Yesterday, November 16, New York’s SWA Group finalized a sprawling master plan that will transform 100 acres of formerly industrial Jersey City waterfront along the Hackensack River. Under the Bayfront Redevelopment Area Open Space Master Plan, SWA has laid out a complex network of parkland, promenades, marshes, and even a beach to front the 8,000 residential units planned for the forthcoming Bayfront neighborhood. SWA was an integral part of the Master Plan and Design team led by Perkins Eastman.
The stretch of shorefront had been tainted with chromium, a known carcinogen that’s also integral to the steel-making process, as a byproduct of chrome ore refining. Mutual Chemical Company, through three riverside factories, dumped chromium slag for decades at the site, rendering it uninhabitable. Fast forward to 2006, when the Honeywell Corporation, which eventually purchased Mutual, agreed to pay $10 million towards capping the 34 acres of chromium-tainted land as a result of a settlement brought by Jersey City residents. In 2008, Jersey City and Honeywell agreed on a remediation plan for the site where the company would take full responsibility and clean up the chromium from the soil and cap over the affected areas, including the sewer pipes to prevent drinking water contamination. The city then passed the Bayfront Redevelopment Plan and allocated $170 million in bonds to fund the project’s construction.
With the site’s history and engineering requirements in mind, SWA’s Bayfront Open Space Master Plan seeks to let Jersey City residents enjoy a waterfront that’s been denied to them for well over 100 years. (Mutual dumped chrome ore slag along the waterfront from the early 1900s until finally shuttering its processing plant in 1954.) After collecting feedback from western Jersey City residents, the Bayfront Advisory Committee community group, and city and state agencies such as the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency; Jersey City Department of Housing, Economic Development & Commerce; NJDOT, and NJDEP, SWA’s final master plan blends accessible public amenities with stormwater and flood mitigation measures.
That includes two linear parks, Central Park and Promenade Park, running east-to-west to the edge of the river on top of the subterranean caps, a shorefront park that will run the length of the water’s edge, an urban beach adjacent to a stretch of wetlands, a pier, a kayak dock, and plenty of activity spaces. Central Park has been designated as the main pedestrian and cycling thoroughfare and will contain sports courts, a lengthy “playscape,” an adult fitness field, a multiuse field, and an additional play lawn. The Promenade Park, by contrast, will contain meadows and a length of gardens planted with native landscaping. The half-mile-long Waterfront Park is described by SWA as the plan’s centerpiece, as it will connect with the Hackensack River and hold the Point, a plaza with public amenities (and food trucks, according to the renderings). An overlook on the opposite end will gradually rise and give the public sweeping views of the park and surrounding city.
SWA noted that they were assisted in assembling the plan by Perkins Eastman, Moffat & Nichol, BRS Inc, and Greener by Design.
The city has locked in two private developers to begin work at the Bayfront site, which, when fully complete will hold 340,000 square feet of commercial office space in addition to the aforementioned 8,000 residences, 35 percent of which will be earmarked as affordable. Although the Bayfront site spans 100 acres, open public space will only occupy 19, and light rail and water taxi services are also planned for the project. The first phase will build out four development parcels across 16 acres and include a 2-block stretch of Promenade Park. No estimated completion date has been made public at the time of writing.