Sunday, September 19, 2010

Progress on the Powerhouse - HA!

Photo from the Jersey City Reporter

The Jersey City Reporter has an article on the completion of "Phase One" of the "stabilization" of the Powerhouse:
“After 50 years of neglect, it’s unrealistic that you can turn a building of this size around inexpensively or quickly,” Antonicello said. “That being said, I’m thrilled people are taking notice of the efforts made to restore this magnificent structure.”

The stabilization started in earnest in June of last year when Mayor Jerramiah Healy, Antonicello, officials from the Port Authority, and other city officials were on hand for the kick-off of the stabilization of the historic Hudson and Manhattan Powerhouse, the first step towards reinventing the building as a commercial and entertainment complex. The actual work started in December.

When stabilization is complete, the Powerhouse will become an 180,000 square-foot space across five floors, filled with galleries, restaurants, and offices. The Cordish Companies, a Baltimore-based retail and entertainment developer, is the designated developer for renovating the site.
Some points:

  1. Sealing the windows "with brightly colored boards using colors from the Redevelopment Agency’s logo" isn't much to brag about. Phase two includes the real work: relocating the electrical transformers located in the Powerhouse that power the PATH, installing a temporary roof, structural work, masonry repairs and the removal of 340 tons of polluted soil and 50 tons of non-toxic soil. So please, cut the bull.
  2. Even if the Powerhouse is completely restored (as we all hope), it will never be the "centerpiece for the long-discussed Powerhouse Arts District" because THERE IS NO POWERHOUSE ARTS DISTRICT, and there never will be because Healy is allowing the owners of the historic warehouses to demolish them.  He actually ENCOURAGED the demolition of 111 First Street by changing the zoning to allow a 60-story building -- and we can expect further demolition when the economy improves. 
  3. The Powerhouse cannot be the center of anything because, even if it's beautifully restored and all the hopes for 180,000 SF of galleries, restaurants, entertainment venues, etc. are fulfilled, IT WILL BE SURROUNDED - BURIED - BY HIGH-RISE BUILDINGS.
  4. Cities would do anything to have a large, vital art and entertainment district in an historic warehouse district. Jersey City could have had it -- the Powerhouse Arts District Redevelopment Plan was working. Several historic building were restored and other, infill buildings, were built. But Healy gave it all away. 

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