The long-envisioned revitalization of two waterfront blocks around Jersey City’s Exchange Place could soon move forward as a city-backed plan to revamp the area is slated for final review.
An effort seeking to refurbish the eastern ends of Montgomery Street and Christopher Columbus Drive emerged in 2019 following a kerfuffle over possibly moving the Katyn Memorial. A formal plan is officially in place almost three years later that will keep the monument intact and transform its surroundings with some new amenities.
Designed by Melillo + Bauer + Carman Landscape Architecture with engineering work by Dresdner Robin, the plan will keep a service road leading to Hyatt House and the adjacent office building in place but convert the remainder of the Montgomery Street portion for pedestrian use only.
A placemaking sign facing Hudson Street is slated for installation just north of the Hudson Bergen Light Rail Station and tables and seating areas would be located directly behind retractable security bollards.
Heading towards the Hudson River, several lawn areas are to be added to the east of the Katyn Memorial. The monument itself would be surrounded by a new circular bench with planting beds and the plan calls for a new playground to be constructed just north of J. Owen Grundy Park.
The proposed overhaul also includes two new curb islands along the Christopher Columbus Drive portion of the plaza and landscape pavers would be installed in front of the newly renovated Harborside property.
The entire area around the waterfront entrance to the PATH system would additionally get new pavers under the plan and two new lawn areas are to be added to the east of the Exchange Place Center building.
A presentation prepared for the planning board includes a few possible conversions that the plaza could undergo when called for that include a festival / market layout and a format that adds a stage to the west of the Katyn Memorial for special events.
As the totality of the plan encompasses over an acre of space, a Section 31 “courtesy review” is required by Jersey City’s planning board. They are tentatively scheduled to discuss and potentially approve the proposal during their April 26 meeting.