Photo Courtesy of Chris Fry/Jersey Digs.

Ashook Persaude, an employee at the Journal Square Starbucks, waits for the morning rush to begin. As commuters enter and exit the establishment, he begins to notice a massive amount of congestion coming from the direction of the construction site that towers over the PATH transportation hub.

Persaude, 23,  who worked at the Starbucks in Journal Square during college, has seen hundreds to thousands of people rush their way in and out of the countless buses and trains that service the area.  

Many of the commuters who have to take the PATH to Journal Square have been greeted with a large construction site over the past couple of years. That construction site is the controversial Kushner building, which has been designed by Woods Bagot and developed by Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.  

Starting development in 2016, the Kushner building is expected to be two 64-story towers that will be connected at the base, which will be a commercial center about the size of one NFL football field. With a plethora of amenities, such as an olympic size pool and two landscape terraces, the construction is set to be finished by 2026. 

Until construction is done on the towers, locals and commuters coming in and out of Journal Square are expected to make their way through a makeshift walkway provided by the construction company that takes up most of the sidewalk along with limited bus service.

“It is a lot more congested because it is the main point of transportation into the city,” said Persaude.

While the city has put in an effort to help with the traffic such as providing alternate routes and easier access to Journal Square, some residents believe there is still room for improvements like alternative forms of transportation, better schedules and better communication among the city and its commuters.

“The efforts made by the city to assist commuters and locals in navigating the construction challenges in Journal Square are commendable, but there may still be room for improvement,” Juliette Pagan, a student at Saint Peter’s University, told Slice of Culture.  

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While the tower will bring interest to the city with a reported 1,723 units, most locals think that this has implications for gentrification.

“Jersey City is indeed experiencing the effects of gentrification. Economic investment, rising property value, demographic shifts, improved amenities and the displacement of low-income residents are all contributing factors,” Pagan said.

With the construction of the Kushner building running its course, it seems that Kushner has more ideas for more high-end living spaces with plans to put two skyscrapers behind Loew’s Theater, which was built between 1927 and 1930, and is considered one of the more historic buildings in Jersey City. 

“The developer of that site be it Kushner or someone else must also be an active supporter of the arts and specifically work with the friends of the Loew’s to support community programming for local artists and residents,Hudson County Commissioner Bill O’Dea said.

Although many locals are worried about the effects the construction can have on the city in the long term, Kushner and many other groups have seen Jersey City as a prime location for future endeavors.  

Jersey City is more accessible and it is more affordable than moving into the city,Angelica Santiago, a real estate agent at ExpRealty, told Slice of Culture.

While the fear of gentrification looms over Jersey City, there are still programs that benefit the citizens. With housing counseling programs like The Waterfront Project and city-ran programs that offer affordable housing resources to lower-income residents, it gives locals the ability to own houses which in return can be one way to ward off the effects of gentrification. 

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