On the rise
Luxury apartments, office space kept sprouting in 2014
by Carlo Davis
Reporter staff writer
Dec 28, 2014 | 18542 views | 0 0 comments | 169 169 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DEVELOPMENT
TOWER TRIFECTA—The first phase of the Journal Squared development in Jersey City is only 54 stories high, but the following one will be the tallest building in New Jersey at 74 stories.
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From the first new Hoboken redevelopment plan in decades to the continued buildout of the Port Imperial community in Weehawken, local cities saw or will see thousands of new residential units along the Gold Coast during this decade, not to mention office complexes. For those priced out of New York or unenthusiastic about the suburbs, the area provides great views and greater convenience. Jersey City, in particular, saw staggering growth in the first full year of Mayor Steven Fulop’s tenure.

Jersey City: Much happening in Journal Square

Development isn’t just for the Jersey City waterfront anymore. This year saw many projects in the interior of Jersey City, accelerated by Fulop’s sweetening of tax abatement deals on those inland projects. The success of past investment around Grove Street and the waterfront was also an encouraging factor.

In particular, Journal Square has seen a massive shift. After 25 years without a major development project, the area now has around 20 projects under construction or consideration, with more seemingly popping up every month.

The Journal Squared development leads the way, and typifies both the bulk and transit proximity prized by new developers in the area. On land directly behind the Journal Square Transportation Center at the corner of Summit Avenue and Pavonia Avenue, KRE Group will build the tallest residential tower in New Jersey at 74 stories, along with two companion towers at 54 and 60 stories. All told, the buildings will house 1,840 rental apartments and 60,000 square feet of retail space.

Phase 1, the 54-story, 540-unit tower, broke ground this year and is expected to be completed in 24 months. The apartments are expected to rent at $1,500 for a studio and $3,500 for a three-bedroom—market rate, but of a class previously little seen in Journal Square.

KRE Group Executive Vice President Jeff Persky said he expects the Journal Squared project to trigger the same transit-oriented revitalization that previously occurred around the Grove Street and Exchange Place PATH stops. The Journal Square stop is only a 10-minute ride from the World Trade Center and a 20-minute ride from 33rd Street in Manhattan.

The momentum generated by Journal Squared’s approval and groundbreaking is already becoming visible. In March, HAP Investments LLC purchased an 80,000-square-foot lot a stone’s throw away from the Journal Squared site at 500 Summit Ave. While nothing has been officially proposed, HAP hopes for a 42-story, $400 million tower.

At least three more huge projects are being pursued at the very heart of Journal Square. The first, a 525-unit, 40-story tower proposed by Kushner Companies and KABR Group and known as 30 Journal Square, would rise like a staircase behind the old Jersey Journal headquarters. The second, called 3 Journal Square, will bring a 13-story tower with 240 rental units across the street. The Hartz Mountain Industries-led project received a 30-year tax abatement in November.

The final behemoth in the works is City Center Towers, two 60-story skyscrapers proposed by Multi-Employer Property Trust. The structures are connected by a skybridge in some proposed designs, and boast 1,500 residential units and 150,000 square feet of retail.

Trump and other Jersey City projects

While the imminent boom in Journal Square drew the most attention this year, towers continue to rise at a bewildering pace in downtown Jersey City. In May, Kushner Companies and the KABR Group broke ground on Trump Bay Street, a 55-story, 447-unit residential tower that will mirror the current Trump Tower on Morgan Street.

A block away, Mack-Cali Realty Corporation and Ironstate Development broke ground in January on the first of three 69-story towers in their joint Urban Ready Living Harborside project. If completed as expected by mid-2016, the tower will temporarily be the tallest building in New Jersey – until Journal Squared Phase 2 is complete.

The development is envisioned as the residential component of Mack-Cali’s Harborside office complex, which is currently being renovated to upgrade its ground level retail and add a beer garden and market dining area. The first URL Harborside tower will contain 766 units, and the other two towers will add 1,592 more apartments.

Mitchell E. Hersh, president and chief executive officer of Mack-Cali, said “We believe there will be strong demand for this type of unique and efficient housing for young urban professionals supporting the workforce in the vast industries doing business in the metropolitan area.”

A few blocks south of Harborside, China Construction America plans to spend $450 million building two 60-story mixed-use towers containing 1,000 residential units and a luxury hotel. And above the Grove Street PATH station, the first of two 50-story mixed-use towers developed by Ironstate and Panepinto Properties is currently under construction and expected to open in 2015.

Even the historic structure that gives part of downtown Jersey City its name could soon see large-scale construction. Cordish Companies hopes to build a 40-story residential tower adjoining the historic Powerhouse building, which it also owns. The new building would be the most prominent element of a $179 million Cordish development plan that could bring retail and entertainment inside the Powerhouse itself.

