Jersey City taps WinnCompanies for Holland Gardens public housing overhaul

Effort to feature 50% affordable units, create 1,000 jobs

Jessica Perry//March 6, 2023

Jersey City taps WinnCompanies for Holland Gardens public housing overhaul

Effort to feature 50% affordable units, create 1,000 jobs

Jessica Perry//March 6, 2023

Boston-based WinnCompanies will carry out Jersey City’s $500 million revitalization effort at the Holland Gardens public housing complex in downtown.

Mayor Steven Fulop and the Jersey City Housing Authority unveiled plans for the project March 2, following a unanimous vote by the JCHA Board of Commissioners the night before that named the developer.

Currently, the 80-year-old public housing complex on 16th Street features 192 affordable units. The winning proposal would create a mixed-income, mixed-finance and mixed-use community that ultimately features 50% affordable housing.

All five of Holland Garden’s existing low-rise buildings will be razed to make way for the new, mixed-use plan. According to the city, current residents offered input throughout the process.

The four buildings approved under the updated Holland Gardens Revitalization Plan include:

  • Senior Building 74 affordable units for seniors on fixed incomes
  • For Sale Condominium Building — 56 homeownership units, half of which will be affordable for families earning between 60% and 120% Area Median Income
  • Retail and Community Building — With a 14,000-square-foot community space; 12,000-square-foot public library branch, including media center; and a 2,000-square-foot office for JCHA’s Resident Empowerment and Community Engagement Department
  • North Residential Tower — 192 public housing units and 309 market-rate units

As part of the plan, the work will reconnect 15th Street, creating a pedestrian plaza with additional amenities for residents and the surrounding neighborhood.

The project will also create jobs, about 1,000 of them, according to the city, with prioritization for local hiring and minority- and women-owned businesses.

Rendering for the reimagning of Jersey City public housing complex Holland Gardens.
Rendering for Holland Gardens in Jersey City. – CITY OF JERSEY CITY

“As housing affordability and public housing shortages reach crisis levels across the nation, in Jersey City, we are punching above our weight once again to increase affordability and provide pivotal, life-changing opportunities to help our residents achieve financial stability and self-sufficiency,” said Fulop. “Nearly half of the new units will be affordable housing with the addition of on-site services that are designed to fit the needs of our underserved residents who traditionally have limited accessibility. This redevelopment project is all-encompassing, and it serves as the standard bearer for what innovative public housing initiatives can accomplish.”

Rent.com pegs the average monthly rent for Jersey City at between $3,170 and $4,315 in 2023, with more than 73% of the city’s units boasting prices of more than $2,101 per month.

“The JCHA’s mission encompasses serving not just our current residents, but low- and extremely-low income residents throughout Jersey City,” said state Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, D-33rd District, who has served as chairman of JCHA for 15 years. “This groundbreaking project not only provides 1:1 replacement of all public housing at the site, but also significantly expands affordability, opportunity, and resource accessibility for residents citywide.”

According to the city, the $500 million project will provide approximately $28 million in ground lease payments to the JCHA over the next 30 years. The RECE Department will be supported by resident services payments to JCHA totaling $10 million. And, PILOT payments totaling $61 million over the next 30 years – including $20 million in Redevelopment Area Bond repayment and $10 million in RAB interest – will go back into the community to strengthen and expand the affordable housing stock and critical services to help residents, the city said.

Resident concerns

All units at the new development will have the same design and finishes, ensuring “residents of all income levels can equally experience high quality, equitable living.” Amenities will include in-unit dishwasher and washer and dryer units.

“WinnCompanies is honored to be selected to bring the re-imagined Holland Gardens to life,” said that company’s CEO, Gilbert Winn. “We look forward to partnering with the tenants, the Housing Authority, and the City to develop a mixed-income and mixed-use community that will foster economic opportunity and connection to resident services, and be a beautiful place to call home.”

Closer look: RECE

The Resident Empowerment and Community Engagement Department, which will occupy space at the new site, partners with community organizations in the city to connect residents with resources and programming, including afterschool programs, workforce development, senior services, and a digital inclusion program.

Beginning in 2019, JCHA sponsored a six-month charrette process with current Holland Gardens residents to develop the “Holland Vision.” Engagement continued with ongoing community meetings. A resident also served as a voting member of the JCHA Evaluation Committee.

“This is the first time a resident has been part of the procurement process, and we as residents worked hand-in-hand with the Housing Authority,” said Bernadine Taylor, who serves as that representative. “In this plan, they made sure to fit our needs as residents, specifically for the seniors. When they gave us a choice to live in the new senior building or stay in the parcels that was a big plus to me.”

Current Holland Gardens residents will be provided with relocation services during construction, with a right to return once the new buildings are habitable.

The city said the revitalization plan includes green energy and sustainable building practices.

It also marks the last major initiative for which Vivian Brady-Phillips will serve as executive director of the JCHA, which she has led since 2018. The former deputy mayor is moving on to join the World Economic Forum as its new head of strategic initiatives for urban transformation, the city announced.

“We believe this project will improve opportunities for residents who have made Holland Gardens their home and for generations to come,” Brady-Phillips said.