Jersey City Takes Over ‘100 Steps’ Project

Jersey City has agreed to absolve a developer of luxury condominiums of its direct responsibility for building the “100 Steps” project that will connect the Heights to Hoboken near the 2nd Street light rail station. The latest change comes as Heights residents continue to wonder when the project, which was first agreed upon more than eight years ago, will ever be completed.

In February 2003 the developer Brass Works Urban Renewal agreed to construct the 100 Steps walkway up the Palisade as part of a deal in which the city allowed it to convert a warehouse into a luxury condominium project, now known as The Cliffs.

Over the subsequent years, the project’s initial estimated cost of $250,000 ballooned to about $700,000 as it was delayed, and city officials became concerned that Brass Works would not complete the walkway. With that in mind, the City Council last night unanimously approved an amendment to the agreement with Brass Works that puts the responsibility of building the 100 Steps on the city, not the developer.

The move will allow the city to take advantage of a $300,000 grant for the project from the state Department of Transportation (DOT), and it will also receive a payment of $143,117 from Brass Works, which is what remains of the developer’s initial $250,000 commitment. The city then will have to raise the final $256,833 on its own.

“The city can obtain these funds from its capital improvements fund, and under the proposed amendment to the Developer’s Agreement, the developer agrees to to reimburse the city the $256,833 through a special assessment to be levied solely against the developer’s property at 100 Paterson Plank Road,” assistant corporation counsel Raymond Reddington wrote in a June 8 memo to the council.

In other words, instead of having the developer directly pay the remaining quarter of a million dollars, the city will collect the funds, plus interest, over five years through a special tax on the building; city spokesperson Jennifer Morrill says this will “reimburse the city the full amount plus interest.”

As the project now officially changes hand, eager residents can expect further delays. Healy chief of staff Rosemary McFadden said at Monday’s caucus meeting that the city is “in the process of redesigning the steps according to Department of Transportation standards,” which is necessary for the city to receive one of the grants that will help fund the project; she did not say how long this redesign would take.

Ward D councilman Bill Gaughan, at Wednesday’s meeting, said the timeline is still up in the air.

“The start date for the project will come from our engineering department,” he said. “It depends on the DOT specifications.”

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Matt Hunger

is a former staff writer for the Jersey City Independent.