The weather is getting warmer in New York and the flowers are blooming. That’s why we felt that now is the perfect time to post about a park! Or rather, the potential of a park.
A proposal is being discussed for a linear park in Jersey City’s Historic Downtown. As with most discussions related to eminent domain, it’s on again- off again - on again. Earlier this month a study was made public which states that Jersey City’s planning division determined that the Embankment-- a stretch of elevated land where officials hope to build parkland--could be designated for redevelopment. Eminent Domain is not off the table, if that is what is required to make this park a reality.
The study revealed the possibility that the City could condemn parcels of land as part of a plan to create a linear park-after negotiations with stakeholders fell through months ago. Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop has said that he is committed to making it happen. For several years, Jersey City officials and open space advocates have been hoping to build a park on the Embankment.
Inspired by Manhattan’s High Line, Jersey City officials and open space advocates hope to build an elevated rails-to-trails park stretching from Marin Boulevard to Brunswick Street. City officials have proposed to build a light rail line atop the elevated segments of land in the more distant future. The area is a half-mile long stretch of abandoned rail track.
Under a proposed agreement, Albanese Organization, a New York City developer, would cover the costs of the property transaction in exchange for the right to build two market-rate residential high-rises on the easternmost section of the Embankment land. Albanese would also put $11.5 million toward developing a trail and parkland on the other blocks.
Negotiations have gone on for years between the city and Embankment stakeholders Victoria Hyman and the railroad company Conrail. Things were going well until Conrail “abruptly” pulled out of the deal. No one is really sure of the reason why.
But it isn’t’ over yet. In the study, the City determined that “a lawful basis exists for declaring” one segment of the Embankment land a “condemnation area in need of redevelopment” and the rest a “non-condemnation area in need of redevelopment.” That means that if enacted, those designations could allow the city to seize the westernmost section of the land through eminent domain and put in place development policies for other sections. It would include issuing tax abatements or a Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program.
Mayor Fulop declined to provide a detailed plan for the land, saying he could not “get into the strategies of our litigation.” Apparently, U.S. Reps. Donald Payne and Albio Sires were involved “at the federal level,” and the City intends to use all the tools at its disposal.
Are there greener pastures for Jersey City ahead? We shall see. Keep following us for more eminent domain news!