Working for Smart Growth:
More Livable Places and Open Spaces

 

A Brand-New Neighborhood, Ready for Growth


Project Name
:Gloria Robinson Court Homes, Jersey City
Transformation of obsolete and deteriorating public housing towers into a community that includes housing, school and social service facilities

Partners: Jersey City Housing Authority, Ingerman, Pennrose Properties, Kitchen & Associates


The Gloria Robinson Court Homes in Jersey City are one part of the A. Harry Moore HOPE VI Revitalization Plan, a sweeping effort to redevelop obsolete and deteriorating public housing throughout the city. Unlike such projects elsewhere in the city, however, this was in a neighborhood on the west side that was not yet seeing the redevelopment pressure that neighborhoods closer to the Hudson River were experiencing. And therein lay both a challenge and an opportunity.

The project, which would replace seven 1950s-era red brick towers containing more than 650 units of public housing, took 12 years to bring to fruition. Residents who were displaced by the work were provided voucher assistance in finding housing elsewhere in the city, and were given first preference to apply to return when the project was completed. (Because of the duration of the development, many former residents chose not to return, preferring to remain in their new neighborhoods.) The new community is a mixed-income neighborhood of 274 homes that blend well with the surrounding architecture, along with a Head Start facility, a 12-workstation computer center, and other community and supportive services. The street grid was recreated and the new neighborhood was reconnected with the rest of the city.

The challenge, and the opportunity, was that the city’s revitalization continues to push inexorably westward. Without careful planning, this new neighborhood would run the risk of being subsumed and ultimately displaced by the very forces of revitalization that were intended to benefit it. Instead, the project was planned so that the new Gloria Robinson Court Homes would remain as a stronghold of affordable, mixed-income housing that would both gain from and contribute to the anticipated future growth.

The project achieves this in two primary ways: First, design standards were established that meant that new construction, whether it be low-rise or mid-rise, would match and enhance the traditional Jersey City architectural norms in the surrounding neighborhood and solidify the project’s role as an asset rather than an impediment to further redevelopment. The removal of the public-housing super-block and re-establishment of an interconnected street grid also furthered the impression of a well-settled, well-integrated neighborhood. And second, many of the project’s amenities, from pedestrian paths to a new courtyard and playground, are available not just to residents but to everyone in the neighborhood. A new bus stop connects residents and neighbors to downtown Jersey City. And the project abuts the 273-acre Lincoln Park, an open-space asset available to the entire community.

The result is a community where residents feel safer (and indeed, some of the design changes that have helped integrate the community into the neighborhood, such as individual entrances and private porches, have also led to a reported drop in local crime), are more connected, and are poised to enjoy the benefits of the additional revitalization that’s to come.

 

Supporting partners: AJD Construction; Greater Bergen Community Action (Head Start program); Ingerman Construction Company; Inglese Architecture & Engineering LLC; Innova Services; Langan Engineering and Environmental Services LLC; MaGrann Associates; Matrix New World Engineering; National Park Service; New Jersey Green Homes; New Jersey Department of Transportation; New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency; Orndorf & Associates Inc.; RPM Development Group; Terracon

Video produced by Lori H. Ersolmaz, Voices of Hope Productions, LLC. © 2017 All rights reserved.

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