The resurrection of Journal Square, the possible rise of an 80-story office tower near the Hoboken train station, two new luxury hotels near the Hudson County waterfront, and the long-awaited opening of the retail and entertainment complex Xanadu in the Meadowlands will be the main topics of development discussion in 2009.
The Hudson County waterfront earned the moniker of “Gold Coast” years ago because of its proximity to and easy transportation to New York City. Even in an economic downturn, people like living here for its commute, views, and amenities.
Several major projects are scheduled to rise in formerly industrial areas of our towns this year.
In October, Mayor Jerramiah Healy released his “vision” for Journal Square. The Greater Journal Square Redevelopment Plan – which has been proposed by the administration but not yet approved by the city’s boards – calls for 10,000 to 15,000 new residential units, thousands of square feet of commercial and retail development, and 9 acres of parks.
The entire project encompasses 244 acres, from Vroom Street to the south, Tonnelle Avenue to the west, State Highway 139 to the north, and Baldwin Avenue to the east. Some officials think it could take between 20 to 50 years for completion of the entire project.
The centerpiece will be two $400 million towers, 50 and 68 stories high, built adjacent to the Journal Square Transportation Center by a private developer who already owns that land.
The Journal Square area is not the only one that the city intends to revitalize over a long period of time.
Designs are also in the works to redevelop a 111-acre stretch of industrial land east of Garfield Avenue, known as the Canal Crossing Redevelopment Area.
This area was formed from the southern portion of the Morris Canal Redevelopment Area and a portion of the Claremont Industrial Redevelopment Area.
Part of that area, an 18-acre factory site, is said to be contaminated by chromium, and the city hopes to wrap up negotiations with owner PPG Industries to clean it up. City lawyers have said that they may take legal action at the end of the year if no plan is in place.
The redevelopment plan will require buildings to abide by “Green Building” guidelines and is scheduled to be an example of a sustainable community that reduces reliance on automobiles and includes a diversity of building sizes, housing types, and affordability ranges.
In yet a third massive redevelopment area, a 100-acre site off of Route 440 will be developed once a different chromium contamination is addressed.
Honeywell International Inc., a Morristown-based multinational conglomerate, owns some of the land and settled a lawsuit in January filed by the city over cleanup of the land. The settlement leaves the city on the hook for cleanup of a portion of the site that was granted to them off Route 440.
Honeywell also paid the city $13 million for relocation of city-owned buildings near the site.
The area is part of a redevelopment plan the city has in place that calls for 8,000 housing units, 20 acres of open space, and more than 1 million square feet of commercial and retail space.
Meanwhile, tall condo buildings and a hotel are still on the rise in various parts of town.
On the waterfront, Crystal Point, a 42-story luxury condominium building, is expected to open for sales in March of 2009. The new structure is on Second Street about 25 feet from the Hudson River, on the final piece of developable waterfront land in Jersey City that directly faces Manhattan. The building features 269 premium residences and views of the skyline stretching from lower Manhattan to the George Washington Bridge.
Also in that area, Ironstate Development will officially break ground on 225 Grand in early 2009. The 15-story rental building will be adjacent to the Marin Boulevard Light Rail Station in the Liberty Harbor redevelopment zone. Designed by the architectural firm HLW, the new residential tower will feature 348 rental residences, an enclosed parking garage with up to 350 spaces, and 1,700 square feet of retail space. The building will offer views of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty.
The Westin Hotel in Jersey City, at Washington Boulevard and Sixth Street near the Newport Mall, will open its doors in February 2009. The hotel is currently accepting reservations. The joint venture of LeFrak Organization and Melvin Simon & Associates, in the heart of the waterfront financial district of Jersey City, is just minutes from New York City. It will provide 429 guest rooms, expansive meeting facilities, upscale dining, and all of the Westin’s signature amenities and services.
As far as smaller buildings go, Crescent Court, 54 new condominium homes being developed by The Matzel and Mumford Organization, is located at Second and Merseles Streets in the Village neighborhood west of Hamilton Park.
This new mid-rise building features one- and two-bedroom residences, with one enclosed parking space per unit.
The city has been working on an agreement with NJ Transit to develop 36 of the 54 acres owned by NJ Transit on the south end of town. The 54 acres are split between Hoboken and Jersey City, and each city is currently pursuing plans with the railroad to develop over and beside the train tracks. The Hoboken part is projected to cost over $500 million and take 20 years to complete.
The plan for Hoboken includes several condominium and office buildings that are over 50 stories high, including an 80-story mixed-use centerpiece tower. NJ Transit is offering givebacks, such as a park and city infrastructure improvements. The development would add an estimated 6,000 new residents to the mile-square city, which already has an estimated 38,000 people.
The city is facing considerable pushback from the local community. Residents are concerned that the height and density of the development will overload the southern half of town, which already has flooding and parking issues. NJ Transit has already committed to contributing funds for infrastructure improvements, but many residents contend that the improvements will only cover the influx of people that the development itself will bring.
Members of the City Council are meeting with officials from NJ Transit and their planning firm, FX FOWLE, before considering the plan as a whole.
Also on the southern end of town, the city has sold its Municipal Garage, on Observer Highway near Newark Street, after years of missteps. But they are still in the process of finding a suitable space to relocate their equipment and supplies. Once the city has a new garage, the developer in control of the old location, S. Hekemian Group, will construct a nine-story condominium building that includes 240 residential units, roughly 8,000 square feet of retail space, 180 parking spaces, and a public art studio.
