Deputy Mayor Marcos D. Vigil Talks Jersey City Economic Development: Affordable Housing Important to Community
by Josh Anderson
JERSEY CITY, NJ — Maros D. Vigil is the Deputy Mayor for Housing, Economic Development & Commerce at the City of Jersey City. We welcomed the esteemed official to CAPRE’s Sixth Annual New Jersey Gold Coast Investment Summit where he provided a Keynote Address titled Jersey City Economic Development Vision and Incentives in 2018. Below, we highlight some of his remarks, which provide insight into the inner-workings of Jersey City’s ever-changing, but also evergreen, development arena.
Vigil started out by talking about an issue that is becoming more and more salient in many part of the region — affordable housing. “I’d say that most of the people that I work with on a regular basis understand that, because of the re-valuation and because of the impact that many residents of the waterfront are seeing on their taxes, and also because of the demand on affordable housing not only in Jersey City but many cities nationwide, there is a strong drive, particularly from community residents as well as the local politicians, to look for alternatives that increase affordable housing,” he continued.
“The way that we were able to basically leverage a lot of that was based on the incentives that we received from the state as well as some of the additional zoning that we were able to get in certain projects, to get certain community benefits,” he explained. “Because we have to wait to see what the proposals will be that come from Governor Murphy, and because we basically have to see what the impact will be in terms of the market downtown, the development of residential projects and the requirement that we have to include affordable housing is probably going to substantially impact the rate of development that we expect to see, particularly on the downtown area.”
However, not all is so easy to comprehend, cautioned Vigil. “The reverse is true for what our expectations are going to be on Journal Square, McGinley Square, and those areas South of the city that are within walking distance of the library,” he revealed. “You’re going to see tax decreases in many properties, many of them really attractive properties, and one of the things that made them more attractive was that you were paying more taxes on those properties than you would have on a new unit downtown. And now the reverse is going to be true. So we’d like to see what’s going to happen over the course of the next year or year and a half before we start implementing additional policies to incentive development.”
Vigil then shared observations from his travel around the state. “One thing I’m seeing, when I’m talking to several officials in the state with respect to economic development, is that there is still a continued interest in light-industrial facilities, particularly based on where we are located and our connectivity to New York City,” he intimated. “And as many areas of the city were re-zoned for residential, we were seeing a lot of these potentially high-impact job opportunities disappear from the city as the same time that the state was seeing all of this potential revenue from income taxes disappear.”
“So to the extent that there are still pockets on the southern ends of the city and on the western end of the city that are zoned for industrial, we are working with several developers to think a little bit creatively and perhaps talk to officials in the state, talk to independent agents, to find the right tenants before we start working on any particular re-zoning of those sites,” he concluded. “And then work with whatever their needs are for those area to be able to re-attract that potential here.”
Vigil then shared a very interesting tidbit about Jersey City’s residents. “And with all due respect, one of the things that perhaps not everyone is familiar with, because of the kind of folks that this area of the Golf and Jersey coast attract, there are more workers that are employed in the high-tech sector that are living in Jersey City and Hoboken than there are living in Brooklyn and Manhattan,” he revealed. “This is a statistic that we made available to our neighbors in Newark when they were making their bid to attract Amazon’s HQ2. So there is the potential for Jersey City and the state of New Jersey to work together to continue this sort of level to the city.”
Check out previous CapRE Insider Reports covering earlier parts of Deputy Mayor Vigil’s remarks: