When it comes to development, especially on the waterfront, Hudson County has bucked the national trends of doom and gloom brought about by a sagging economy.
"This has been a good year for development in Jersey City," commented Bob Cotter, director of development for the Jersey City Planning Department. "A lot of projects got completed during the year. [And] there will be a lot of ribbon-cutting going on in 2003."
The Hoboken and West New York waterfronts are seeing new luxury housing, and both West New York and Union City saw affordable housing units further inland. Both Jersey City and Hoboken hosted new office buildings, luring firms from Manhattan.
Secaucus approved a private 212-unit townhouse development, which will include 12 affordable housing units. Weehawken saw the re-election of an administration that supports the proposed $500 million 1,643-unit residential complex underway on its waterfront. It will take 10 years to complete.
Both the Downtown and Newport sections of Jersey City, traditionally sites of large-scale development, saw the completion of office centers, a hotel and meeting center, and the expansion of the retail capacity of the Newport Mall last year.
Nearing completion is the Goldman Sachs building, going up at 30 Hudson St. in Paulus Hook. The 41-story tower will be, when completed in 2003, the tallest building in New Jersey. The tower will have a total of 1,254,273 square feet of office space. The ultimate number of Goldman Sachs employees that will finally occupy the building is unknown. Recent news reports quoted New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg as stating Goldman Sachs employees would not be making the journey across the Hudson River, but a Goldman Sachs spokesperson said that an estimated 1,000 employees would be moving once the project is completed.
Mack-Cali completed construction on the 350-room Hyatt Regency on the riverfront. The nine-story hotel and meeting center opened in July at 2 Exchange Place. The Hyatt was built to serve the financial community located both at the nearby Harborside Financial Center and across the Hudson River in lower Manhattan.
Another Mack-Cali project that crossed the finish line in 2002 was Harborside Plaza 5. Located in Harborside Financial Center, Plaza 5 is a 34-story, 980,000 square-foot tower, with a 1,200-car parking garage. Additional office space in the form of Harborside Plaza 10 was finished, adding 518,578 square feet of rental space to the Harborside complex. Also completed this year was Pier House I, a part of the North Pier Apartments project. Pier House I has 153 dwelling units, while the entire project is expected to have 300 luxury residential units.
The LeFrak Organization, which started the development ball rolling in Jersey City in the mid-1980s, completed Newport Office Center V and Newport Office Center VI, both located near Washington Boulevard and the PATH station. Employees from banking and investment firm JP Morgan Chase moved this year into the 21-story, 704,510 square-foot building. Center V also features a total of 15,584 square feet of retail space. Also in 2002, Chase began making a home in the 10-story, 293,430-square foot Newport Office Center VI. The Chase buildings also feature gallery spaces, which have displayed a new number of Jersey City artists.
LeFrak was also busy with the completion of the Lincoln residential building, which possesses a total of 153 dwelling units and has a 150-space parking capacity. Unveiled in early December was the redeveloped Newport Town Square, located near the Lincoln. Originally a cement plaza constructed during the early stages of development in Newport, the LeFrak Organization added green space in the form of trees and lawns and also constructed a small amphitheater for musical performances.
In December, Macy's Department Store in the Newport Mall moved to a new location in that shopping complex, occupying 237,000 square feet of new retail space in the mall.
At a special Dec. 23 meeting of the Hoboken Planning Board, the body approved a large-scale residential development for the old Maxwell House site on the northern Hoboken waterfront, between 10th and 12th streets.
The approval came after 18 months of twists and turns in the planning process. Activists were concerned about the project's scale and other aspects, but the Planning Board finally accepted the application for development after the developer made concessions to lower the number of units and create more open space. The approved project calls for 832 units with nearly five acres of open waterfront space. There will be luxury apartments and condos, with more than 1,500 parking spaces.
On the south waterfront, international publishing giant John J. Wiley & Sons began to move 900 employees into its new corporate headquarters on River Street on July 1. The firm has relocated from Midtown Manhattan into the first of two 13-story office buildings on the Hoboken waterfront. Wiley now has become the single largest employer in the mile-square city.
Wiley & Sons publishes scientific, technical and medical journals. The company generated $613 million in revenue last year.
Joining Wiley in phase one of the corporate center were Japanese bank Sumitomo Trust & Banking, CPR (USA)/ Liberty View Capital Management, and Fuji Securities, each taking one floor.
When finished, the Waterfront Corporate Center, which is being developed by SJP Properties, a Parsippany-based commercial builder, will include two 550,000 square-foot office buildings - a total of 1.1 million square feet of coveted Class A office space.
