JERSEY CITY, NJ – Jersey City has a $ 6.7 million renovation planned for the pedestrian mall on Newark Avenue.

City officials announced the upgrades on Monday at a groundbreaking ceremony attended by the historic downtown’s Special Improvement District and small business owners along the square. Mayor Steven Fulop said the city will start upgrading immediately and is expected to be ready by mid-October.

The square was first closed to vehicle traffic in 2015 to limit traffic and create a pedestrian destination. The square continued to grow, and another block was added in 2018 following the square’s success and further expansion during the COVID-19 pandemic as demand for outdoor restaurants and pedestrian streets increased.

The $ 6.7 million will come from capital dollars, according to Mayor Fulop. “A long-term bond is a better way of saying this so that it doesn’t have a material impact on the budget from year to year.”

The square is cordoned off by cement planters and the roadway is painted green. The upgrades include new paving stones and surface improvements, new planters, lighting changes, and a stage. As construction prepares to begin immediately, Fulop plans to phase out work to accommodate outdoor dining and dining options.

“There’s no perfect time to do it. You can’t really do this kind of work in cold weather. So we’ll try to do it as soon as possible to minimize the impact on businesses,” said Fulop . “Ultimately, we think that the al fresco dining you saw in COVID is going to stay here in some form, and certainly we appreciate places like this even more now.”

According to the mayor, the vision of creating and expanding a pedestrian zone in the city center has been in the works for six years. Steven Kalcanides, president of HDSID and owner of Helen’s Pizza, said he has focused on a pedestrian street since joining HDSID in the 1990s.

“One of my goals was to have an enclosed street square that had a kind of European flair,” said Kalcanides. “I’m very excited about this, I know most companies do.”