Historic Decision in Jersey City: 35% Affordable Housing at Bayfront with Union Labor

Bayfront Redevelopment Project

Hudson County News: Jersey City Pioneers a New Era of Affordable Housing

JERSEY CITY, NJ – In a groundbreaking move, Jersey City’s Bayfront Redevelopment Project is setting a new standard for urban development across the nation. The City Council, in collaboration with various stakeholders, has unanimously approved a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) that will pave the way for 35% affordable housing with union labor. This decision is not just a local milestone but stands as a beacon for other urban areas grappling with affordable housing challenges.

Mayor Steven M. Fulop, reflecting on the city’s journey, remarked, “As promised when I became Mayor, we moved away from decades-old practices of harmful overreliance on tax abatements and still achieved unprecedented progress, leading Jersey City through one of the greatest renaissances this City has ever seen.” This statement underscores the city’s commitment to breaking away from traditional practices that may not have always served the community’s best interests.

The Bayfront project, strategically located along the Hackensack River, is more than just a housing initiative. It’s a vision for a more robust economic future, drawing attention and investment, especially to the south and west areas of Jersey City. Mayor Fulop further highlighted the project’s broader impact, noting, “Bayfront serves as a model for smart growth and expanding affordability for the region and is a prime example of appropriately utilizing tax abatements to meet a community’s needs.” He also emphasized the city’s intention to allocate a portion of the tax revenues to bolster public schools, showcasing a holistic approach to community development.

Annisia Cialone, HEDC Director, provided clarity on the purpose of PILOTs, stating, “PILOTs are not granted just to pay less tax, but rather to pay a tax that the builder can predict in order to get the financing they need to achieve the City’s requirements, in this case, 35% affordable housing.” This perspective reframes PILOTs not as a mere tax break but as a strategic tool to achieve community-driven goals.

The commitment to affordable housing isn’t a recent endeavor for Jersey City. Diane Maxon from New Jersey Together Housing Team shed light on the city’s long-standing involvement, saying, “Jersey City Together, through our predecessor organization, Interfaith Community Organization (ICO), has been directly involved with the Bayfront Project for over 30 years. It was ICO’s efforts that brought about the cleanup of the property so that housing could be built there.” This statement highlights the collaborative and persistent efforts spanning decades to bring the Bayfront vision to life.

In 2018, the city took a decisive step by acquiring the 100-acre Bayfront property from the Honeywell Corporation. This move allowed the city to increase the affordable housing requirement from a mere 5% to an ambitious 35%. Diana Jeffrey, JCRA Executive Director, encapsulated the significance of this project, asserting, “This level of affordability is unheard of, especially in the private sector. This project is an example of environmental justice and how a municipality can bring about change and promote progress in partnership with affordable housing advocates, community activists, and residents.”

In conclusion, the Bayfront Redevelopment Project is not just a testament to Jersey City’s commitment to affordable housing but also a shining example of what collaborative, community-driven efforts can achieve. As urban areas across the nation grapple with housing challenges, Jersey City’s Bayfront stands as a beacon of hope and a model worth emulating.