A rendering of Jersey City’s new 11-story, 120,000-square-foot public safety building at 358 Martin Luther King Drive — Courtesy: Jersey City
By Joshua Burd
Construction is underway on a new $120 million public safety headquarters in Jersey City, the latest piece of a growing municipal district in one of the city’s historic neighborhoods.
Mayor Steven Fulop joined city council members and other stakeholders last week to break ground on the 11-story, 120,000-square-foot building at 358 Martin Luther King Drive. Located within the city’s Bergen-Lafayette section, the project is slated for completion in 2022, when it will join three other new governmental buildings.
“When I took office, the city of Jersey City was renting office space in random separate buildings along the waterfront,” Fulop said. “I decided that we can do better. So, we started to build a municipal complex on the south side of the city that would be state-of-the-art, it would be near mass transit to be easily accessible to everyone in the city, it would have all city services in one place, and it would bring thousands of jobs to an area that needs the investment. That is exactly what we have achieved.”
Jersey City has now invested some $200 million in what it calls the Jackson Square campus, according to a news release. The district is also home to new offices for the city’s departments of Health and Human Services and Housing, Economic Development and Commerce, along with the Division of Housing Preservation and the Jersey City Employment and Training Program.
The public safety building will be the tallest within the new civic center, with 11 floors of municipal offices, conference rooms and a communications center that includes 911 dispatch, the news release said. Jersey City’s first-ever police and fire recruitment center will also be established in conjunction with a new police and fire museum designed for educational school visits to provide students with information about both departments and empower Jersey City’s youth to consider a future career as a first responder.
“This is a win for Ward F residents and the city at large,” Ward F Councilman Jermaine Robinson Ward said. “I worked closely with the mayor to get this done because I knew it will have a positive impact for decades to come for Ward F. This investment will reinvigorate our area to boost the local economy and help push crime further down.”
The public safety building will also be the new home of the city’s Community Court and Parking Enforcement Division, the news release said. All of Jersey City’s police and fire operations and leadership personnel will be relocated, including fire prevention, parking enforcement, special investigations, gun permits, records room, traffic programming and city command.
“Relocating our dispatch operations will rework our 911 call system to eliminate steps, resulting in faster emergency services and response times where every second counts,” Public Safety Director James Shea said. “We continue to examine and identify ways we can improve upon our crime reduction strategies — which has resulted in historical decreases in crime and nationally recognized emergency response times — and we expect these newly streamlined operations to contribute even more.”
Brandywine Services Corp. of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, is developing the complex.
“We are very proud to be partners with a city that has great leadership and vision from its mayor to the council and administration,” said Eric Moore, Brandywine’s president. “As a company policy, we pride ourselves in delivering these projects on time, and in fact delivered two of the projects ahead of schedule. In addition, it was very important to us personally to have met minority participation requirements in all three phases.”
The city said it will save $350,000 annually on rent for its current police headquarters in the Journal Square neighborhood. It will also be able to sell its fire headquarters, South Street Fire Union offices and the Gong Club for a total estimated revenue of $30 million, noting that those properties will then go back on the tax rolls.
“With every Jackson Square building we start construction on, we’re expanding upon the administration’s pledge to keep moving development to the areas most in need of economic revitalization,” Council President Joyce Watterman said.
The first phase of the Jackson Square hub opened in fall 2018.