Many large residential development projects were started and completed in Hudson County during the economic boom at the beginning of the last decade, and now, smaller projects are filling in the remaining gaps. Even in a slow economy, the county’s proximity to New York City means people will always want to live here, even if they’re avoiding risks by renting rather than buying.
To go with the new developments around the county, towns are seeing new parks and transportation options.
In Hudson County in January, 36 residential permits were issued, according to the State of New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development. But those numbers increased throughout the year, and an annual high of 146 total units were authorized for construction in October.
Nationwide, housing construction starts rose in November by 4 percent over October’s levels. However, building permits dropped 4 percent. It was the single family units that grew, while multi-family development, which makes up much of Hudson County, slipped toward the end of 2010.
The leading economic indicators index has risen every month since July. Some experts believe this will lead to a strengthening of the economic situation in early 2011, which could mean more investors in Hudson County, and thus, more development in the coming year.
Here are some of the major developments in Hudson County over the past year.
In July, Hoboken developers Danny Gans and George Vallone of Hoboken Brownstone Company introduced plans to expand development near the Holland Tunnel in Jersey City. When completed in early 2015, Van Leer Place will include more than 480 homes in two buildings, 8,700 square feet of retail space, and on-site parking. A walkway will be built by NJ Transit leading north to the Second Street Light Rail station in Hoboken. The Hoboken Brownstone Company was awarded a 2010 Governor’s New Jersey Environmental Excellence Award for its efforts to transform the 7-acre site into a sustainable urban mixed-use community utilizing energy-efficient building sciences.
Also in Jersey City, the Monaco, a $210 million development featuring two 50-story rental towers on Washington Boulevard, will be completed in the Spring of 2011. The Monaco includes 524 residences, a 558 parking space garage, and 11,900 square feet of retail. The project is being developed by the teams of Roseland Property, Garden State Development, and Hartz Mountain Industries.
Also downtown, 225 Grand, a 15-story, 348 unit luxury rental building, was unveiled to the public in the spring of 2010. The building is the joint effort by Ironstate Development Company, which is a subsidiary of Hoboken-based Applied Development Company, and Kushner Real Estate Group.
In 2011, Newport area residents can expect to see construction pick up, as the Planning Board recently approved a 40 story, 790-unit residential/retail space on 700 Washington St. Newport is the section of Jersey City on the waterfront near the Hoboken border, and the building will rise in the last undeveloped portion of Newport, known as the “northeast quadrant.” Newport Development Associates Company, a subsidiary of the Lefrak Organization (the developers of the Newport residential community), said the project will include 15,000 square feet of retail and 876 parking spaces – 794 garage spots and 82 on the street. The project is expected to be complete in 2012.
In Hoboken, the administration of Mayor Dawn Zimmer has been soliciting community input for several redevelopment zones near the city’s borders. Those areas include the Western Edge, an 11.4-acre area from Ninth Street to 14th Street; the Southwest Redevelopment Zone near the border with Jersey City; and the Northern End, near the Weehawken border. In the Northern End, the city has undertaken a redevelopment study in an area uptown where the Rockefeller Group has purchased three blocks of property. The area is currently zoned industrial. The Rockefeller Group has proposed office towers up to 40 stories tall, but the present industrial zoning limits buildings to two stories.
In addition, earlier this month, New Jersey Transit revealed a revised proposal for the land by the NJ Transit terminal at the city’s southern border. The revised plan calls for an 18-story office building, whereas a previous, more controversial proposal introduced in 2008 included an office tower of 75 to 80 stories.
A few major residential projects continued construction this past year. Toll Brothers, which developed the luxury residential Tea Building uptown, is adding two 13-story mixed-use, residential/retail buildings near the corner of Washington and 15th streets.
Hoboken’s activists are always concerned that the last open spaces in town will be gobbled by development. Thus, recently, the Zimmer administration announced several park initiatives.
In September, the city unveiled new plans for parks underneath the 14th Street Viaduct, which connects Hoboken with Jersey City Heights and Union City. All three levels of government will fund the $55 million viaduct and park upgrade. The plans include a children’s playground, a dog park, a basketball court/roller hockey rink, and additional multi-use community space.
In uptown Hoboken, a contract for design was awarded in December for new parks along the northern border at 1600 Park and Weehawken/Hoboken Cove.
Meanwhile, Pier C Park, an island park near Third and Fourth streets along the waterfront, was partially opened in November. The City Council still needs to approve the full opening of the park, as there were some concerns raised about the safety of some playground equipment.
This past year, some existing residential buildings underwent upgrades, including the Metrostop in Hoboken, an 11-story luxury condo development near the Ninth Street Light Rail station. Metrostop relaunched to the public following extensive upgrades to the building’s common areas and amenity spaces.
And the uptown Berkshire apartment building in the Shipyard development received LEED Gold Certification, a recognition given to projects with a commitment to environmentally friendly building. It was one of only four residential projects in the state to receive that honor.
In Secaucus, Phase II of the Xchange housing development, located near the Frank R. Lautenberg Rail Station beside the New Jersey Turnpike, was unveiled and leased out in July. The phase included a total of 140 market rate units and 38 affordable units. Phase III of the project, which is expected to be completed in 2011, will have 270 market rate units and 48 units designated as affordable housing.
Secaucus Commons, a new 10-unit condo development, was built on Paterson Plank Road. As with many development projects in Hudson County, some questioned whether it would include adequate parking space. However, those problems were resolved and the project is now complete.
Small projects made up most of the development in densely populated Weehawken in 2010.
