Jersey City Resident Proposing Large-Scale Floating Marina Complex in the Hudson

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Editor’s Note: The Jersey City Redevelopment Agency, in a letter responding to this story, says Ralphael D’Angelis’ view of both the development process and Request for Proposals regarding the marina site “is not only troubling but totally inaccurate.”

Iconic architecture is often known to captivate one’s sense of wanderlust. It leaves its mark on the mind’s eye and adds to our collective desire for travel. The Taj Mahal is a marvel that certainly falls into this category, but a building doesn’t have to be historic to appeal to us. Dating back only 40 years, the Sydney Opera House has captivated our imagination with its dramatic architecture and sweeping lines, cascading out over Australia’s famous harbor. Its award-winning design, conceived by Danish architect Jørn Oberg Utzon, has been an inspiration for architects the world over.

Such is the thought process that led Jersey City resident Raphael D’Angelis and his firm Design Concept Depot to create a venue proposal that would literally put Jersey City on the map.

“‘Destination, Jersey City’ is not an inconceivable proposition,” D’Angelis says. “Often dismissed as the gauche side of the Hudson, Jersey City is the ‘unofficial borough’ of Manhattan that really has the best views of New York City — it’s priceless.”

D’Angelis and his team, together with award-winning architect Carlo Frugiuele, have completed a design package to create a floating marina complex on 30 acres of land located between the Harborside Financial Center at the end of 2nd Street extending to the Newport Pier at the corner of 6th Street and jutting out approximately 100 feet from the coastline. Differing from the unique shell-like structure of the Sydney Opera House, the design elements of D’Angelis’ plan is a visual delight, as the seven buildings to be constructed bring to mind a school of fish basking on the coastline of the Hudson River.

It’s long been D’Angelis’ dream to change the perception of Jersey City.

“To accomplish this feat, you need fresh ideas, innovators, and a team that’s willing to push boundaries,” he says. “Jersey City has an ideal location to build something spectacular for not only the residents, but if built correctly, we’ll be able to draw people from New York and even international tourists from around the world.”

So instead of adding just another marina to the Jersey City coastline (the city already has three that are presently underutilized) his “out of the box” approach would feature a mixed-use complex of high-end retail shops (think Dolce Gabbana and Hermes Paris) and restaurants, a 5-star hotel, front-office corporate headquarters (as opposed to the back-office corporate facilities so prevalent in the city), an indoor/outdoor art park and a 3,000-seat performing arts center that could also be utilized for small-to-midsize trade shows and conventions. The 360-slip marina would be large enough to house 100 to 200 foot yachts that cannot currently be accommodated at any of Jersey City’s existing marinas.

In tandem with D’Angelis’ proposal, the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency (JCRA), which owns the marina site, has issued a “Request For Proposals” from marina developers to be submitted by today, March 9. According to the JCRA, the cost to build the marina would be absorbed by the developer and would not be disclosed until all proposals have been submitted. Less far-reaching in scope than D’Angelis’ plan, the JCRA is looking solely at the marina component for the site that would cater to local residents and a convenient stop for yachters making the “Great Circle” that commences with the Hudson River and circumnavigates the East Coast. The guidelines call for limited commercial outlets, which is one of the marked differences with D’Angelis’ proposal.

D’Angelis says two factors led him to submit his proposal to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) rather than to the JCRA.

First, his design concept would require a build-out onto the Hudson River, which is owned by the state, not the city, and the DEP is the regulatory body that approves projects that incorporate water rights. D’Angelis also notes that his project is “outside the scope” of the JCRA’s RFP, and so his advisors think it would be quicker to “take the DEP route.”

With an estimated cost of $500 million, D’Angelis sees his proposal as having a significant return on investment and an instant benefit to other developers in the area. He also estimates that construction and temporary jobs created by the project would peak at 4,000, with more than 6,000 jobs created post-construction.

“Jersey City has seen five years of commercial real estate stagnation,” D’Angelis says, adding that there is a “price to pay for inaction.”

Ron Callari

is a social media consultant and contributing writer for InventorSpot, and editorial cartoonist for the online kidd millennium cartoon series. He is the published author of Crude Behavior, Uncle Dubya's Jihad Jamboree and the just-released graphic novel Facebucks & Dumbs F*cks. He resides at Society Hill in Jersey City.