Building a building with soul
Mack-Cali and Ironstate want tallest residential development to be a neighborhood
by Al Sullivan
Reporter staff writer
Jan 26, 2014 | 7283 views | 0 0 comments | 158 158 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mack Cali
BUILDING A NEIGHBORHOOD – This 69-story tower is designed to fill in the need for an old-fashioned neighborhood complete with public spaces.
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Breaking ground on the joint venture between Mack-Cali Realty Corporation and Ironstate development Company on Jan. 14, Ironstate President David Barry knew he was creating something more than just another residential development along the waterfront in Jersey City.

Even the distinction of the new venture being the tallest residential building in New Jersey didn’t quite capture what he was trying to do.

This isn’t just a new structure, it’s a community. What Barry hopes this 69-story multi-family residential tower will become is a neighborhood.

Called URL (Urban Ready Living) Harborside, the 69-story multi-family residential tower will provide 763 contemporary rental residences along the Jersey City waterfront.

The URL concept was developed by Barry to provide people with innovative housing that maximizes space, reduces energy use, provides close and easy access to public transit, and serves the community with cafes, shared work spaces, and residential rooftop gardens.

Barry, who has been working on this concept for years, said that idea was to provide public spaces that people can gather in and where they can have interaction in an age when many people are feeling isolated.
“This project speaks to the vibrancy of Jersey City.” – Mayor Steve Fulop
Many people meet other people on-line, but often do not have an opportunity to meet people in person, he said. He sees this as a key to the new urbanization that is currently underway as young professions flock back to cities like Jersey City.

This project is a model for a new community that will provide the new generation with an experience many previous urban dwellers enjoyed, a sense of neighborhood.

Developers have confidence in Jersey City?

Designed by acclaimed Dutch architecture firm Concrete, URL Harborside will be a flagship property with a distinctive tower reflective of its waterfront landscape.

Barry said this project is a direct response to the needs and desires of those looking to live in apartments that use less energy, provide more innovative spaces, and offer public areas that foster community.

The ambitious project will create hundreds of jobs in Jersey City, including construction and other full-time employment opportunities.

The new tower will rise on a vacant parcel adjacent to Mack-Cali’s Harborside Plaza 5 and will become the tallest residential tower in New Jersey. Further, the project will provide a new east-west connection of Bay Street within Harborside and add public spaces and retail vibrancy to the neighborhood. The location provides unparalleled easy access to public transportation via the Exchange Place PATH station, the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, and nearby ferry.

“This project speaks to the vibrancy of Jersey City, where development and investment continue to thrive,” Mayor Fulop said. “Not only will this be the tallest residential building in the state, the project also incorporates sustainability elements and develops a community-style concept through public spaces.”

Fulop said the project was something first developed under his predecessor, former Mayor Jerramiah Healy, but will be realized under his administration.

“This will be a terrific addition to the New Jersey skyline,” Fulop said. “Mack-Cali is one of the first to develop here, and Ironstate is one of the largest residential developers.”

Fulop and others at the press conference said they believed that the construction of a project of this magnitude showed the continued confidence developers, business and civic leaders have in Jersey City as a flourishing residential lifestyle and employment destination.

As of January, there are about 5,000 residential units under construction in Jersey City, and approvals in place for 12,000 more with work expected to commence on about half of these this year.

“We believe there is a strong demand for a live-work-play environment that offers a true sense of community – all in an amenity-rich, transit-oriented location,” said Mitchell E. Hersh, president and chief executive officer of Mack-Cali. “We chose to partner with Ironstate because of their vast experience and exceptional reputation in the development and management of high-rise residential real estate.”

A dream made real

Joseph Barry, one of the founders of Ironstate under its previous incarnation Applied Housing, said this project was a dream of his son, David, for many years.

“It was his concept to provide smaller apartments that would accommodate the new trend towards urbanization,” Joseph Barry said.

David Barry called this “a historic” and “interesting” moment in the New York area.

“Everyone is drawn to live here, but the costs of housing can be prohibitive. To meet modern housing challenges, we need creative and thoughtful solutions. URL provides a new paradigm for how people can live and work in the city – in a way that is affordable, sustainable and community oriented.”

Barry said he wanted to capture the feeling and advantages of the old neighborhood concept, but developing vertically rather than horizontally as was done in the past. This is the first of a new generation of neighborhood, he said, and it breaks away from the box design of past high rises, at the same time, attempts to break away from the social isolation previous high rise development imposed upon its residents.

Although the tower will rise in the vacant parcel adjacent to Mack-Cali’s existing Haborside Plaza 5, the existing facility will also see dramatic changes with a new east-west connection to Bay Street within Haborside. The mall-like space will be revamped to include public spaces and retail that will provide more opportunities for people to gather and meet.

Barry said the idea is to create an urban, neighborhood-like setting that has been lacking in many new facilities, and yet still provide those amenities that new urban dwellers expect, such as Wi-Fi, more storage, door locks opened with smart phones, roof deck, fitness center, and a filtered water system and other modern features while providing smaller, less expensive and more energy efficient spaces. Public spaces would include a lobby, café and other places where people can gather.

“We’re trying to create a place with a soul,” Barry said.

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