The homes we are highlighting in this issue are both owned by newcomers to Jersey City, young adventurers who are really enjoying their new digs and their new town. Join them in seeing our town with fresh eyes.
You don’t have to go too far back to recall when the Beacon was the Jersey City Medical Center. Though it had an art deco interior, it wasn’t the most pleasant place to visit, and the outside had a bit of a Creedmoor feel to it. But all that has changed. Back when the Beacon first opened as a residential complex, we highlighted a couple who had moved there from a loft near Journal Square.
But now more has been added to what is reportedly the largest historic residential restoration project in New Jersey.
Monica Desai is a satisfied new resident—both of the Paramount and of Jersey City. “I was maybe the ninth or 10th person to sign a lease there,” she relates. Desai is a Florida native, and like a lot of newbies, she landed a job in New York City but found that living outside the city was cheaper, and she also had friends living in the Newport area.
“I finished my Master’s Degree from the University of Florida while working in New York,” Monica says. “Jersey City seemed like the perfect place for me since I wanted to be slightly removed from New York City. My parents and my boyfriend’s parents love the area because it’s safe, clean, and has a sense of community.”
She and her dad “looked at a couple of different places in Newport and Hoboken. I googled the Beacon, and there were pretty good deals for luxury apartments in terms of price range. We entered, and it was absolutely luxurious,” she says. “The whole place had a classic feel, and the facilities are amazing with a gym inside the building. That was huge for me because I go to the gym four or five times a week. Now that it’s summer I’m looking to spend time outside running and doing outdoor workouts.”
She settled on a one bedroom on the ninth floor. “There were a few different ways to set up the apartment,” Monica says. “But I decided on a layout that would accommodate guests and also open up the space within the living room.”
The unit has new appliances and modern technology. “It includes an energy-efficient washer and dryer, which allows for less water usage and energy than regular machines; a walk-in closet; and enough space,” Monica says. “It has a perfect view of the city and the Freedom Tower directly across. It’s such a beautiful skyline. I can wake up to see the Freedom Tower and the Statue of Liberty.”
Monica says she’s a minimalist and bought a lot of her furniture at IKEA. “My dad and I are very design oriented. We’re creative people. The décor is contemporary, following a color palette of black, white, and red. I really wanted to make the place my own since I have a natural love of design. The artwork on my walls was hand painted by me.”
She describes the building as “Titanic-esque,” noting that the first “Titanic” movie was reportedly filmed in the entrance to the Beacon. “It looks like a cruise ship,” she says.
At first, Monica went to New York for dining and entertainment, but she’s gradually learning all that Jersey City has to offer. “Recently, we’ve tried out some of the different things around Jersey City,” she says. “We went to a chili cook-off near Grove Street station and ate at Taqueria, and we randomly walked into Downtown Yogurt and struck up a conversation with the owner. It was really nice that this small business owner created this new place in Jersey City. The fro-yo was great.”
Monica has no buyers’ remorse. “I love it,” she says. “I have no qualms. I plan to stay for a long time.”
WARREN AT YORK
When we caught up with Blair Kurtz and Brian Seeling, they had recently returned from London where they’d become engaged. Just a couple of weeks earlier they’d moved into their unit at the new Warren at York luxury rental building.
They’d been living on the Upper East Side in Manhattan. But Jersey City wasn’t entirely new to them.
“Brian went to Syracuse and had two very good friends who’d lived in Jersey City for years,” Blair related, so we became familiar with the area.” One friend pointed them to Warren at York, and the rest is history.
Well, not quite. Blair and Brian had slightly different notions of the kind of place they wanted to live in. Brian had his eye on some of JC’s legendary brownstones, but when he started looking at some of the new construction downtown, he started to change his tune. An available unit in the Madox was too pricey, and Warren at York emerged as the top choice.
They settled on a 735-square-foot one bedroom with a bathroom and kitchen/living room with no wall between them.
“It was brand new, which was a novel concept to me, living in the city,” Blair says. “What I love about it is it’s fresh and light and welcoming.” A couple of furniture pieces from Pottery Barn made the move from Manhattan, but they also bought a new coffee table, rugs, and bar stools.
Both Blair and Brian commute to the city to work. Brian flies a lot for his job, and the proximity to Newark airport is another thing that drew them to Jersey City. “It makes such a big difference,” Blair says. “It’s really easy.”
Warren at York is equidistant from the PATH stops at Grove Street and Exchange Place, which makes the commute into the city really easy, too.
“I’ll be totally honest,” Blair says, “I thought I’d miss the city. I love the city, but when I get above ground at Grove, I feel like I’m home. There’s much more of a neighborhood vibe. I couldn’t be happier.”
Blair says they moved in a nice month, meaning May. “There are so many things at Grove Street station,” she says, “the farmers’ market, the chili festival.”
They don’t have a dog yet, but another advantage of Warren at York is that it is dog friendly, with a dog run out back. “Our old apartment had an eight-pound weight limit for a dog, and that is not the kind of dog I wanted to have,” Blair says.
She’s visited Van Vorst Park and Hamilton Park, and looks forward to exploring all the other outdoor spaces Jersey City has to offer. “We’re both sports enthusiasts and like biking, but,” she jokes, “we like to eat and drink.” To that end, they’ve been to Surf City, Light Horse Tavern, Sátis Bistro, Sam’s AM, Paulus Hook Brick Oven Pizza, and, “because I love coffee—Legal Grounds,” Blair says.
Blair minored in art history and is looking forward to exploring Jersey City’s art scene. “This is energizing, a fun new thing,” she says. “I never had negative thoughts, but I’m pleasantly surprised that Jersey City has more to offer than I was anticipating.”—JCM