Jersey City, developers fight for ability to build Bayonne Box homes

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JERSEY CITY -

Jersey City residents say a type of architecture is harming the historic appearance of their city, while developers are fighting to continuing building.

The type of home is called the "Bayonne Box," which are square homes that have been built by the thousands in Newark, Jersey City and Bayonne over the past few decades.

The homes are cheap to build and bring the lifestyle of being able to park in your own garage.

Detractors have said the architecture style is ugly, and now preservationists say many historic homes are being torn down in favor of the Bayonne Box.

"With every tear-down that happens, we lose a little more aesthetic, a little more history, a little more culture," says Paul Amatuzzo of the Pershing Field Neighborhood Association. "It's a sad sight because the new houses are built very quickly and very cheaply."

Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop responded to the complaints by instituting a moratorium on home demolitions until a new ordinance can be passed requiring historic reviews on homes slated to be torn down.

Right now, only homes more than 150 years old require such reviews.

Developer Ricardo DeCruz defended the use of the Bayonne Box, saying many have improved neighborhoods by replacing decrepit homes. He also says he has changed the style of some of his buildings to not appear like other Bayonne Boxes.

DeCruz and three other developers are suing to block the moratorium and vow to fight the ordinance so that they can continue building.

City Council introduced the historic review ordinance Wednesday and it requires one more vote before it can become law.

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