Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, representatives from a powerful union, developer Larry Bijou, and various Hudson County officials broke ground on northern Hoboken’s newest building on Tuesday morning, the $131 million Park Place. The multifamily and retail structure, which will house 212 rental units as well as space for retail and education initiatives, will automatically become one of Hoboken’s most environmentally friendly structures, only the second in town to achieve LEED-certified Gold status.
“This project is a great example of the kind of positive development we can have when the community and developers work together to listen to each other,” said Zimmer. “This development makes a positive contribution to our community.”
The project, on Park Avenue just north of 14th Street, will be completed by early 2015.
It is unclear what types of businesses will be housed in Park Place’s retail space, but it was announced that the Elysian Charter School will move into the building’s 32,000 square feet of educational space.
Zimmer praised parents from the school for advocating for the building’s approval at various Zoning Board meetings. The project required several variances, said Zimmer, but parents’ advocating for educational opportunities on the north end of the city swayed the board.
“This development makes a positive contribution to our community.” – Mayor Dawn Zimmer
“Providing space for a charter school is important,” she said. “Our education system is the future of this city, and charter schools are an important aspect of that.”
Union built, union owned
Park Place is unique in that it will not only be built exclusively by union workers, but it will also be paid for and owned by the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). The union’s Building Investment Trust (BIT), which uses union members’ pension funds to invest in projects around the Tri-State area, identifies potential union-friendly construction projects that not only create jobs, but bolster the union’s assets.
“We make money on these projects; we do very well,” said BIT President Michael Stotz.
In its 25-year existence, the BIT has invested just over $2 billion in almost 30 construction projects in New Jersey and New York. It’s currently involved in 10 projects with a combined development cost of $1.4 billion. Together, the projects have created around 7,000 union jobs.
The president of the AFL-CIO’s New Jersey chapter, Charles Wowkanech, touted the project as a positive collaboration between the union and the city that would be a “double win” for both parties.
“We’re happy that we can use our own money to put our brothers and sisters in the union to work,” he said. “But the union investing in the community will not only create jobs, it will create jobs that will build a state-of-the-art environmentally-friendly building that will be a good thing for the community.”
According to Wowkanech, the project will create around 655 jobs for New Jersey union workers.
New Jersey State Building & Construction Trades President William Mullen commented that while building in Hudson County can be an exhausting endeavor, when projects like Park Place do break ground, the payoff is usually greater.
“It’s almost impossible to build anything around here,” he said, before thanking Zimmer for her support.
Zimmer also said she was pleased with Hoboken’s new partnership with the union, and joked that because the project will be constructed exclusively using union labor, it might not hit the roadblocks that have been a constant trend of Hoboken development.
“I know [the union workers] are highly skilled and that this project will get done right and on time,” she said. “I know you’ll be very careful with our water mains.”
Green as can be
Park Place will be the third LEED-certified (environmentally friendly) building in Hoboken constructed by Bijou properties. In addition to the typical LEED-friendly features, such as movement-sensitive common area lighting, the building will be entirely on its own energy grid, generating its own electricity and hot water, will include a green roof complete with solar panels, low-flow faucets throughout, and an automated, energy efficient parking structure that will house 383 cars.
“This building in many ways represents the next generation of the way buildings are built,” said Bijou. “It’s going to be a healthy environment to live in.”
The building was designed by the Hoboken architectural firm Marchetto Higgins Stieve Architects and will be built by Tishman Construction.
Bijou also noted that the building’s energy efficiency will be a plus for Elysian Charter.
“Children who go to schools in green building have better attendance records,” he said. “That’s a fact.”
Dean DeChiaro may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org