Phase two is 85 percent leased, according to SJP officials. Marsh & McLennan Companies, a leading professional services firm, has signed a long-term lease for 425,000 square feet of office space. Phase two is scheduled to be completed in the third quarter of 2003.
On the southern waterfront, which runs along the waterfront from First to Fourth streets, the corporate center is joined by a residential building at 333 River St., which was built by the Applied Companies in partnership with Starwood Heller, LLC. Applied, one of the major players in the area's luxury apartment market, is now filling its $100 million E-shaped building, which offers 526 studios and one-, two- and three- bedroom units and over 60,000 square feet of street level retail.
That only leaves one third of the southern waterfront redevelopment left to be developed. The Hoboken City Council voted 8-1 at its Dec. 4 meeting to approve an amendment that changed the dimensions of, and set height and density limits for, that last block. Now the city can select developers to begin building a luxury hotel and office building there. The hotel will be the only one in the city.
In Union City
From three-family houses to 175-unit apartment buildings, construction is planned throughout Union City.
Although Union City does not have waterfront property or extensive open areas, developers are finally taking stock there. The Renaissance Building, a 37-unit affordable housing project on 27th Street and Central Avenue with about 30 units, opened to tenants in June.
A private 175-unit residential building planned for 44th Street in Union City was approved by the city's Zoning Board at their April 11 meeting. The planned six-story building, owned by Raffi Arslanian of Hudson Villa, LLC, will replace the Nu Method Dye Factory that was abandoned after a fire more than 10 years ago. The new building will house 165 one-bedroom units and 10 two-bedroom units with a laundry room on each floor.
Talk of rehabilitating the Yardley Steps located between 600 and 610 Palisade Ave. in Union City started five years ago. However, it appears that plans to rehabilitate the Yardley Steps, as they are known due to the Yardley Soap Factory next to them, are finally underway. At the Sept. 3 Board of Commissioners meeting, the board authorized the city clerk to advertise for bids to solicit contractors for service for Hillside Terrace Pedestrian Pathway, which is the new name of the Yardley Steps.
In West New York
Substantial growth on the waterfront on the West New York waterfront has helped fund several new affordable housing projects. This year saw the completion of three major waterfront projects, "Riverside West" condominiums, the "Riverbend Condominium," and a two-mile section of riverfront walkway that stretches from Weehawken to West New York.
These projects in part allowed West New York to make strides when it came to affordable housing projects, as waterfront developer Roseland Properties had agreed to contribute $4,000 to affordable housing for every unit of luxury housing they built.
On Oct. 16, the city dedicated the Chris Jackman Towers on Fillmore and 60th streets. The building has 108 units, 83 of which are designated as affordable housing units, with the rest being offered at "market rate."
The Gilchrist Building is an 18-unit affordable housing building opened on May 15 on Madison Street, just one block west of Bergenline Avenue.
Dewey Manor, formally an abandoned garage and empty lot, will be the next site to receive occupants. The site will contain 17 three-bedroom units and parking on the lower level.
These projects are funded through federal, state, and county grants as well as Roseland Properties. The state of New Jersey, through its Balanced Housing and Loan Program, provided more than $3.5 million. Roseland Properties, developer of the town's Jacob's Ferry waterfront development, contributed $1.2 million as part of its funding agreement with the town. The Town of West New York donated two parcels of land.
The Hudson County Home Loan program contributed $1.48 million, the West New York Housing Authority contributed $260,000, and the Federal Home Loan Bank contributed $400,000 in loans.
WNC Associates, a California-based investment group, bought nearly $1.7 million in tax credits under the Federal Housing Mortgage Finance Agency tax credit program, which generated $13.4 million for the housing program.
Secaucus and Weehawken
Two towns that have not seen major residential development projects in a while saw plans move forward for new housing last year.
In October, a Secaucus developer received approvals from the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission (NJMC) to build a 212-unit townhouse development on a 16-acre site. The project is located at the end of Meadowlands Parkway, roughly south of Paterson Plank Road.
Construction is scheduled to start next spring, with initial sales slated for Sept. 2003. The housing units will run from $300,000 to $400,000, except for the 12 affordable housing units whose cost will be determined by the state.
In Weehawken, Roseland Properties, Inc. continued work on its proposed $500 million Port Imperial South waterfront development. It will take approximately 10 years to build, and will contain 1,643 residential units, a hotel, a shopping center, and an assisted living center.