Building up and moving on Many undertakings on the horizon for 2002

Despite a poor economy and an overall sense of trepidation since Sept. 11, local development in 2002 is expected to press on with many new projects. On the Jersey City and Weehawken waterfronts, new office buildings will continue to rise.

In Hoboken, the first building in the Waterfront Corporate center will open, new parking garages will go on-line, and the fate of the controversial Maxwell House property will be decided. Also, the Hudson-Bergen light rail will make its way into the mile-square city.

In Secaucus there is a renewed emphasis on residential development, and construction on area roads will break ground to prepare for the opening of the massive Allied Junction/Secaucus Transfer train station-office complex. In West New York and North Bergen, blighted areas are getting attention with elaborate redevelopment plans for previously underutilized areas.

Jersey City

New buildings are continuing to rise on Jersey City’s waterfront, supplying the market’s demand for office space in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. Along with these office buildings come a host of high-power companies. JP Morgan Chase and Co. will be moving into the newly constructed Newport Office Center V this month. The 21-story building houses 780,000 square feet of office space. By mid-year JP Morgan will move into the 10-story, 345,000 square foot Newport Office Center VI. The company intends to move 2,000 employees into the building by August, according to Ed Cortese, a spokesman for the Lefrak Organization.

Topping off this new commercial development will be Newport Office Center VII, scheduled for occupancy by the end of the year. This 32-story, 1.1 million square foot building has been entirely leased to UBS Paine Webber.

Joining the Newport towers on the waterfront will be Harborside Financial Center Plaza 5, a 34-story, 980,000 square-foot office building due for completion by late 2002. Mack-Cali Realty Corporation, the developers of this building, have announced that nearly 10 percent of the office space has been leased to Garban Intercapital North America, an inter-dealer broker that was a former tenant of the World Trade Center.

Mack-Cali also plans to complete another 19-story, 575,000 square-foot office building, and a nine-story, 350-room Hyatt Regency Hotel, by the end of the year.

All of these office buildings will eventually stand in the shadow of New Jersey’s upcoming skyscrapers. Construction continues on the Goldman Sachs building, a 41-story skyscraper that stretches 800 feet into the sky. The building is scheduled for completion in 2003. By then, construction will have begun on the 675-foot Merrill Lynch skyscraper that will provide 1.2 million square feet of office space when it opens its doors in 2005. The two buildings will be the tallest and second-tallest structures in New Jersey, respectively.

Aside from commercial space, the $2 billion mixed-use Liberty Harbor North project could begin break ground by the end of 2002, according to project manager Jeff Zak. The first phase of the 80-acre project will be presented to the Planning Board in April. With the board’s approval, construction would begin as soon as December on the 609 residential units designed on five new streets.

In Hoboken

Parking is a big problem in Hoboken. But the Hoboken Parking Authority (HPA) is prepared to bring two new municipal garages and more than 1,000 spaces on-line in 2002.

One is the much troubled and severely delayed 324-space automated garage at 916 Garden St. While it is over two years late and several million dollars over budget, the building could be finished by April. According to a takeover agreement with the bond-holding insurance company, the project must be completed by summer.

The second garage is a new 740-space facility that will be built adjacent to St. Mary Hospital between Third and Fourth streets on Clinton Street. Construction on the building is going according to schedule and could be finished by the beginning of summer. Some of the spaces will be reserved for hospital employees and some will be for residents.

Also in Hoboken, the fate of the Maxwell House property on Hudson Street between 10th and 12th streets will be decided. The developers have an application before the Planning Board for 982 residential units and a four-acre public park with some retail space. The project has drawn fire from local activists who believe it is too large and too dense. Mayor David Roberts and Stevens Institute of Technology President Hal Raveche have suggested that they might attempt to gain the property to build a technology magnet middle school, but developers Daniel Gans and George Vallone have said that they have no plans to sell or relinquish their property.

Also in Hoboken, the first phase of the Waterfront Corporate Office Center on the south waterfront will be completed in the spring of 2002. By June of next year, tenants should have moved into the first of the two 13-story 550,000 square-foot office buildings on River Street.

The second phase of the project, which is the second building, has begun with SJP paying for the construction costs with its own money. As of yet, that space has not been leased out.

A developer has not been chosen for the final portion of the south waterfront. Parcel B lies between the Waterfront Corporate Office Center and a newly-constructed residential building. The city is still in negotiations with the Port Authority to determine the height and density of the hotel that is to rise on that parcel. Then the two entities will choose a developer.

The original plans called for a 13-story structure, but community opposition and a new administration in City Hall have given them reason to rethink the size of the construction. Sources inside the administration say that the when negotiations are complete, that third building will be smaller than the others.

The south waterfront buildings will benefit from existing and new transportation options. The project is only blocks away from the Hudson-Bergen light rail line, which is scheduled to reach Hoboken from Jersey City by the summer of 2002. It is also expected that New York Waterways, the operator of ferries across the Hudson River, will add another ferry to go from Hoboken to Midtown Manhattan once the building is opened.

