The Hartz of the matter
Journal Square seen as the next, more affordable ‘Gold Coast’
by Al Sullivan
Reporter staff writer
Dec 22, 2013 | 5103 views | 0 0 comments | 108 108 recommendations | email to a friend | print
GOING UP – Parking lot next to Panepinto building on Journal Square will become the site of luxury housing
GOING UP – Parking lot next to Panepinto building on Journal Square will become the site of luxury housing
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That urban living is the new trend is no big secret. People are moving back into the cities, provided that the location and the housing stock are right. This could mean good things for places like Journal Square, which is but a hop, skip, and jump (or more rightly a few PATH stops) from Manhattan.

Gus Milano, Hartz Mountain Industries’ managing director for a project proposed by Hartz, says people can get the urban experience in Journal Square more economically than they can on the more pricy traditional Gold Coast near downtown.

“For 25 percent less, people can still live the same quality life,” Milano said.

Hartz-led PHM II Associates was recently awarded a $19.2 million tax credit, under EDA’s Transit Hub Tax Credit program, for a residential project expected to start construction early in 2014.

The 240 unit 13-story apartment building would be situated directly across Kennedy Boulevard from the Journal Square transportation center, making it nearly a perfect location for people seeking public transportation alternatives.

The building would be constructed above the existing foundation and parking deck that was built by Hartz’ partners in 1984.

Longtime dream

Redevelopment of the Journal Square area had been a dream of city fathers for decades. But plans began in earnest to make the dream a reality about a decade ago when the municipal government created a study area around the one-time shopping hub of the city to determine how it should be best redeveloped.

Unlike the waterfront area, Journal Square had not drawn the immediate interest of many traditional urban developers. They did not yet see the potential for a new urban landscape near the rail and bus link to downtown Jersey City and Manhattan in the east and the rapidly redeveloping core of Newark to the west.

Hartz has a history of redevelopment throughout Jersey City and Hudson County. The 13-story building will become one of the foundation projects of a newly-reborn Journal Square alongside the recently-approved Journal Square Center Towers.
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“Journal Square is a cross roads.” – Gus Milano
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Earlier this year, during a mayoral election debate, then Councilman Steven Fulop pledged to stir the coals of redevelopment in Journal Square that seemed to have gone out under previous administrations. Pointing across the street to a still-vacant lot, he said the site had become symbolic of the lack of progress.

The Hartz project, which is located on the northern edge of the redevelopment area, would become part of a new Journal Square as envisioned nearly a decade ago.

“We plan to begin construction in spring,” Milano said. “People are coming back to the cities. But many do not want to pay the high prices downtown or on the waterfront. But they can get the same level of quality for less in Journal Square.”

With the help of the state and city, the project will provide new first class housing stock that will attract renters who otherwise cannot afford prices along the waterfront. Originally proposed as an office building, rising prices downtown and the site’s location near the PATH station made the developers rethink the project and to shift to a residential plan.

The state has been pushing for more Transit Village redevelopment since the early 1990s, which combines residential and retail development for a mixed use that allows people living in the community to have easy access to services and public transportation.

“Journal Square is a crossroads,” Milano, said. “You have the PATH, businesses, and bus service that is second to none. We intend to provide a similar product as you can find downtown but at 25 percent less.”

The development will feature parking, common space, and gym and other amenities typically found in luxury rentals.

He said hoped to provide the first units to the public by 2015.

As an incentive, the project will make use of a tax credit from the state and a tax abatement at the city level. He believes this will have a ripple effect in Journal Square similar to that which LeFrak and Newport have had projects elsewhere in the city. Milano said these apartments will likely attract young professionals, most of whom will probaby work downtown or in Manhattan.

He said Hartz’s partners, Joe Panepinto and Frank Guarini, have a long history in the Journal square area.

Al Sullivan may be reached at asullivan@hudsonreporter.com.

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