Powerhouse Stabilization Gets Underway

As various factions have battled over who should pay to relocate the electrical transformers inside Jersey City’s Powerhouse, the health of the historic structure has become ever more precarious. With this in mind, the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency (JCRA) and the Port Authority today are kicking off a stabilization project for the 100-plus-year-old structure. This JCRA says the project is designed to halt further decline of the building while the Port Authority relocates the transformers.

Architectural firm Beyer, Blinder and Belle was tapped to helm the stabilization effort, which is set to include the replacement of windows and roof and the installation of new drainage systems to mitigate any further deterioration of the structure. The process is anticipated to take three to five months, and comes with a $3.4 million price tag, which will be picked up by the city, the JCRA and the Port Authority.

Once the stabilization in complete in October 2009 and the transformers are removed, the city expects the redevelopment of the site to get underway. The $90 million redevelopment, which is expected to be complete by 2013, is slated to bring 180,000 square feet of gallery, restaurant and office space to the building.

“The building will again play a key role in the continued escalation of the city’s renaissance, both economically and culturally,” JCRA executive director Robert Antonicello says.

Officials hope the Powerhouse will anchor a revived arts district of the same name, which as recently as six years ago was a thriving center for the arts in Jersey City. Ever since the artists who called the bustling 111 1st St. home were forced out in 2004, the Powerhouse Arts District, despite the best efforts of some businesses and residents, has largely been an “arts district” in name only.

The iconic Powerhouse, which also faced demolition in the late 1990s, was saved by community groups led by the Jersey City Landmarks Conservancy, and the building was ultimately put on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001.

For more on the stabilization plan and the redevelopment, check out this new site from the JCRA. For more on the history of the Powerhouse, check out JCI publisher Shane Smith’s piece in NEW magazine.

Jon Whiten

co-founded the Jersey City Independent. He is currently the Deputy Director of New Jersey Policy Perspective.