Lennar Urban and town officials broke ground Tuesday afternoon for the first of five buildings that will make up the new luxury residential “Avenue Collection” on the Weehawken waterfront. Four years in the making, the $50 million dollar, seven-story building will provide 74 one- to three-bedroom units with an average of 1,600 square feet per unit and will cost prospective buyers an average of $1.4 million each.
“We are in the middle of somewhat of a building boom,” Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner announced that day. “The future looks very bright for Weehawken.”
Once all five buildings are finished, the Avenue Collection will house 669 total condos just south of the Port Imperial Ferry Terminal at 1000 Avenue at Port Imperial. The entire complex will be built in glass, which is a departure from the wood and brick facades of surrounding residences, and will offer homeowners Manhattan skyline views, a parking garage, concierge, social room with a bar, and a fitness center with locker rooms replete with sauna and steam showers.
“It’s really the first building in our Port Imperial South community,” Lennar Urban’s Fred Rothman said that day. “We think when this is built, it will be the crown jewel of all the condominium buildings on the waterfront, and especially here in Weehawken.”
The building’s projected completion is in the summer of 2014.
Building up the waterfront
The Port Imperial neighborhood is a 200-acre, $2 billion residential area that offers shops, restaurants, and parks to locals and lies feet away from the Hudson River. The area is popular both for its views and its close proximity to the city and the public transportation that takes commuters there.
The area has a light rail stop, a Port Imperial Ferry dock, and NJ Transit busses. The Lincoln Tunnel is close at hand.
In November, Roseland Property broke ground on the $120 million luxury project “RiverTrace,” a 316-unit rental building in the Port Imperial neighborhood on the waterfront in West New York. The ground breaking for RiverTrace came less than two weeks after Roseland began work further south along the waterfront on a new part of the Henley on the Hudson project in Weehawken.
“Wherever I go in the state, people are talking about the Weehawken waterfront.” – Richard Turner
The Hudson River Walkway Pavilion, a project in the works since the 1980s, was completed in April, and new bike path was added to the newly-paved River Road.
And of course, an 800-space parking garage and headquarters for the 2013 Port Imperial Grand Prix Formula One race is heading toward completion as well.
An evolving market
At the time the Estuary broke ground, it was thought that the real estate market was becoming one for renters, not buyers. When the economy sank in 2007, a new demographic of “renters-by-choice” emerged. Monthly mortgages became much higher than rents, and property values had dropped significantly, which made renting more appealing.
This trend is now reversing, according to Lennar Urban’s Craig Klingensmith.
“The market is moving toward for-sale residences,” Klingensmith said. “Rentals are great but every year the price increases, and people are coming off the fence now and want to invest that money into a purchase.”
The new Henley building, which has 36 units, has already sold 25 to date, he added, which is an indicator of demand. He mentioned the draw for “empty nesters” who wish to downsize from a larger home in Bergen County, for instance, and purchase a condominium.
Klingensmith also believes the waterfront residences draw an international crowd interested in the area’s proximity to the city.
“There’s definitely a strong influence of international buyers, specifically Russia, China, and India,” he said. “We’re seeing an influx. There has been a trend of Russians buying in the city, and it’s spilled over into New Jersey as well.”
“It’s particularly special for me to be up here and to talk about this because I grew up in the Galaxy,” Rothman told the gathered crowd. The Galaxy is a luxury residence up the road in Guttenberg.
“Having spent many a day driving with my dad into Manhattan along River Road and seeing the old abandoned areas, and to come back and see what’s happened here is amazing.”
“Weehawken developed a master plan after four years of intense discussion in 2002,” Turner said, “And we’ve been developing in accordance with that master plan and we pride ourselves in having very sound, orderly development.”
He added, “Formula One wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for what they see on the waterfront and wherever I go in the state, people are talking about the Weehawken waterfront.”
Gennarose Pope may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org