Five-story development approved near Newark Ave, Jersey City

303 First Street, Jersey City. Image via Google Maps/Street View.

A developer with a controversial history has been given the green light to construct a new building on multiple lots in downtown Jersey City, just steps from the Newark Avenue shopping corridor.

At their August 9 meeting, the Jersey City Planning Board approved an application by Village Townhouse Estates to develop four properties they own at 303-311 First Street. Owned by local developer Peter Mocco and totaling just over 7,000 square feet, the current surface car park extends to the corner of Coles Street.

Jersey Digs first announced plans to develop the property last summer, although the final version has been slightly edited. Drafted by Alabama-based firm Christian Rogers Architect, the Approved Edition will consist of smaller residences that break down into 20 studios and 23 bedrooms.

Rendering of the project. Image courtesy of Christian Rogers Architect.

No affordable housing is included in the proposed project, which will include 11 off-street parking spaces in the basement of the building as well as 20 bicycle storage spaces. An underground rainwater retention vault is incorporated into the plans, as is a 720 square foot communal rooftop terrace for future residents.

The exterior of the building will be ivory brick on the first floor, with an entrance canopy sporting a dark metallic material. The upper floors of the building will be made of reconstituted stone, with a cornice delimiting the top floor.

Peter Mocco, who developed much of the Liberty Harbor neighborhood, has had trouble with the city in recent years. His company’s 245 Newark Avenue project deviated from site plans in 2018 by rising higher than allowed approved plans while using facade materials that are not permitted by city code.

Mocco found himself in a similar situation the following year when his project at 333 Grand Street was built with unapproved additional flooring and again used an insulation and exterior finish system prohibited by regulation.

His businesses have been fined $582,000 by the city for the violations, although Mocco’s newest development, the 32-story 88 Regent Street, has so far created no issues as the rental began.

The Jersey City Planning Board granted the 303 First Street project a single waiver related to setbacks from the building’s rear yard. Village Townhouse Estates has not announced a construction schedule for its latest development.