Jersey City officials and restaurateurs cut the ribbon at the new pedestrian plaza at Newark Ave.

Jersey City officials and restaurateurs cut the ribbon on the Newark Avenue Pedestrian Plaza this afternoon after the $6.7 million renovations were completed.

Photo courtesy of the City of Jersey City.

By John Heinis/Hudson County

“In 2015, we had a vision to maximize this space by creating a pedestrian plaza and establishing a sought-after shopping and dining destination and global economic engine that has since exceeded our expectations,” Mayor Steven Fulop said in a statement. .

“Today’s grand opening is the final step in the realization of a permanent, community-focused pedestrian mall that drives local business, attracts investment and, most importantly, establishes a prime location to foster the community with various free public events throughout the year, weekly entertainment on the new concert stage and daily foot traffic where residents and visitors can enjoy all that the square has to offer.”

The city held community meetings to gather public feedback and incorporate feedback throughout the design before the renovations were announced on February 9 and approved by council on February 11.

Improvements include a stage area has been built for regular live music and performances that will be free and open to everyone.

Additionally, granite pavers replaced the original green-painted asphalt and raised the street level to match the sidewalk for a more cohesive structure with better accessibility for strollers and wheelchairs.

The revamp added 24 new trees, 20 planters with shrubs and landscaping, 14 large square planters with built-in seating under the trees, 30 combined recycling and waste units, 16 bike racks and 40 benches, among others.

“Today marks the culmination of many years of hard work. The pedestrian mall has become a vital point in the area, and I couldn’t be happier,” added Rachel Sieg, Executive Director of the Historic Downtown Special Improvement District.

“From holding meetings with business owners to taking calls from owners and City officials, this process was not easy, but it was definitely worth it. I feel a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment with the conclusion of this project, and I hope that visitors and residents of Jersey City will enjoy it for many years to come.

The pedestrian mall was first closed to vehicles in 2015 as part of a pilot program to limit traffic and create a pedestrian destination, then expanded to a second block in 2018.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the plaza was extended to Grove Street between Montgomery Street and Christopher Columbus Drive, as well as 1st Street and Newark Avenue.

The increased outdoor capacity has helped restaurants and small businesses stay afloat and reopen safely sooner.

“It was important to us city-wide that our design incorporate community input, and we are proud of the finished product seen here today,” noted Paul Russo, Director of Engineering. from the city.

“The new plaza offers rich elements that have a cohesive feel. The environment is unique and creates an aesthetic oasis of open space in a bustling city that all can enjoy for decades.

The Newark Avenue Pedestrian Plaza upgrade comes after two other major investments in the main streets: Central Avenue and West Side Avenue.

“Restaurant and business owners have been through a lot over the past couple of years, and knowing that the mayor is business-friendly and always supportive has helped many of us keep our doors open for business.” , said Kenny Caulfield, co-owner of the Ashford.

“Thanks to the City’s support, we have a thriving shopping and dining corridor that attracts local residents and visitors alike. By making this place permanent, we can further demonstrate that we remain open for business and that all are welcome.

Rufus T. Sifford