Hoboken

In 2014, the administration of Mayor Dawn Zimmer overcame some of their wariness toward development and displayed a halting openness to new residential construction. The City Council appointed planners for two redevelopment areas and reappointed one for a third. And at its final meeting of the year, the body approved a massive redevelopment plan for the NJ Transit-owned Hoboken rail yards near the border with Jersey City.

Under that plan’s parameters, the state transit agency and its designated developer LCOR may soon be able to build 2.3 million square feet of new mixed-use development, split between office and residential towers and oriented around the Hoboken transit terminal.

While unquestionably the most significant development plan approved in Hoboken since the 1990s, the Hoboken Yards will proceed on a much smaller scale than is currently favored in Jersey City. The plan spreads a total floor area equal to that of the Journal Squared project out over eight buildings.

Next year, the city is likely to vote on yet another key redevelopment plan, this time for the Western Edge, a post-industrial sliver along the Hudson Bergen Light Rail tracks. Two past attempts at a plan have stalled, but the area remains highly sought after for its residential development potential.

The last significant building approved in the Western Edge, Bijou Properties’ 11-story residential tower at 900 Monroe St., is under construction and heading for a November 2015 anticipated completion. The project is expected to be LEED Gold-certified and will contain 135 market rate rental units and 13,000 square feet for retail and child care.

Bijou is building a few other projects away from the waterfront. Park & Garden, a 212-unit luxury rental building developed by Bijou Properties, is projected to be complete by May after three years of work. Featuring LEED-certified design, Park & Garden will feature a gas turbine that cogenerates electric power. It will also become the new home of the Elysian Charter School.

Some rejections

Two proposed projects on the far west side of town, a 13-story, two-tower complex from the Pegasus Group and a two building, 10-story concept backed by Jeffrey Mandelbaum, were struck down by the Hoboken Zoning Board this year. Had they been approved, the vast majority of the Western Edge would have been effectively redeveloped by variance.

Another notable development rejection was the Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders’ decision in October to uphold a 2012 county Planning Board ruling blocking the controversial Monarch at Shipyard project on the upper waterfront. Ironstate Development has tried for three years to get permission to build two 11-story residential towers on a pier on the northeast corner of Hoboken, where it had originally promised tennis courts. Anti-Monarch public outcry won the day before the freeholders, but the battle continues in the courts.

More on the waterfront

A block away from the dilapidated Monarch pier, Toll Brothers has finally broken ground on the last stage of their Hoboken Cove Planned Unit Development, a 12-story, 236-unit condo building known as 1400 Hudson. The complex replaces a mostly vacant lot. It will aim for a similar design and level of luxury as 1450 Washington across the street, said Toll Brothers Vice President Henry Waller, with three roof decks and an outdoor pool. According to Waller, the building should be complete in two years.

It’s easy to see why Toll Brothers decided to build 1400 Hudson now, despite receiving initial approvals for development on the site as far back as 1998. People just can’t wait to move to Hoboken, apparently. The firm’s newest Hoboken condo building, 1100 Maxwell Place, was only completed in March, but Waller said it is already two-thirds occupied. The 12-story, 210-unit building is also pitched towards luxury, but it had an interest list with over 1,000 names as early as May 2013.

Also this year, the last stage of Hoboken’s paradigm-shifting South Waterfront redevelopment was completed. SJP Properties’ 14-story Waterfront Corporate Center III opened its doors in November, and anchor tenant Pearson has begun to occupy its five floors of office space. Tenants have already been found for three-fourths of the units, according to SJP Executive Vice President Jeffrey Schotz, including startup Jet.com, a Montessori school and a New York steakhouse.

Weehawken

Several major projects within the $2 billion, 6,000-residential unit Port Imperial development along the waterfront are under construction or were completed this past year. The Port Imperial master plan stretches from Weehawken to Guttenberg.

Just south of the Port Imperial Ferry Terminal, the first of five condo buildings on the Weehawken waterfront was completed this summer. The seven-story, 74-unit ultra-luxury residence is already serving as proof of concept for the Avenue Collection condo complex and its developer Lennar Urban.

Despite price tags ranging from $800,000 to $4 million, the 1000 Avenue at Imperial condo building was 60 percent sold upon its ribbon-cutting in July, and has risen to 70 percent since.

Lennar has already broken ground on the next stage, a 103-unit building at 1200 Avenue at Imperial, and will build 669 condos altogether.

Further south near Lincoln Harbor, Roseland Property and Hartz Mountain held the grand opening for the Estuary, a 582-unit, three-building luxury rental complex, in February. New occupants are paying between $1,740 and $5,185 for well-appointed apartments and communal amenities like a golf simulator, dog run, and bocce ball court.

RiverParc at Port Imperial, another major Roseland rental development in Weehawken, is in the later stages of construction. The 10-story complex will hold 280 luxury rentals, not to mention an outdoor terrace with hot tub and fire pit and an in-house cinema screen.

