The octagonal 50-foot clock remaining on the shore of the Hudson River
facing Manhattan is a historical reminder of Jersey City's tenaciousness and
its prominence during the 1940s & 1950s. By the 1970s, the city
experienced a period of urban decline clouded by corruption held over
from the Mayor "Boss" Hague reign of backroom deals and political cronyism.
Today, considered by many as the "sixth borough" of Manhattan, Jersey city's coastline has experienced a renaissance of sorts. Financial institutions, the likes of Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Citibank, UBS and others have carved new high-rise buildings into the skyline gentrifying most of the downtown environs extending as far west as the Heights. Attracting Manhattanites and suburb dwellers in droves, the 2010 U.S. Census (while still contested)
shows that JC might become the state's most populated city, surpassing Newark for the first time.
Attracting high-end developers, renown architects and global financiers, it is no wonder that big ideas and innovative developmental projects are landing on the "gauche" side of the Hudson versus Manhattan. Today, analogous to pioneers and prospectors of the Wild West, forward-thinking entrepreneurs are seeking their own stake on the "Gold Coast" of New Jersey.
Recently, I interviewed Raphael D'Angelis
who heads up the developmental firm Design Concept Depot, as he embarked on an intriguing venue proposal to literally put Jersey City on the map.
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. Proposed Jersey City Marina Project
“To accomplish this feat, you need fresh ideas, innovators, and a team that’s willing to push boundaries,” D'Angelis stated. “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.
On September 18, during the Emmy Award ceremonies, the TV network FX premiered its first teaser for a new dramatic series, titled, odd enough, "Untitled Jersey City Project."FX - TV Show
Similar to the real-life entrepreneurial dreams of D'Angelis, the plot line of this new TV drama focuses on a fictional tale of what might be possible in Jersey City. The story follows two young New Jersey architects hired to design a "Waterfront Stadium," a dream project for a Jersey City real-estate tycoon name Larry Tyerman whose obtained funding from a mysterious financier out of Taiwan.
The FX website promo
describes the storyline as one that's "set amidst the fast-developing Jersey City waterfront… (and) while the glass office towers are sleek and new, the rules of the game haven't changed one bit - everyone here has something to gain - money, fame and power."
Interesting to note that while D'Angelis continues to aggressively fight to obtain approvals for his project from the power brokers and state regulators, when art begins to imitate life, his quest might not be so far out of his grasp. Perceptions of a city can change, dependent on the visionaries who are willing to dig their heels in and go the long-haul. Whether the "Untitled Project" or the "JC Marina" see the light of day, for a city that's experienced as many rebirths as Jersey City, I think the odds are more than slightly in their favor... and with the Colgate Clock still ticking - I'd say it's only a matter of time!