Gold rush Newport demand has developers building ahead of schedule

Potential renters are gobbling up apartments in Newport at a rapid pace – and the demand is so high that they’re paying to apply for units that haven’t even been built yet.

Potential renters are gobbling up apartments in Newport at a rapid pace and the demand is so high that they’re paying to apply for units that haven’t even been built yet.

On Jan. 6, it was announced that the Lefrak Organization, one of the state’s leading residential developers, would begin accepting $300 applications from renters wishing to reserve an apartment in the Southampton residential tower, which is still being built.

"The rapid pace of construction and rental activity reflects the continued successful leasing of Newport’s residential buildings," said Richard LeFrak, president of the Lefrak Organization.

The fourth and final building in the Towers of America complex, the 409-unit Southampton tower is still under construction, making the reservations an uncommon practice. Generally, according to a Lefrak spokesman, "You don’t see people buy or put down money for something that’s not there yet."

The reason for this, developers say, is that Newport has become a very popular place for apartment-hunters to seek residence.

"Newport offers tremendous value with a wealth of amenities and resources," said Samuel LeFrak, chairman of the Lefrak Organization. "People who work in New York City are discovering that it is faster to get to downtown and midtown from Newport than from many neighborhoods within Manhattan. It is only seven minutes from the World Trade Center and 14 minutes from Penn Station via the PATH, for only a fare of one dollar. This, combined with Newport’s child care center, restaurants, recreational and entertainment facilities, are attractive options to young professionals who work in New York and in the region."

In November, Adam Chianio, a resident of the East Hampton building within the Towers of America complex, came to Jersey City with a bit of reluctance, he said.

"To be honest, my fiancé dragged me out here kicking and screaming," Chianio said. "When I saw the apartment, I was hooked. I fell in love with it."

Chianio is a Brooklyn native who lived in Manhattan for years before crossing the river to the Jersey side. Naturally, the New Yorker had some trepidation about Jersey City, but that all changed as soon as he visited.

"I was surprised how clean it was," Chianio said. "Before I came here, my opinion of Jersey City was pretty low. [But] you could never find something so large, for this price, in New York City. The cost of living in New York City has gotten out of hand, especially for apartments that are as big as closets."

The Southampton units rent from $1,400 to $2,525 per month.

The Newport community, Jersey City’s fastest growing section, currently has 4,000 rental and condominium units. The finished community will consist of 9,000 apartments for 30,000 residents.

Since the Newport Mall opened right across the street from the waterfront apartments, the area has experienced a surge in its economy. A 285-boat marina, childcare center and new restaurants have also helped to shape the one-time rail yard into the hot area that it has become.

"The East Hampton, the rental tower completed prior to the Southampton, was fully rented in less than four months," LeFrak said. "Within a similar time frame, I expect the Southampton to be leased completely, with occupancy scheduled for September 2000." q

POPOUTS:

"To be honest, my fiancé dragged me out here kicking and screaming. When I saw the apartment, I was hooked." – Adam Chianio

CAPTION:

MOJO RISING – Heavy construction machinery makes up the current Newport skyline, which, when finished, will cost more than $10 billion.

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