Photo courtesy of Reena Rose Sibayan / The Jersey Journal.

After getting off the Journal Square PATH train, many Jersey City residents take the alleyway next to Loew’s Jersey Theatre on their way home. The city now plans to close that passage for up to two years while renovating the historic building. 

Residents gathered for a community meeting at Hudson County Community College to discuss how this closure will affect commute times and possible alternatives. According to a poster advertising this meeting, thousands of pedestrians would see an increase in their walking time–some by 20 minutes. 

The alleyway connects the PATH station to Magnolia Avenue at a distance of 280 feet. The only other way across is to travel west on Kennedy Boulevard, go up Tonnelle Avenue, then continue east on Magnolia Avenue until reaching the other side. This alternate route sums up to 1,785 feet, an additional 1,505 feet. 

Some locals are also concerned closing this shortcut could be potentially dangerous. 

People walk in an alley next to a parking garage on Magnolia Avenue which connects to an alley next to Loew’s Jersey Theatre in Jersey City on Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (Reena Rose Sibayan / The Jersey Journal)

“People in the parking lot in the back, what are they going to do?” Ward C Councilman Rich Boggiano told The Jersey Journal. “At nighttime, it’s not safe for people to walk around that much in these streets.”

Hudson County Commissioner Bill O’Dea and Tom Zuppa, who is running for Jersey City’s Ward C council position, wrote to Slice of Culture in a joint statement:

“I’m opposed to the closure for the complete disruption It will cause to JSQ’s residents commuting to and from work, as our neighbors are subjected to unregulated construction and lack of enforcement. Recognizing that the alleyway may need to close during certain times, we need to come to with a solution to keep the alley open during early morning and late evening hours to avoid disruption and ensure resident safety. I ask that JCRA and the construction team work with the community to come up with a plan to accommodate both our residents and what needs to be done to get the the Loew’s, the jewel of JSQ, back up and running.”

Mayor Steven Fulop originally introduced the Loew’s Jersey Theatre revitalization project in 2021.

It was initially estimated to cost $72 million, but that has jumped by $33 million–now estimated to cost $105 million. This construction is part of Fulop’s bigger renaissance plan for Jersey City that includes making Journal Square a booming arts and culture center. 

People walk in the alley next to Loew’s Jersey Theatre in Jersey City on Wednesday, March 20, 2024. (Reena Rose Sibayan / The Jersey Journal)

For the theatre, this will look like a partnership with Devils Arena Entertainment (DAE), operator of Prudential Center, to turn the century-old historic site into a modernized venue. The expected 3,300-seat hall will be technologically advanced with state-of-the-art visual and acoustic upgrades while preserving the historic infrastructure and features. 

Construction workers need to carry equipment and materials through the alleyway to make these improvements possible. City officials have said keeping the area open to the public while renovations are taking place can be hazardous to pedestrians.

Small businesses near Loew’s Alley, many present at the community meeting, offered to help with the project such as using the back entrance of stores to get through.

The Loew’s revitalization project has long been anticipated and is generally welcomed by most people. The city gave a 2022 start date, though construction is yet to be seen, and has an anticipated re-opening next year. 

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