Jersey Shore Spin-off Coming to Jersey City; Snooki and JWoww Moving to Former Firehouse

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Jersey City officials have granted MTV filming permits for a spin-off of Jersey Shore starring Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi and Jenni “JWoww” Farley. If you live Downtown by the Grove Street PATH, get ready to welcome your new neighbors: Sources say the ladies will move into the converted former firehouse at 38 Mercer Street.

The news hit the internet faster than a girl can throw on a pair of booty shorts.

“This makes me want to move to Newark,” Jersey City resident Daniel Morteh posted to his Facebook wall. “There goes the neighborhood,” wrote another local. A new page materialized called “Keep Snooki out of Jersey City.”

“The producers of the Jersey Shore spinoff have been issued a permit to film in Jersey City following a full and fair review by the permitting agencies, including the Police Department,” city spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill said in a statement. “The cast and crew of the Jersey Shore spin-off, like everyone else, will be required to follow all the laws of the State of New Jersey and the City of Jersey City, and to show respect for their neighbors.”

Morrill tells JCI the production company will foot the bill for additional police who will be stationed outside the house and maintain order when the ladies go out.

The amount of money the city will earn in permitting fees was not immediately available. But aside from other ancillary fees, Morrill says the cost benefit of the show will largely go to local businesses like hotels, bars and restaurants. She confirms producers have talked to several local businesses about filming but declined to say which ones.

Filming will start next Friday and last about six weeks, according to Fox 5, which broke the news last night. In an on-camera interview, Mayor Jerramiah Healy says that having the show in town is a good thing as long as the stars behave.

“My view is that the more people see anything about Jersey City and see what we have here in Jersey City, the better it is for our city,” he says, adding that the show could draw national and even international attention to our fair city.

The news comes after Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer last week shot down the request by MTV and 495 Productions to film the spin-off in the Mile Square City “in the interest of public safety and quality of life.”

Asked what he thought, Ward E Councilman Steve Fulop, whose ward encompasses Downtown, sounded much like Zimmer.

“There is a reason Hoboken rejected it,” Fulop says. “No matter what they pay to film here, I feel we should have pride in the city and the goal as leaders to convey to the country that Jersey City is a great place to raise a family or move a business. This decision will have an image that is the opposite.”

Jayne Freeman, a columnist for the Jersey City Independent, nearly fell over watching the Fox 5 broadcast. She lived at the firehouse from 2006 to 2008 with her two daughters, acting as the caretaker of the property for owners Andrea and Russell Read. After she moved out, the Reads used the building as a location for their nonprofit, the Newforest Institute; sources say they are out of the country.

“I’m still very attached to the firehouse,” Freeman says. “It feels to me like one of them has taken up with my old boyfriend. When I saw it, I just got goosebumps.”

The house has stone floors, white tin ceilings, an original cast-iron spiral staircase and bedroom doors that say “Office of the Battalion Chief” and “Captain.” (Captain Snooki?)

When she left, there was also a long climbing rope hanging from the ceiling and a swing.

Estimates by the Jersey City Fire Department peg the building at more than 150 years old; the department has said the firehouse, the former Engine Company 3, closed in 1961. It became a residence 20 years later, according to the Jersey City Tax Assessor’s office.

In December 2007, local band manager and event promoter “Dancing Tony” Susco threw Freeman a Sweet 16 bash that filled the home’s cavernous interior with disco lights and music.

Susco says he not only welcomes Snooki and JWoww with fist-pumping arms — “I’m single and Italian, bring them in,” he says — but he would like to throw them a party.

On a recent episode of Jersey Shore, which is back in Seaside Heights after the cast’s season in Italy, plot points include Snooki’s trouble with urinary tract infections, Deena’s trouble with hair extensions and Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino’s trouble keeping his shorts up. Snooki “pees” herself during the episode while dancing at the club Karma, and at one point puts on a white rabbit suit and tackles her castmates.

Snooki said recently that the spin-off will show “more of our other side, not partying so much,” and JWoww has compared it to a modern-day Laverne & Shirley.

While Freeman hopes they treat her old house with respect, she believes Snooki and JWoww outside of the influence of their castmates will “be on better behavior.”

“I think there’s a less of a chance of the fight that happened when they were in Italy and wrecking the place,” she says. “I think with just the two of them, they’ll stay out of the physical drama.”

She wonders where the pair will go out in town, noting that Jersey City doesn’t really have anything like Karma.

If they don’t find what they’re looking for here, they could always go into New York. But not Hoboken; as Zimmer told MTV last week, “Any attempts to film in a manner that is not permitted without a permit will be dealt with immediately and aggressively by the city of Hoboken.”

Additional reporting by Matt Hunger

Photos by Jennifer Weiss, interior shots courtesy of Jayne Freeman

a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in the The Wall Street Journal, and Agence France-Presse. She is also a former editor for Jersey City Independent.