View Full Version : Jersey City's very own "Highline"

June 25th, 2005, 07:48 PM
The Sixth Street Embankment is stone elevated railroad right of way that was abandonded in the early 80s. It has not been touched since and it had bridges over the streets it crossed, but were taken down in 1998 by Conrail. Once made into parkland it will connect to the waterfront and add to the character of this great city as well as being the missing link for the JC section of the East Coast Greenway connecting it to the Hudson Waterfront Walkway and Liberty State Park and the other big parks in the city. Here is a link to the coalition that saved the embankment: http://www.embankment.org/

Nod for Sixth St. brings green space Downtown

Monday, June 13, 2005

In a move that pleased advocates for more green space Downtown - but will likely be challenged in court - the Jersey City City Council voted Wednesday to use eminent domain to seize a chunk of the Sixth Street Embankment.

Rejecting the pleas of lawyers representing New York City-based developer Steve Hyman - who has the first option to buy the defunct railroad turnaround from Conrail - City Council members voted 8-0-1 to set the wheels in motion to buy the entire property.

The one abstention was Ward C Councilman Steve Lipski, who said he was a friend of Hyman.

"It's been a long road and four administrations," said Stephen Gucciardo, vice president of the Embankment Preservation Coalition and chair of the Jersey City Historic Preservation Commission. "I'm very happy the council voted in favor of passing that ordinance."

But Hyman, who was represented by two attorneys at the council meeting, may continue the fight in court.

Ed McKirdy, a Hyman lawyer, said after the meeting that the city still has plenty of questions to answer. "There are . transactional costs, you (the city officials) don't know what you're going to wind up paying," McKirdy said. "You don't know if a court is going to hold up the right of the condemning authority."

Hyman reportedly offered to pay Conrail $3 million for the land, and has invested close to $1 million in environmental studies, his attorneys said.

Unused since the 90s, the elevated embankment represents a prize catch for advocates for more green space downtown. Last November, organizers of the East Coast Greenway Alliance announced the six-block, half-mile parcel would be part of a 2,600-mile bike and walking trail stretching from Maine to Florida.

Two years ago, Hyman threw his hat in the ring to purchase the 6-acre open space. This land became intertwined with negotiations Hyman was engaged in to sell a property known as the Flintkote site, at Luis Muñoz Marin Boulevard and Grand Street.

At a City Council meeting last year, Hyman offered to swap his option to buy the embankment if the city would grant a 20-year tax abatement on the Flintkote site to Hoboken-based developer Dean Geibel, to whom he was planning to sell the land.

The council refused to grant the abatement at that time, saying Hyman should not be selling land with such conditions.

Hyman did eventually sell the land to Geibel and the tax abatement was granted, though not as part of any deal for the embankment.

June 25th, 2005, 07:55 PM
Looks nice, but it would be a cooler idea if JC had NYC's desnity. The reason why the Highline will be a sucess is because you will be able to criss-cross the Meat-Packing District and Chelsea and get sectacular views of the skyline. JC doesn't have that, at least not yet.

June 25th, 2005, 08:12 PM
Yea but it will be tranquil and relaxing and it will have great views of NYC and JC's skyline and goes through beautiful neighborhoods and it's connecting to the Waterfront right next to Newport and the Powerhouse Art District so I think it will be succesful. It will be a unique park not yet seen in the city and I think it will be recieved greatly. At the base of one of the partsof the embankment along 6th st. there is a makeshift outdoor living room across from beautiful brownstones that provides a great gathering area for the neighborhood.

August 3rd, 2005, 05:27 PM
Our Towns

A Promenade and a Trail, Ready to Meet a Greenway

Published: August 3, 2005

IN Paris, there's the Promenade Plantée, an abandoned railroad viaduct transformed into a narrow, three-mile elevated walking trail near the Place de la Bastille. In Manhattan, there's the High Line, the proposed mile-and-a-half park along an abandoned railroad viaduct 30 feet above the streets of Chelsea.

And in Jersey City, there's the Harsimus Stem Embankment, which, without as fancy a pedigree, has the potential to be as worthy as either of them, as long as it can negotiate the perilous waters of Hudson County politics - no small hurdle.

Back when this was a railroad town, Pennsylvania Railroad freight trains rumbled through to the Hudson River railyards over seven tracks built atop an embankment supported by sandstone and granite blocks each weighing a ton. When the trains stopped rolling in the mid-1990's, the embankment was left behind like an industrial ghost, six blocks of what is now dense vegetation, bird habitat and a flyway for monarch butterflies in the middle of a residential neighborhood.

In 1998, the mayor at the time, Bret D. Schundler, the ultimate build-we-must kind of mayor, proposed knocking down the embankment to build housing. The move catalyzed much of downtown to think anew about the hulking eyesore in its midst and to eventually come up with a serendipitous grand vision.

First came a public row over the development plan that ended with a clear popular revolt against knocking the embankment down. It spawned a citizens group, the Embankment Preservation Coalition, which for seven years has doggedly moved ahead, doing research, raising money, prodding the Jersey City Municipal Council.

In September 2004 the Council passed the first of two ordinances approving the use of eminent domain - suddenly the subject of popular ire but long an important tool used by cities - to acquire the property. The core of the project would be a half-mile promenade leading to the city's harbor. It would create a six-acre island of greenery in the city's dense urban core with each segment connected by bridges over city streets.

But its heart would be much grander, a proposed link to the East Coast Greenway, a 2,600-mile bike and hiking trail running to Florida from Maine that's like an urban version of the Appalachian Trail. The proposed trail, about 20 percent finished, includes 92 miles in New Jersey.

