Jersey City: Would You Pay $100 per Minute To Commute From Journal Square?

Jersey City: Would You Pay $100 per Minute To Commute From Journal Square?

By Jeff Vasishta August 30, 2016
Photo courtesy of

How can you tell if your neighborhood is likely to gentrify? If it costs you under three dollars and 30 minutes to get to Manhattan, count yourself on the list. Jersey City’s been on the list for a while. In fact, decade ago, while the waterfront downtown area was first reveling in new condos, the interior, past Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, wallowed in urban blight.

Related: Ain’t Nothin’ Goin’ On But The Rent

Now, the downtown area enjoys a turbo boost of development, and gentrification has filtered to other parts of town including Journal Square and the Heights. However, there are still large swathes of the largely black and Latino neighborhoods that remain abandoned or run down. Like nearby Newark, Jersey City’s calling card is its proximity to Manhattan and developers are rushing the area like commuters to an artisanal coffee giveaway.

Photo courtesy of

According to census data, the residents were up 6 percent to 262,000 from 2010-2014 and the increase in population means the development of almost 30,000 units of new housing, more than any in the State, according to the Mayor’s office.  All the telltale signs are there for a city experiencing sudden influx of wealthy new residents paying up to $2,500 per month in rent downtown for a one-bedroom apartment. Strollers are bottle necked at coffee shops. Brunch spots, engulfed by the smell of fried chicken and waffles, have lines spilling onto the sidewalk on weekends. With a Whole Foods, the arbiter of impending change, there’s little doubt that like parts of Brooklyn, Jersey City isn’t simply gentrifying, it’s already gentrified.

But many are unhappy with the high rises that have replaced older warehouses and factories, robbing the city of its flavor, giving it a sterile, soulless feel. Away from the waterfront, in Journal Square and elsewhere, older properties can be purchased and rehabbed but developers are eying transit hubs as the next place to send their bulldozers. Still, for now property prices are less in Journal Square than Grove Street. If a one-bedroom rental downtown (five minutes closer to the city) costs $2500/month and one in Journal Square costs $1500/month, it works out at about $100 in rent per minute of commuting time. Time is money.

Detrimental effects of such an economic upturn are displacement of people who have lived there forever and a sharp decline in diversity. Oona Jackson Moore of neighborhood groups such as Van Vorst Park Association are trying to bring attention to the demographic changes. While there are still inexpensive places for some displace residents to go, changes will eventually head that way too. The question for residents is, when will space run out? And when it does, what happens to those who have nowhere to go?

Jeff Vasishta



Jeff is a writer, husband and father but not necessarily in that order. As a music journalist he counts Prince, Beyonce and Quincy Jones amongst those he’s interviewed. He's also owned and flipped homes in Brooklyn, NJ, CT and PA.

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