Ground Finally Broken on 100 Steps Project in JC Heights

City officials break ground on the 100 Steps project

After years of advocacy, the Jersey City Heights community has finally seen ground broken on the 100 Steps project at the foot of Mountain and Paterson Plank roads.

Today at 11 am, the city broke ground on the 100 Steps project, a restoration of the original Franklin Street Steps which were built more than a century ago, closed in the 1920’s and torn down due to disrepair in the early 1990’s.

Of the community activists who campaigned to have the steps rebuilt, the Riverview Neighborhood Association (RNA) has been the most vocal in its support of the project.

“We have many residents who commute to and from Hoboken, Downtown Jersey City and New York who need more direct access to and from Hoboken,” said RNA president Becky Hoffman. “We also need residents from below to come up here and enjoy our events and frequent the Riverview Arts District and businesses along Palisade Avenue.”

The fight for the steps has seen many ups and downs in the past decade.

In February 2003 the developer Brass Works Urban Renewal agreed to construct the 100 Steps walkway 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. Locals also became concerned and advocated for the completion of the project.

In 2011, the City Council unanimously approved an amendment to the agreement with Brass Works that put the responsibility of building the steps on the city, not the developer.

The project, which is now estimated to cost about $1 million, will be partially funded by a $300,000 grant from the state Department of Transportation (DOT) and by additional funding contributed by the city and Brass Works, city spokeswoman Jennifer Morrill says.

Hoffman says today’s groundbreaking was a moment the Heights community has long waited for. “The 100 Steps, in our opinion, would not have been built without the vigilance of the RNA and the participation of the community in the grassroots efforts,” she says.

Works will construct a structural steel stairway descending from Franklin Street to Mountain Road at 100 Paterson Plank Road, where the Cliff Condominium complex is located. The 100 Steps stairway will be supported by piles to bedrock, hence the drilling rig at the site.

The project generally consists of a metal stairway with open grate treads on concrete piers, some concrete curb and sidewalk at the approaches, chain link fence, decorative lights, landscaping and signage.

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Matt Hunger contributed to this report. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Morrill

Summer Dawn Hortillosa

is a freelance arts and entertainment writer whose work has appeared in the Jersey City Independent, The Jersey Journal, the International and other publications. She is also a creative writer and theatrical director.