The proposed link to Jersey City would come through the Bergen Arches/Erie Cut, the spectacular underground canyon burrowed into the New Jersey Palisades a century ago that exists like a secret wilderness world under the graffiti-laced city streets visited by the homeless and almost no one else. Under the plan, hikers would come through the canyons - also abandoned railroad tracks - to the embankment and onto the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway. It could be one of the nation's great urban natural spaces.

BUT not so fast. While Jersey City officials have meandered through their paces, supporting the project but not in any hurry to get it going, a particularly canny developer, Steve Hyman, bought an option to buy the embankment properties from the railroad that owned them and then, on July 12, bought the properties themselves for $3 million and said he planned to knock down the walls and build housing.

Local officials, saying Mr. Hyman in the past has been more interested in buying and selling properties, using them as bargaining chips and leverage than actually building on them, say they're not worried.

"Let's look at the facts," said the Municipal Council president, Mariano Vega Jr. "The city has declared the property a historic landmark. The Council has voted unanimously to purchase or condemn the property for public use as a linear park, so our position hasn't changed at all."

Councilman Steven Fulop said yesterday that the Council should "move quickly toward condemnation."

But people who have worked for years to see the embankment happen know Jersey City is not Manhattan, where big-shot socialites support the High Line. Instead, it's a place where things go awry, where passion on the ground often runs into the murk of local politics, where the price goes up the longer the game goes on and development pressures often trump neighborhood ones. And Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy, the fourth mayor in five years, has given little sign that this is something he wants to move on aggressively.

"The public has done everything it can to demonstrate the wide and deep support for acquisition," said Maureen Crowley, a longtime member of the embankment group. "We secured the site's historic protection. We raised the funding. Three successive administrations have said they will acquire the site. What are we waiting for?"

E-mail: peappl@nytimes.com

February 25th, 2014, 09:13 PM
Thread bump. Very cool.

February 26th, 2014, 12:36 PM
The sale of the Rail Line to a private developer was invalid under current Railroad Abandonment laws! This allows the city to buy it and develop a High Line style park.
http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/2014/02/jersey_city_sixth_street_embankment_judge_ruling.h tml

A step closer to 'High Line' park in Jersey City: Developer's appeal rejected

A panel of federal judges Wednesday upheld (http://www.embankment.org/news/us-court-of-appeals-affirms-district-court-ruling-in-our-favor)a court ruling that said the sale of the Sixth Street Embankment in Jersey City to a private developer was invalid, paving the way for the city's plan to transform the Downtown property into a park.
Appellate judges in Washington, D.C. agreed with a District Court judge that the embankment is a rail line and is subject to federal laws that require Jersey City have the first opportunity to purchase the land, according to the Embankment Preservation Coalition.
"It's nice to see the courts validate what we have been saying," said Stephen Gucciardo, president of the Embankment Preservation Coalition. "It's a huge win for us."
The previous owner of the embankment, Conrail, sold the property -- which runs along the south side of Sixth Street from Marin Boulevard to Brunswick Street -- to developer and investor Steve Hyman for $3 million nearly a decade ago.In 2012, the city and Hyman reached a tentative settlement in which the city would purchase most of the roughly mile-long parcel for $7 million and create a Highline-style park, while Hyman would retain one block. Hyman had wanted to develop the entire property.

Stephen Gucciardo, president of the Embankment Preservation Coalition, said after years of battling for the property in the courts, 'It's nice to see the courts validate what we have been saying.'
Wednesday's ruling reaffirms that Hyman's deeds to the property are invalidated, Gucciardo said, and Conrail will reassume ownership of the property.The recent ruling was an appeal of afederal judge's ruling in September (http://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/2013/10/jersey_city_officials_hailing_embankment_ruling_as _clear_win.html) which sided against the developer.
"This is another step that only serves to validate the city's position on the embankment," Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop said in a statement on the coalition's website. "We are committed to this fight and partnership with the Embankment Coalition to create a world-class citywide park in Jersey City."If Hyman does not appeal the recent ruling, Gucciardo said the city will have a chance to buy the property for the original sale price of $3 million.
Hyman could not immediately be reached for comment.

February 26th, 2014, 04:35 PM
Good to know that sometimes the law is on the environment's side.

February 26th, 2014, 10:19 PM
More great news for Jersey City in a year of amazing news for this great City!!!! This will be a huge asset to the city and will be amazing when it is completed. Nice to see the courts rule on the side of the City and environment and away from big business.

March 3rd, 2014, 11:14 AM
Is a right-of-way being reserved for future transit on the embankment? If not, then this is bad news for Jersey City. I know light rail expansion won't happen while Christie's governor, but you shouldn't close the door on it. Expanding light rail up to the heights down the old embankments will probably be critical for future westward residential growth from the waterfront to the Heights.

March 3rd, 2014, 04:02 PM
No the park would be built on top of the embankment. I would like lightrail along that stretch myself and still think its feasible. It could be done on Sixth Street just the same way the lightrail runs along Essex Street in Paulus Hook. I however don't feel not having it up there along Highway 139 would retard growth of the Heights and JSQ. JSQ is entering it's biggest building boom in generations and the Heights has been gentrifying for a while now and a lot of old homes are being renovated, new bars and restaurants are opening on Palisades and Central Avenues, old factories are being converted into condos and lux rentals, and the artist community up there has been flourishing for a while with a lot of artists moving up there from Hoboken and Downtown JC.