What’s in Waldo? Jersey City’s Powerhouse Arts District

by Staff
PowerHouse Arts District

WALDO (Work And Live District Overlay) can be thought of as Jersey City’s version of DUMBO, Brooklyn within a 12-block section in Downtown Jersey City. Formally known as Jersey City’s Powerhouse Arts District (PAD), the district is named as an homage to the former Hudson and Manhattan Railroad Powerhouse. This neighborhood is a resurging center with new art galleries, eateries, and high-rise residential developments.  

In years between the 19th century and Great Depression, this neighborhood was the center of some of the world’s largest manufacturing and wholesale warehouses, including the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company. The warehouses were vacated until recent zonings led to the development and cultural resurgence of the historical buildings.

“WALDO” was the name of the original planning strategy put in motion by the Urban Land Institute. The planning drafts scheduled for the renovation of two industrial buildings into loft apartments, half of which would be occupied by upcoming bohemian artists. The Waldo Lofts were resurrected out of this plan. The art scene was forced out of the district, originally stopping all progress on the neighborhood.   

Today, the industrial 12-block section is now a cultural hub in Jersey City. There is a resurgence of new art galleries and food and drink spots. While the following three eateries are within a block away from each other, there is a diversity in the inspiration and offerings of their shops.

PowerHouse Arts DistrictBucket and Bay:

After 17 years in finance, husband and wife owners Jen and Boris Kavlakov decided to invest in a more creative outlet. Jen was inspired by memories of her grandfather making vanilla ice cream out of a bucket in their basement. So, when the time came, she dove into opening her own shop in the summer of 2015, centered around gelato made from organic 100 percent grass fed milk served in gluten-free cones. The gelato flavors are inspired by their various travels, such as Purple Sticky Rice from Thailand and Rose Tea Latte from Beijing. A classic Deep Dark Chocolate, however, is their most popular flavor. Coming into the shop’s first anniversary, they are continuing business by facilitating relationships with other local businesses, such as coffee from ModCup and a beer-infused gelato featuring their neighbor brewery, Departed Soles.

DSC_2568Departed Soles:

New Jersey’s first and award-winning gluten free craft brewery was a dream discussed by friends, Brian Kulbacki and Chris Ward, respectively a Business Manager and teacher. In October 2010, Chris was commuting between jobs when involved in a fatal car crash. Brian decided in Spring 2012 to make Chris’s dream a reality. In 2015, Departed Soles was opened, offering a full range of craft beers, including gluten free varieties in respect to Chris’s earlier-diagnosed celiac disease.

Powerhouse Arts District Warehouse Cafe

Imagine a hipster’s Pinterest board, and you’re already halfway to experiencing the eclectic vibe of the Warehouse Cafe. Since opening in the fall of 2009, the cafe’s unique local artwork and furniture have contributed to its warehouse ambience. The cafe takes pride in serving coffee and tea, especially their highly praised Honey Latte. The taste of the coffee is credited to the coffee beans, which they source from the Intelligentsia Coffee and Tea retailer. In the neighborhood, they are known for their pastries and sandwiches, particularly their Avocado Toast.

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