Master Plan Vision
The transformation and modernization of the Hudson County Justice Complex is planned as a catalyst for the revitalization of the Journal Square community in Jersey City. Through the construction of the Honorable Frank J. Guarini Justice Complex and the renovation of the landmark William J. Brennan Courthouse, Jersey City will create a new civic district.
Removal of the outdated Hudson County Administration Building at 595 Newark Avenue, which currently houses a majority of the County’s court spaces, will open a large, prominent and well-located site to higher uses, including parkland.
History & Need
William J. Brennan Courthouse
The Hudson County Courthouse, now called the William J. Brennan Courthouse, opened in 1910. The Superior Court - Hudson Vicinage, Criminal, and Family Courts, were relocated to the Hudson County Administration Building in 1957, leaving the Beaux-Arts granite neighbor largely abandoned. Since restored, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and rededicated, the William J. Brennan Courthouse now houses approximately 80% of the Civil Courts, three Appellate Courts, and several administrative functions including the County Executive’s offices.
The Hudson County Administration Building at 595 Newark Avenue, though relieved of some functions, continues to be inadequate to serve the needs of the Hudson County Vicinage and does not meet current court standards defined in the New Jersey Courthouse Facility Guidelines (2009). Since the 1980s, numerous studies have determined that the Hudson County Administration Building is inadequate and overburdened, all concluding that the building should be replaced and that it would be "enormously expensive" to address the security, electrical, and asbestos problems.
"The entire infrastructure is essentially kept alive with Band-Aids."Hudson County Admin. Building
A 1988 "Court Facilities Needs" study by the National Center for State Courts found:
The Administration Building is "functionally unsatisfactory in terms of circulation, structural and environmental systems for the general, judicial and ancillary functions of a court building" "most...functional areas were rated unsatisfactory in terms of security control, private access and use, and control of light, sound, temperature and atmosphere. It would be enormously expensive to remedy the building's security problems, inadequate electrical wiring and asbestos problems. A more sensible approach would be an entirely new building in order to meet the functional needs of the court." "The Administration Building's heating and ventilation system is unable to meet the needs of the building. Some rooms have been rendered unusable at times due to extreme temperatures."
From 1991-1993, the Freeholder Board commissioned a "Hudson County Government Center Master Plan and Space Requirements Program" which found:
"The County Administration Building is past its prime and is in deteriorating condition requiring constant and costly repair by the County. In addition, it is of an antiquated design not compatible with modern government use. The building is large, but has an inappropriate physical layout providing less than effective work space and circulation. The various functional deficiencies, as well as mechanical/electrical and other system deficiencies of the facility have been well documented over the years in several major evaluations and reports initiated by the County. If the building it to be retained and substantially renovated for future expansion needs it must by law be upgraded. In order to upgrade the building to a level of modern acceptability as a government work space, it must be entirely gutted and rebuilt from the existing structure out. The cost of such an extensive renovation is prohibitive and the resulting modernized building would still possess a seriously deficient functional layout. The Planners are recommending that this building be replaced."
Since the building has a single central corridor, it lacks basic separation of the public, judges, victims of crimes, witnesses in trials, undercover officers, and defendants, who frequently cross paths outside of the courtrooms. Courtroom functions have inefficient space and configurations, which are not suited to deliver modern court services. Administrative areas are not configured efficiently or in compliance with the applicable New Jersey Courthouse Facility Guideline standards.