The Jersey City Housing Authority has tapped WinnDevelopment to spearhead the redevelopment of the Holland Gardens public housing complex, in a plan that would preserve all 192 existing public housing units with a right of return for current residents, while adding 74 new affordable units for seniors, 309 market-rate units and 56 two-bedroom condos. — Rendering courtesy: Jersey City
By Joshua Burd
More than 600 new apartments and condominiums are coming to the site of an 80-year-old public housing complex in Jersey City, officials said, under a plan that would include both lower-income and market-rate units and a new branch of the city’s public library.
The $500 million project, announced last week by Mayor Steven M. Fulop and the Jersey City Housing Authority, would revitalize the Holland Gardens property about a half-mile west of the Holland Tunnel. The authority’s board has tapped WinnDevelopment to spearhead the plan, noting that it would preserve all 192 existing public housing units with a right of return for current residents, while adding 74 new affordable units for seniors, 309 market-rate units and 56 two-bedroom condos, half of which will be reserved for families earning between 60 and 120 percent of the area median income.
The announcement followed a unanimous vote by the housing authority’s board of commissioners to select WinnDevelopment for the four-building project, following input from Holland Gardens residents throughout the process, according to a news release. All five existing low-rise Holland Gardens buildings will be demolished and redeveloped.
“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,” Fulop 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.”
The plan would transform the dated public housing complex along 16th Street between Jersey Avenue and Erie Street, as development flourishes in the nearby downtown and a host of other neighborhoods. According to the city, 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, while the plan also includes green energy and sustainable building practices.
What’s more, the project would reconnect 15th Street, creating a vibrant pedestrian plaza to foster community by adding amenities for all residents and the surrounding neighborhood, the news release said. It would also create a 14,000-square-foot community building with a new Jersey City Free Public Library branch inside, along with 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.
“The JCHA’s mission encompasses serving not just our current residents, but low- and extremely-low-income residents throughout Jersey City,” said state Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, who has served as JCHA chairman for 15 years. “This groundbreaking project not only provides one-to-one replacement of all public housing at the site, but also significantly expands affordability, opportunity and resource accessibility for residents citywide.”
The updated Holland Gardens Revitalization Plan includes one building each for the senior housing and condo units, plus a third for the retail and community space, the news release said. The fourth building, the North Residential Tower, would include 192 public housing units and 309 market-rate units.
The redevelopment is slated to create some 1,000 jobs, with prioritization for local hiring and minority- and women-owned businesses.
“WinnCompanies is honored to be selected to bring the re-imagined Holland Gardens to life,” said Gilbert Winn, the firm’s CEO. “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.”
The news follows a plan that involved Holland Gardens residents starting in 2019, when the JCHA sponsored a six-month charrette process, the news release said. It also held ongoing community meetings to provide information and, for the first time, included a resident to serve as a voting member on its evaluation committee.
“This is the first time a resident has been part of the procurement process, and we as residents worked hand-in-hand with the Housing Authority,” said Bernadine Taylor, a Holland Gardens resident who serves as a resident representative and voting member on the committee. “In this plan, they made sure to fit our needs as residents, specifically for the seniors. When they gave us a choice to live in the new senior building or stay in the parcels that was a big plus to me.”
The $500 million project will provide roughly $28 million in ground lease payments to the JCHA over the next 30 years, the city said. WinnCompanies will pay PILOT payments totaling $61 million over the next 30 years, including $20 million in Redevelopment Area Bond repayment and $10 million in interest, that will circulate back into the community to strengthen and expand the city’s affordable housing stock and critical services.
Additionally, resident services payments to the JCHA totaling $10 million will support the work of its Resident Empowerment and Community Engagement Department, which partners with dozens of community organizations to connect residents with after-school programs, workforce development, senior services and a digital inclusion program that has garnered national recognition.
“By working closely Holland Gardens residents, listening to their concerns and their dreams, the JCHA co-created a transformative vision with them to attract public-private investment that not only benefits public housing residents who will return to a new, revitalized home, but also enriches the surrounding neighborhood,” JCHA Executive Director Vivian Brady-Phillips said. “We believe this project will improve opportunities for residents who have made Holland Gardens their home and for generations to come.”