What is McGinley Square?
Named the “Heart of Jersey City” by the signs which adorn its lampposts, McGinley Square possesses both a unique history and a distinct socioeconomic character.
The Square itself rests at the intersection of Montgomery Street and Bergen Avenue. But according to Google Maps, the larger McGinley Square area stretches north to south from Sip Avenue to Communipaw Avenue and west to east from West Side Avenue to County Road 617.
According to New Jersey City University’s Jersey City Past and Present Project, the actual Square and the surrounding area which shares its name honor Monsignor Roger McGinley, an instrumental figure in the construction of the nearby St. Aedan’s Church, dedicated in 1931.
Based on census data collected by the National Association of Realtors, McGinley Square houses a population of about 15, 664 today. The median household income is $43, 779—compared to Jersey City’s overall median of $93,385. The average rental rate of a 4-bedroom apartment in the McGinley Square area is $1,560.
In 2011, a report by the Jersey City City Planning Division designated McGinley Square as “an area in need of redevelopment” based on factors such as the conditions of local buildings.
Developing McGinley Square
The Jersey City City Planning Division proposed a detailed plan for redeveloping McGinley Square East in September 2011.
Part of this proposal included connecting Journal Square and McGinley square via public transportation in order to “encourage increased mass transit ridership.” Other considerations included office and retail space in addition to new housing opportunities.
According to an article by Matt Hunger of the Jersey City Independent, residents of the area initially received letters stating that eminent domain could result in real estate seizures. Eminent domain is the process through which a government may provide compensation to assume control of private property for public use.
However, the area’s designation changed from “in need of redevelopment” to “in need of rehabilitation” in early September 2011, eliminating the possibility of such seizures. A provision against eminent domain thus appears in the report above.
At the end of the month, the Jersey City City Council finally introduced an ordinance to adopt the McGinley Square East Redevelopment Plan. The minutes of that meeting are available here.
Eugene Cornacchia, President of Saint Peter’s University, also lent his support to the plan that month. Read his appeal to Jersey City residents here.
Ultimately, an October 2011 vote approved the ordinance and allowed development to begin.
Nevertheless, no significant changes have occurred in McGinley Square since then.
The construction of Saint Peter’s Tower could thus very well be the first in a long line of future development.
Click below to view the Jersey City City Planning Division’s outlines for rehabilitating McGinley Square.