Jersey City Renaissance Walking Tour
You'll learn about:
How historic preservation got the ball rolling for redevelopment planning to turn brownfields into New Jersey’s “Gold Coast”
How transportation enhancements helped create one of the nation’s largest downtowns
How parking maximums made it all work
How arts helped in the redevelopment process
On pace to become the state’s largest city, Jersey City has come a long way from its days as the railhead of the nation, perched on the edge of the continent. Sharing a boundary with New York, Jersey City was settled by the Dutch only six years after New Amsterdam and has almost four centuries of stories to tell. See and hear its planning story on this tour led by Bob Cotter, its (now retired) planning director of more than a quarter of a century.
Cotter will show you how this city came to be, how it was used and abused over the centuries, and how urban renewal almost destroyed it while trying to “save” it. Beginning in the 1960s, the idea of “Wall Street West” began to introduce a new economy for this hollowed-out city, which lost a third of its population between 1930 and 1980. Now the fastest-growing city in the New York Metro region, Jersey City is doing its part to keep the region strong, green, and sustainable.
Hop on (and off!) a ferry and take a three-mile stroll through the ages. Tour highlights include the former Colgate industrial complex, now home to New Jersey’s tallest office and residential towers; the city’s historic district, where Jersey City was first settled in 1630; the new urbanist, Andres Duany-planned Liberty Harbor neighborhood; the new Jersey City Medical Center, relocated so the old JCMC could be reused for housing; two “Abbott district” schools; the pedestrian zone of Newark Avenue; and the popular Powerhouse Arts District, where old warehouses and new towers have created a vibrant new neighborhood.
, Jersey City
Invited SpeakerBob Cotter was the Planning Director for Jersey City, a position he held for more than 25 years (and 11 mayors). Under his direction, Jersey City has adopted more than 80 redevelopment plans, including the City’s Martin Luther King Drive Redevelopment Plan, which won the 1995 National Planning Award for Advocacy Planning. The New Jersey Chapter of the American Planning Association has recognized Bob and his staff with many awards for their excellent work over the past 30 years. During his three and a half decades with the city, Jersey City has risen from the grit of its industrial, railroading and maritime past to become the 13th largest downtown in America, and is poised to become New Jersey largest city in the next few years, with over 6,000 dwellings units currently in construction. As a consultant to numerous towns and cities across the state, Bob has won awards and funding for projects as diverse as Livingston Town Center and Hope VI housing projects in Orange, Elizabeth and Bridgeton, plus Jersey City. Bob served 20 years as chairman of the Redevelopment Committee of APA-NJ. He is a graduate of Leadership New Jersey and a past president of the Hudson River Waterfront Conservancy. He earned bachelors and masters degrees in planning at Rutgers. Bob was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners in 2012. He recently taught a course on Urban Redevelopment at Rutgers Bloustein School. He lives in Jersey City with his wife of 33 years – Laurie Cotter. They both retired in 2016 and relocated to Enfield, NC.
, Mercer Planning Associates
, Jersey City
Confirmed SpeakerCourtenay Mercer is the principal/owner of Mercer Planning Associates, a boutique planning firm providing assistance to diverse and complex planning projects in all types of communities. Her project experience ranges from rural conservation planning to urban redevelopment. In addition to relationships established through private practice, Courtenay capitalizes on the experiences and networks established as the former Planning Director at the NJ Office of Smart Growth and former NJ Director of Regional Plan Association. Courtenay has extensive experience with New Jersey planning issues, and has been involved in several key New Jersey policy initiatives, including the State Plan, the Highlands Regional Master Plan, and the Together North Jersey Plan. Courtenay also recently took on the role as consulting Director to Preservation NJ, leading a group of historic preservation advocates. Courtenay currently serves on the American Planning Association’s board of directors, and is past-president of APA’s New Jersey chapter. Courtenay is a New Jersey-licensed Professional Planner and certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners. She has a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University and a master’s in city and regional planning from the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers. She lives and works in Jersey City, NJ, where she is actively engaged in the community.
, Jersey City