitious plan to redevelop McGinley Square began inauspiciously when residents in the area received letters warning that their property might be seized via eminent domain to acquire land for the projectâ€™s developers. The angry and shocked residents demanded the city drop eminent domain from the redevelopment plan.
The city listened and said it was changing course, although the mayor maintains it was never his intention to utilize eminent domain, but the specter of a land grab hung over the deal until the areaâ€™s designation was changed from in need of â€œredevelopmentâ€ to in need of â€œrehabilitation,â€ legally eliminating the possibility of eminent domain.
At Tuesdayâ€™s meeting, the council thanked the residents for their input.
â€œThis is not a perfect plan, but â€¦ it went 360 degrees from where it started,â€ Ward F councilwoman Viola Richardson said. â€œItâ€™s because people like you said â€˜enough is enoughâ€™ and â€˜we want some say about what will happen to us.â€™â€
At-Large Councilman Ray Velazquez, with a nod to the $15 million land sale that recently fell apart for the property behind the Jersey City Medical Center, said he was glad the project was finally moving forward.
â€œI donâ€™t want anything to happen with these investors, so letâ€™s not waste any more time,â€ he said.
And Ward B Councilman David Donnelly, calling the area the â€œgateway to the rest of the city,â€ noted that he was happy to see new development finally moving away from the waterfront and to the rest of the city.
A public hearing and final vote on the plan is scheduled for the October 12 council meeting. After that, the developer of the site would be able to begin its work.
The developerâ€™s proposal calls for 370,000 square feet of new retail space, 230,000 square feet of new office space, five residential towers, a 150-room hotel and an entertainment center featuring a new movie theater. It would also expand McGinley Square park and create two new pedestrian-only thoroughfares, which the developer envisions as being lined with retail shops, restaurants and bars. (One would run from Tuers to Jordan Avenues in between Montgomery and Mercer Streets, and the other would run from Nevins Street to Monticello Avenue between Storms Avenue and Orchard Street.)
Assuming things go as the developer plans, this multi-phase project would break ground next August, with the bulk of the development completed by the summer or fall of 2016.