In Hoboken, building along the waterfront is expected to continue at a breakneck pace. Construction on a high-rise residential apartment building and an office building that will grace the southern waterfront ought to be nearly completed by year's end. In the land that lies between these two properties, construction on a hotel and an office building is expected to begin.
But development on the waterfront is just the tip of the iceberg in the mile-square city, where the beepers of the city's real estate agents seem to constantly be ringing. From Observer Highway, where two new high rises are planned, to the less-posh northwest redevelopment area, new residential developments are expected to go up with lightning speed.
In the crowded mile-square city, critics of Mayor Anthony Russo can frequently be seen bashing the administration at public meetings for not doing a better job of keeping developer's interests in check. The administration has responded by preserving some of what's left of the city's open space.
New city parks are planned for Pier C and Castle Point Park along the water. An outdoor roller skating rink park is expected to open this spring next to the multi-service center in the western part of town. A floating municipal swimming pool is planned for 2002.
The northwest redevelopment plan will include some affordable housing.
"As with anything, there exist many positive benefits and some negative effects from development," said Russo last week. "The inconvenience from infrastructure rebuilding, the revitalization of some of our older structures, and the conversion and new development of both commercial and residential buildings all add to some short term annoyances for our residents. However the financial impact is an enormous positive benefit for our city, as increased ratables help to stabilize and further reduce taxes. The outward attractive appearance as new developments go up and structures are rehabilitated is another very positive effect."
Similar debates may spring up around large-scale commercial and residential projects planned for Jersey City. In the coming year the city's Planning Board is expected to consider a 3,900-unit project forwarded by the Newport Associates Development Corporation. The plan calls for a development called the Newport Northeast Quadrant to be erected just north of the Newport Mall along the water.
Also up for approval could be pieces of former North Bergen Mayor Peter Mocco's dream development of Liberty Harbor, which sits just south of Newport on 75 acres of undeveloped waterfront property. Mocco hopes to bring together a group of developers to build a $1.5 billion mixed-use development.
Meanwhile, developers are hard at work filling in the holes in Newport itself. The Lefrak Organization recently announced that it will begin construction in January on a new "spec" office tower there that looks like a sailboat. The 32-story, 1.1 million square foot Newport Office Center VII, located at 480 Washington Blvd., is slated for a June 2002 completion.
"The building's glass curtain wall will reflect the sky and the Hudson River," reads a statement from the company, "with the southeast corner projecting like a spinnaker from a sailboat to help establish the nautical theme of the building. The 'sail' will be bathed in a soft glowing light while the corner will be sharply delineated by a bar of light, extending upwards like a 32-story halyard."
The city has also seen new hotels. One opened this past fall, and two more are presently under construction. In Weehawken, the Roseland development company will break ground on its massive Port Imperial South mixed-use waterfront development just as soon as it receives DEP approval. The entire $500 million project could ultimately include as many as 1,643 residential housing units, a hotel, a shopping center, and an assisted living center. It may take more than 10 years to complete. So far, the first two phases have been approved by the city's Planning Board.
In Secaucus, too, the dust will fly. Plans to build a new seven-story hotel on the Aratusa Property, where a floating restaurant once was moored, are expected to go to the Hackensack-Meadowlands Development Commission for approval. Yet another hotel may be erected on the Hess property along Meadowlands Parkway. There are also plans for a Meadowlands Mall project and the $100 million Gateway Expo and Convention Center at the Meadowlands, proposed for a 2002 opening.
In North Bergen, construction will continue on the mixed-use Full Moon Harbour waterfront development, which contains luxury housing, as well as on new business properties.
In West New York, more small-scale town house development is expected to pop up along the waterfront as developers try and entice buyers who want a Manhattan view further up the river.
In landlocked Union City, plans for conversion of the Yardley Soap Factory, a building with one of the most striking views of Manhattan in the county, have not yet been finalized. Elsewhere in town, contaminated soil has slowed the conversion of a former bus station into a mixed-use development. The bus station, on Bergenline Avenue between 27th and 29th streets, has to be cleaned up before the city can consider plans to re-develop it.
Meanwhile, construction on Secaucus's $450 million Allied Junction/Secaucus Transfer station development is two-thirds complete. The development will boast office buildings and be a hub for the Main, Bergen County, Port Jervis and Pascack Valley transit lines, making it quicker for commuters to get to the Northeast Corridor, North Jersey Coast Line, and Midtown Direct service. The station may even be operable by the end of the coming year.
In 2000, the first legs of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail opened. As of now, the line runs from Bayonne to the Newport Mall in Jersey City. Construction will continue so that it ultimately runs through the west side of Hoboken, into Weehawken and North Bergen, and west to Ridgefield in Bergen County. NJ Transit officials say they expect a connection to the Hoboken terminal to be completed in the early part of 2002.