In terms of luxury housing, Roseland Property and Lennar Urban teamed up to continue development of the Henley on Hudson project, opening a six-story building that features 27 residential units called “The Residences.” Henley on the Hudson features several hundred residential units on Cambridge Way.
In May, dozens of residents gathered to join Mayor Richard Turner and the Town Council as they cut the ribbon on the new Pershing Park at the end of Pershing Road in Weehawken, which was named after World War I hero Gen. John J. Pershing.
Not all the development news was for human accommodations. In October, Weehawken opened its first ever dog Park on the corner of Boulevard East and Pershing Road.
The proposed Appleview Condominiums, which would feature 59 residential units in North Bergen near the Guttenberg border, dominated development discussion in those towns in 2010. The developers originally intended to build on a lot that was less than half the size called for by zoning. Residents were also concerned that the construction might disrupt a nearby pipeline that brings natural gas from Texas to New York City, and that the hilly land was too steep to build such a massive project. Further hearings are on the way in 2011.
A 100-unit residential building, The Altessa, opened on 22nd Street in the spring. Prospective buyers attended an open house before 41 units were auctioned off, a new strategy gaining popularity in Hudson County among developers trying to move inventory.
In April, the city sought residents to join the Zoning Board now that the city’s master plan is in place. The plan encourages the creation of more public space, preservation of the views across the Hudson, and the maintenance of historical architecture. It also recommends improving the facades of the buildings in the commercial center of town.
West New York
Residents fought over the height of a proposed building slated for Park Avenue and 57th Street in August after developers Park Terrace LLC applied for approval for a 30-story building in a 12-story zone. Ultimately, the developer scaled down the request, and the Zoning Board adopted a resolution allowing for a 22-story development.
But the fight hasn’t stopped. Residents are still concerned about potential overcrowding that would increase traffic congestion, and filed a lawsuit in July in Hudson County Superior Court. The fight over the property will continue into 2011.
Planning continues for the 430-acre Peninsula, a set of six development zones on the former Military Ocean Terminal site in Bayonne. The project, originally slated for primarily residential units, has seen a large portion of the land sold to the Port Authority for commercial and container properties. The future of the Peninsula is unknown and the issue will continue to be a hot topic in 2011.
In another area of town, the City Council introduced an ordinance at its Dec. 15 meeting that approves a redevelopment plan allowing a developer to build low-intensity commercial construction instead of residential units near the border of Bayonne and Jersey City near Route 440. The approval is indicative of the theme of Bayonne development this year, as the focus switched from primarily residential to a more commercial approach.
In addition, the Maidenform Complex at 142-180 Avenue E received Planning Board approval in June to be turned into a 99-unit residential building. The developer, Silklofts LLC, envisions the site as a residential community with businesses and space for social activities. Early estimates predicted approximately 173 people will live in the building once all units are occupied.
Ray Smith can be reached at RSmith@hudsonreporter.com.
The year in transportation
From tunnel visions to Corner Cars
In 2010, the largest transportation project in America was cancelled for financial reasons. After a public announcement in June of 2009, Gov. Christopher Christie at first delayed, gave a reprieve, and then cancelled the Access to the Regions Core Tunnel project. The project would have sent a commuter train on a new line through Hudson County into Manhattan. NJ Transit first estimated the project would cost $8.7 billion, but a memorandum issued to Christie from the ARC Executive Steering Committee said the project could cost up to $14 billion, not including a necessary $775 million train portal bridge.
The Federal Transportation Administration had pledged $3 billion, its largest contribution in history, and $3 billion would have come from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. But Christie said he did not want New Jersey left with the rest of the bill. The project was intended to double the number of trains per hour from northern New Jersey to New York City from 23 to 48, and create 40,000 jobs. Now it may take years to settle with property owners who were in eminent domain proceedings, repay the federal government for what it had contributed to the project, and settle the $28 million in North Jersey property easements that NJ Transit now owns.
Soon after the ARC tunnel’s demise, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg began exploring plans to extend the No. 7 Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) subway line to the Frank R. Lautenberg Rail Station in Secaucus. The report, outlined in a four-page brief that was reportedly seen by few outside of Bloomberg’s office, claimed that the extended line could also include a stop in Hoboken.
In Bayonne, the Eight Street Light Rail Station, which has extended the Hudson Bergen Light Rail into southern Hudson County, is scheduled to open early 2011.
In other transportation news, last May, NJ Transit, facing a $300 million budget deficit for fiscal year 2011, eliminated 32 of their commuter trains and increased fares by 25 percent for trains, light rail, and busses. After the increase, NY Waterway tried to entice customers back onto his ferries by running a free bus through North Hudson to its Weehawken terminal.
In Hoboken, the Connect by Hertz Corner Cars program was introduced in June to encourage car owners to give up their vehicles in a city with scarce parking. The program now has more than 1,000 enrollees who can rent a car from $5 to $15 per hour. But some council members who are critics of the mayoral administration have raised concerns about the parking spaces taken up by the rental cars.
In Weehawken, ground was broken in September for the multi-million dollar federally funded public transit infrastructure project at Baldwin Avenue. The project will widen the tiny but crucial road for busses and trucks accessing the Lincoln Tunnel. The improvement has been 20 years in the making.
Helo Holdings, Inc., which has an office in Jersey City, is a full-service, helicopter-dedicated facility that plans to open a heliport in nearby Kearny. Jersey City residents are worried that helicopters that fly 300 feet or lower could pose a danger. – Tricia Tirella