To the north of Hoboken, both Weehawken and West New York will see more work done on the state-mandated Waterfront Walkway, thanks to $3.5 million loan from the Hudson County Improvement Authority. The money will be used to complete the stretches of the walkway, which will ultimately extend from Bayonne to the George Washington Bridge, linking nine local municipalities. Construction is scheduled to be completed by spring.

In Weehawken and Secaucus

In Weehawken, Hartz Mountain plans to go forward with the final phase of Lincoln Harbor. Ten years ago, the initial phase included the retail/office complex that houses a food court, Paine Webber, and a hotel. After a drawn-out legal battle, the company got approval last year to build the remaining two office buildings. There will be two connected office buildings, totaling 855,000 square feet. These could be delivered by the end of the year.

Further up on the Weehawken waterfront, developer Carl Goldberg of Roseland Properties plans to go ahead with the first phase of a two-phase waterfront project called Port Imperial South. The first phase will include 42 townhouses. The entire development, when completed 10 years from now, will include approximately 1,600 residential units, retail and office space, and a full-service hotel. There will be more than a linear mile of public waterfront access, including an 11-acre park and a 30-foot wide riverfront walkway.

In Secaucus, housing developments should blossom in 2002. A massive residential development that one town official called “a second Harmon Cove” has been proposed for the long-unused Shiptank property in the north end of Secaucus.

The application, submitted to the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission (NJMC) early in November, seeks to construct 225 townhouses on a site of about 14 acres. This will join a smaller project that would build 12 new townhouses on a property along Flanagan Way.

Other development activities in the Secaucus area include Allied Junction – a 4.7 million square foot office complex supported by retail and hotel facilities – and a 637,000 square foot convention center adjacent to Allied Junction. The Secaucus Transfer train station, which is the rail portion of Allied Junction, has been under construction since 1997 and will connect various rail lines through North Jersey and allow passengers to transfer to Amtrak Trains headed into central Manhattan. The Secaucus Transfer could be finished by 2003, but expect major roadwork to support the project to begin in 2002.

In addition to these plans and developments, redevelopment efforts through the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission (NJMC) could create a major mixed-use development that would add another 400,000 square feet of office space and 465,000 square feet of retail/entertainment space, as well as warehouses, and even a TV studio.

Along with all this, major roadway improvements are planned for the area, including the construction of a new exit from the New Jersey Turnpike, the extension of Seaview Drive to the Croxton rail yard, and reconstruction of some sections of Tonnele Avenue.

Redevelopment matters

In Union City, Hoboken and North Bergen, redevelopment will play a key role in 2002. In Hoboken, the coming of the light rail along the city’s west side has given rise to an urgency to build in the formerly blighted area. The city has designated developer Frank Raia to build a residential project in the Northwest Redevelopment Zone. Construction has begun at the Shop-Rite Supermarket on the corner or 11th and Madison streets. Under Raia’s plan, the developer will build 432 housing units, approximately 100 of which will be affordable housing, new residential, parking facilities, and a charter school. Some members of the City Council and community activists have questioned Raia’s due diligence and stated that the city may want to rethink the project. But Raia is confident that he is the developer and will see construction to fruition.

In Union City, the Planning Board has added to its short but growing list of redevelopment areas. A parking lot on the corner of Palisade Avenue and Ninth Street was designated a redevelopment area after officials reviewed a study done by the Community Housing and Planning Associates. Union City Mayor Brian Stack, who also sits on the Planning Board, is favoring the idea of a senior citizen building on that site. Currently the city’s Housing Authority only owns one senior citizen building with 104 units.

The parking lot is the third redevelopment area named since a Redevelopment Agency was formed in Union City two years ago. It joins the Yardley Property, which covers Palisade Avenue from Fourth to Sixth streets, and the Swiss Townhouse Property, which is a squared-off region on 33rd Street and Hudson Avenue. No plans have been approved yet for those properties, but should be sometime in 2002, according to officials.

In West New York, the first of the three sites that are part of a planned multi-site, 143-unit affordable housing project in the city is scheduled to have its initial occupants move in by the middle of January. The remaining sites, Dewey Manor and Filmore Place, will be completed by the summer of 2002.

In North Bergen, the Board of Commissioners adopted an ordinance in December that created a new redevelopment zone between 56th and 58th streets and Kennedy Boulevard, paving the way for Alfran Realty to seek site plan approvals for a 250-unit apartment complex to be called Meadowview Square, at the site of a current near-vacant warehouse.

The development project will also call for 23,000 square feet of retail space and 16,500 square feet of office space, as well as parking for 300 cars.

Also in North Bergen, a proposed $50 million shopping center tentatively known as the Commons of North Bergen – slated to be built along Tonnelle Avenue at the site of the vacant Crown Cork and Seal factory and a current shopping area – is on hold until the developer and the current landowner agree on a sale price for the property.


© 2000, Newspaper Media Group