As part of its agreement with the township of Weehawken, Roseland is spending $2 million on the construction of a linear park along the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway just south of the Port Imperial ferry terminal. The new open space will feature a pair of playgrounds, an overlook garden, and refurbished steps leading up to Boulevard East. Construction began in May.

Secaucus and Meadowlands

Secaucus is poised for the potentially large effects of a new mega-mall next door, as plans for the long-delayed American Dream Meadowlands facility in East Rutherford finally fell into place this year. Following the settlement of a lawsuit against the mall filed by the New York Jets and Giants, groundbreaking for the mall’s renovation and completion took place in August, according to The Bergen Record.

The mall’s new owner, the Triple Five Group, expects to spend almost $2 billion more to complete the project, which will include an amusement park and an indoor ski slope and water park. Retailers will include Victoria’s Secret, Saks Fifth Avenue, and FAO Schwarz, according to documents released by Triple Five in December.

Industrial space is also a hot commodity in Secaucus, with new data storage facilities and distribution centers under construction. Hartz has announced it is building a 300,000 square foot warehouse at the site of the former Panasonic headquarters and is also overhauling a 650,000 square foot warehouse formerly occupied by Panasonic, with 450,000 square feet already leased to plumbing supplier Ferguson Enterprises for a distribution center. Century 21 received $40 million in tax incentives from the state to purchase a 340,000 square foot warehouse in Secaucus and expand business there rather than move to New York.

Bayonne

All signs point to a full recovery from the recession in Bayonne’s housing market. A number of prominent new residential buildings came on line in the last year, and more are expected soon after the city made key moves to open development on the former Military Ocean Terminal.

In downtown Bayonne, the renovation of the former Maidenform factory at Avenue E and Eighteenth Street is finally complete. Opened to leases in April, the new Silklofts complex comprises 85 rental apartments spread across four buildings.

In October, Mayor James Davis was on hand to cut the ribbon for Camelot at Bayonne, a 96-unit luxury apartment building near the waterfront. Kaplan Companies spent $22 million building the four-story complex, which is split half-and-half between one and two-bedroom rentals.

Kaplan Companies has seen strong interest in Camelot, with sixty percent of its leases already taken, according to spokesman Jason Segal, and the developer is eager to move forward with its larger plans for the Promenade at Bayonne, a mixed-use community at the foot of the Bayonne Bridge featuring 1,000 residential units, 60,000 square feet of offices, 134,000 square feet of retail, and a marina.

The ambitious project, which was first approved in 2007, will be built in six stages. In June, the Bayonne City Council reaffirmed Kaplan Companies’ designation as the redeveloper of the site, formerly the Texaco Oil Terminal.

Meanwhile, Bayonne has cleared the way for new development on the former Military Ocean Terminal, settling one lawsuit over a key project there and approaching settlements on two others.

The lawsuits arose after former Mayor Mark Smith, seeking to avert a state takeover triggered by a budget gap of at least $20 million, sold 130 acres of the Terminal to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in 2010.

Fidelco Bayonne Realty LLC, Trammell Crow Residential, and Bayonne Bay Developers LLC challenged the sale, arguing that their agreements with the city specified that no container port would be built on the peninsula. As of December, the city had reached a deal with Trammell Crow, whose 544-unit Alexan CityView complex on the peninsula is already complete, and had nearly signed a deal with Fidelco.

As part of the deal, the Bayonne City Council awarded Fidelco a 30-year tax abatement for its Harbor Station North development, which will bring 850 residential units and roughly 10,000 square feet of commercial space.

In March, the city also released six proposals for the build-out of Harbor Station South, another sought-after chunk of the Terminal, although their status is unclear after former Mayor Smith was defeated in June. Most of the plans called for a combination of apartments, townhouses, hotels, and retail on the 57-acre property.

Union City and West New York

Development was quieter in Union City and West New York, which are largely built up. However, the multi-year battle over a high-rise apartment complex on John F. Kennedy Boulevard East raged on. At a series of public hearings before the West New York Zoning Board this year, residents spoke out against Meridia Le Boulevard, a proposed 13-story, 157-unit building they say will increase traffic and harm the character of the neighborhood. Opponents were also unhappy that none of the complex would be set aside as affordable housing units.

According to NJ.com, representatives from Capodagli Property Company, the developer of Meridia, defended their plans as a “complementary addition” to the neighborhood and an intermediate point between taller and lower buildings nearby. The Zoning Board hearings will continue into 2015.

North Bergen and Guttenberg

A new waterfront park that spans between North Bergen and Guttenberg along the Hudson River waterfront was completed this year. The park features a playground, amphitheater, and several grass fields. Most of the $2.8 million needed to construct the park came from the Hudson County Open Space Trust fund.

Al Sullivan, Art Schwartz and Joe Passantino contributed to this report. To comment on this story on-line, go to our website, www.hudsonreporter.com.  Carlo Davis may be reached at cdavis@hudsonreporter.com.
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