Stories produced by St. Peter's Journalism Students
By Claudia Loh, Class of 2016
At Saint Peter’s University most students encounter some type of hitch in their day, whether it be from missing the shuttle or dealing with weak Wi-Fi, but for many students finding parking can cause the biggest headaches.
Looking for parking is about to become a bigger problem in early 2015 when Saint Peter’s University and Sora Development will begin construction of a new 20-story building that will take up the Armory Lot on Montgomery Boulevard.
Like many others, senior commuter Kayla Hanley deals with the daily struggle of looking for parking. Kayla is a full time student and is sometimes late to class because finding a spot the school’s many lots can be difficult, even in the early morning.
“I leave my house between 7:00 and 7:30, it’s a 20 minute drive and there’s not too much traffic but when I get here the Rec lot is already packed,” said Kayla. “It’s filled with faculty, but half of them are residents and they’re not supposed to park there.”
Saint Peter’s provides students and faculty seven parking lots in the surrounding area. These lots are open for commuters to park in but the Armory lot is the only place for residence to park their vehicles. Many commuter students use this lot as a last resort when the other lots are full.
“That’s where a lot of residents fit, if the rec lots packed that’s where I go,” said Kayla. “Where would I park then? Cause you’re not building another one here. Where are you putting us for two years?.”
It is no exaggeration that this lot is going to be a big loss for the commuting students and faculty. According to Dr. Eugene Cornacchia, University President, “As part of the agreement, our partners are required to identify alternate parking for cars that may be displaced during the construction phase.”
On the Saint Peter’s University’s website it states that the 20-story tower will have 300 beds for students while the remaining 430 apartments, will be rented out to the public for market rate. This project will cost $210 million but according to Dr. Cornacchia none of this money will be coming from student’s tuition, instead it will be funded through private equity sources and investors.
The development’s goal is revitalize McGinley square and expand the university. There are many amenities that will part of this building, such as a movie theater, shopping, and dining.
“Saint Peter’s Tower will be transformative for the McGinley Square neighborhood,” said Dr. Cornacchia. “The revitalized area will become an attractive choice for living, shopping, dining, outdoor recreation and entertainment. In addition, it will catalyze the linkage between Journal Square and McGinley Square, and reestablish McGinley Square as one of Jersey City’s premier destinations. We also hope it will help us to attract future students and provide excellent amenities for our current students and employees.”
The new tower’s amenities seems like it will be a great addition for all students, especially for residents who will have more social options during the school year.
“I think it’ll be good for residents,” said Chris Dapat. “My resident friends always complain that there’s nothing to do around here on the weekends.”
Though this project sounds beneficial for both the Saint Peter’s community as well as Jersey City community, some students are still unsure about the project.
Sophomore Manny Duran said, “I honestly don’t know why they’re doing it because they have to repair so many things in their main campus already.” Though the university has updated the computer systems and projectors in many rooms the technology at this school is old and outdated.
“All the money that their investing in that 20 story building should be invested in the buildings that we have already to update them and make them nicer,” said Manny.
Manny recalls a time in her Social Justice class when her professor had to climb onto a chair because the projector wasn’t turning on so the had to use a ruler to reset it. The technology isn’t the only thing students feel needs to be changed. Many commuters feel it is difficult to get involved in the school. Saint Peter’s University currently has a rough estimate of 3,000 students, 750 of those students reside on campus while the other 2,250 students are commuters. Many commuter students go to school but then go straight home because there is nothing to do once they are finished with class.
Though Saint Peter’s has events for the students most events begin too late or end too late for commuters to get home safely. Chris Dapat said that he was a part of the Asian club but stopped going because meetings were changed from noon to 6 at night to accommodate the residence.
“The school only gives us (commuters) one floor and that’s all the give us,” said sophomore Ben Ryan.
But according to Dr. Cornacchia this new building is not just for residence nor to make profit.
“It will provide additional options for dining and entertainment for faculty and commuter students, as well as residential students. In addition, it will provide a safe and convenient place to park vehicles. The increase in visitors, foot traffic, lighting, and security surveillance will undoubtedly make the neighborhood safer,” said Dr. Cornacchia.
Members of the Jersey City community have taken to online public forums, including a Google group chat to express their feelings about this new venture. The forum is run by the Highland Ave Neighborhood Association based in Jersey City and is headed by John Hanussak. We contacted Hanussak for a comment but he did not return our emails.
In this forum members speak about the lack of diversity that this building will bring to the community. One of the people who voiced their opinion about this building is a professor at Saint Peter’s. The professor, who is not identified writes, “Unfortunately there do not seem to be any plans of making this a truly mixed-housing building, for various incomes, for mid-sized families, etc. I really think it ought to try to include various sectors of the city so that it doesn’t just become part of the gentrification process and just another satellite of Manhattan in Jersey City where the wealthy & young sleep when they are not working across the river.”
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “Gentrification is the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents.”
One woman on this forum is not the least bit worried about this building having a negative affect on the community. She writes, “This is a home run for McGinley Square. That is the perfect spot for revitalizing that area and bring JOBS, stores, restaurants, and all supporting mechanisms with them.”
This new building seems luxurious, but many said they are not fooled by the new amenities this building would provide.
“I think they should fix and make the buildings they currently have better before they go out and build a new one with stuff that no one needs,” said sophomore Michael DeMoya.