From modern high rises to restored Victorians, Jersey City homes run the gamut, and Jersey Cityites love to look at and talk about real estate. In this photo essay we take a look at a few of the ways JC folks have chosen to live.
High Rise on the Waterfront
As we went to press, the luxury condos at Crystal Point were slated for occupancy. These images show models of units in this 42-story waterfront property. Located on Second Street with fabulous Manhattan views, it offers 269 one-, two-, and three-bedroom condominiums ranging between 800 and 1,817 square feet. All have floor-to-ceiling windows and some have front balconies. Other amenities include a full-service spa, fitness center, lounge, game room, kids’ play room, and screening room. An outdoor deck offers a lap pool, hot tub, cabanas, and dining area. The building will also have a concierge, valet parking, and restaurant.
Warehouse near the Waterfront
140 Bay Street had a number of lives before it was reincarnated as a condo building in the warehouse district. It was an ice making concern, a margarine factory, and currently sports the sign of the J. Leo Cooke Warehouse. I found resident Ian Hinonangan through his art gallery, Lenapeeps (JCM, spring/summer, 2009). Hinonangan, an artist and lawyer, lives in one of the condos with his partner, Julius Torres, a nurse, musician, and cook. “It was the warehouse feel of the community and of the building itself that attracted us,” says Hinonangan. “It is so well preserved with regard to the industrial look and feel.” Adds Torres, “The building is very artist friendly.” In fact, loading docks and ramps, wide corridors, double entrance doors, freight elevators, and flexible floor plans were all created with artists’ needs in mind. In the retail space below—capitalizing on Torres’s cooking skills—they opened the Warehouse Café and Bistro this fall, serving sandwiches, muffins, coffee, and other light fare. BYOB. Ian (left) and Julius appear on our cover with their dog Oneida.
Victorian in the Heights
Artist Lynn Mullins, her husband Andy Luck, and their eight-year-old son Desmond live in an 1890s Victorian wood frame house on Webster Avenue in the Heights. When they bought it in 2000, it wasn’t “in really bad shape,” says Mullins. “We just painted everything from top to toe. The guys who owned it had great taste but they were more conservative.” Mullins chose a very colorful palette of greens, pale lilacs, creamy whites, and aqua.
Her favorite parts of the house are the “medallions” in the ceiling—round plaster decorative elements that once held gas lamps.
The three-story house has about two rooms per floor, which doesn’t include two bathrooms, a pantry, and what Mullins calls a “weird closet room.” It has front and back gardens, and in the back a “skeeter shack,” a screened-in area that keeps those pesky insects out.
The neighborhood, she says, has a “really great collection of young and old people and newer residents who are very creative.” And because they don’t have “amenities like cafes and bars, we have monthly tapas parties in each other’s homes.”
As we drove through the neighborhood, there was a celebrity sighting—Richie Havens himself, standing on the sidewalk talking to a friend. Creative types indeed.
1930s Brick Row House in Lafayette
Artist Heidi Curko and her husband John Colangelo, who’s in the music business, bought a row house in the Lafayette section in 2005 and embarked on a massive restoration project, which resulted in a beautiful home for their growing family—daughters, ages 6 and 3.
“When we bought it, it was a total box of shit,” says Colangelo. “The prior owner was using it to raise fighting dogs. In the back was a concrete slab with shackles and chains embedded in it for upwards of 30 dogs.”
The only thing that exists from the old house, he says, is the “ceilings, a tiny bit of sheetrock, and four brick walls.” Colangelo refers to the entire project as a “gut job.”
He says the house is “a little more modern” than their last home, a Victorian on Bright Street. “We’re not ultra minimalist hipsters, but it’s tasteful with simple, clean lines.”
Exposed brick walls feature Curko’s art, and they added an airy dining room with glass walls overlooking a totally refurbished patio.
They painted the outside green, joining other neighbors who repainted their homes, improving the look of the entire street. They’re a stone’s throw away from Liberty State Park. Says Colangelo: “I can just go across the street to All Points West.”
Condo in a Renovated Factory
Wayne Saldanha and Lauren Rogers are fairly new to Jersey City and have lived in Dixon Mills for about a year. “We loved the old-world charm of it,” says Rogers. “It has the amenities of newer buildings, but with history. It’s really neat to experience this building which has been around for over a hundred years.”
Many units have exposed brick, hardwood floors, and fireplaces, and all have high ceilings and big windows, some of which overlook the cobblestone courtyard. Theirs is a duplex with stainless steel appliances and granite countertops. The complex recently opened a gym with a “lifestyle center,” sauna, movie theater, and yoga area.
“Outside it maintained its historic look, and inside the nooks and crannies in the hallways tell you that it used to be a factory,” Saldanha says.
Rumor has it, according to Rogers, that Frank Sinatra’s grandfather worked in the old pencil factory.
Brownstone near Van Vorst Park
Margaret Weber was a pioneer, venturing from Manhattan to Jersey City in the 1970s and moving into her brownstone in 1978. She did a major renovation in 1980-81 and is just completing another. “It’s an 1865 Italianate brownstone, and I’ve reinterpreted and modernized some things hopefully in a way that is respectful to the original.”
Most brownstones, she says, had kitchens on street level with “help” on the top floor. She moved the kitchen to the parlor floor and replaced some of the original hardware on the doors.
An artist and retired Jersey City art teacher, Weber’s studio and print shop are housed in her brownstone.
“The house has incredible character,” she says, “and many original details—the mantel, the mantel mirrors, fretwork, plasterwork—there are echoes of so many generations of families who lived here. It’s a magnificent house, and I’m happy to be one of the generations to take care of it for future generations.
“I’m quite amazed to be able to become the keeper of such an extraordinary piece of architecture.”—Kate Rounds