Not far from that site is another potential project. A developer wants to convert the old Neumann Leathers buildings, a group of former tanneries on Observer Highway, Willow Avenue, and Newark streets, into residential units. The zoning board is hearing arguments for a series of variances that would allow them to demolish the site and rebuild. As a giveback, they will also include a building for artists.
However, the artists who already have their studios in the factories are fighting the conversion, as they think the building should be preserved.
The board has heard testimony from both sides and should decide the case early in 2009.
Meanwhile, not everything is going smoothly in all the old industrial areas. A bankruptcy filing by Hoboken real estate owner Dil Hoda could jeopardize the development of 800 Monroe St., a 5-acre site on the western edge of town near the Ninth Street Light Rail stop. The project has been bogged down by environmental issues over the past few years. Hoda is awaiting the outcome of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing on Nov. 15, but has said that the project will continue.
The project is scheduled to have 435 condominiums, 125,000 square feet of retail, and 1,120 parking spaces. It is located next to the existing 720 Monroe St. arts center that Hoda’s development group already owns and has preserved for use by artists.
In commercial news, W Hoboken Hotel & Residences, the city’s first luxury hotel, will open on the south waterfront in February of 2009. The property features 225 guest rooms, 40 condominium residences (which are already sold out), 5,750 square feet of meeting and event space, and a Bliss Spa. Owned and developed by Applied Development Company, W Hoboken will also features a chic lounge bar and signature services, such as inspiring wake-up calls and the pet-friendly P.A.W. (Pets Are Welcome) program.
Larry Price, a 68-year-old former Navy veteran, recently won a second lawsuit at the appellate level contesting building heights planned for Bergenline Avenue.
The lawsuit effectively blocked a developer from building a 90-unit luxury residential tower on the Palisades.
Price, who represented himself on this case, has won 10 out of 13 cases brought before the appellate court to limit the size of proposed developments in Union City. The other three cases are still pending.
Development guidelines in Union City may change in future years according to a master plan for the city that was approved last summer, but no hearings have been held since then.
Meanwhile, Altessa, Union City’s newest condominium building at Summit Avenue and 21st Street, will open for sales early next year with 100 upscale residences, New York City skyline views, and amenities including a landscaped rooftop deck with a swimming pool.
The 15-story building features a collection of one, two, and three-bedroom homes and on-site parking, according to developer Rocha Construction and Development, Inc.
Xchange at Secaucus Junction, a proposed 2,000-plus unit housing development in the south end of town at 100 New County Rd., is currently in the process of determining whether it must follow new state-mandated affordable housing quotas. If so, the quota will force them to increase the planned affordable housing units from 230 to 415.
Right now, Xchange is set to include 1,805 market-rate units and 230 affordable units.
In commercial news, the Wal-Mart in town won approval this past fall to transform into a “Super Wal-Mart” that will offer groceries in a town that lost its only supermarket last year. Town officials have been trying to lure another supermarket chain to town as well.
Xanadu is scheduled to open in August.
Further up Route 3, Xanadu, the $2 billion entertainment and retail attraction next to the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, is scheduled to open August 2009. Even though the project is not located in Secaucus, there will definitely be a local impact. The project is expected to create 20,000 permanent jobs with 2.3 million square feet available for lease.
The project is divided into five districts, including a “youth culture” district for kids.
Residents in about 87 permanent mobile homes at the Manhattan Trailer Park on Tonnelle Avenue may experience the downside of progress when they are forced to leave in January, 2010 to make way for a new development.
The mobile home owners have retained a lawyer and are fighting the eviction notices. According to the president of the homeowners’ association, 250 people may become homeless if they have to leave.
In commercial news, North Bergen residents will see a Wal-Mart Supercenter store opening at the former APA Transport site, 88th Street and Tonnelle Avenue, some time in the future.
Developers say the 195,000-square-foot Supercenter, complete with a supermarket, will provide 300 to 400 new jobs for residents.
West New York
A new “green” affordable housing project, Kennedy Tower II at 438 62nd St., will be ready for its senior residents in early 2009.
Construction is nearing completion, but officials said recently that they have yet to start collecting tenant applications.
The project has 71 units on 11 floors with community spaces and special units on the third and fourth floors designated for frail seniors who may need special amenities, such as a roll-in shower or lower kitchen cabinets.
The already-existing Kennedy Tower I, which was completed 40 years ago, is next door. Income guidelines for the new units will be determined soon, officials said.
A massive project on the Bayonne waterfront known as the Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor has moved one step closer to completion.
The 430 acres of land once hosted the Military Ocean Terminal until the Army deeded it to the city for redevelopment in the 1990s. The redevelopment is being handled by the Bayonne Local Redevelopment Authority (BLRA).
Right now, six developers are competing to develop three sections of the project, known as the Loft, Landing, and Point districts. The field of interested developers was narrowed down from 2,200 total firms.
Another district is already underway. Trammel Crow, the first developer to start building, is currently working on a 115-unit luxury rental building in the Bayonne Bay district.
They are also at the center of some controversy as it pertains to another developer, Fidelco, which is trying to amend their agreement with the BLRA to build other rentals in the district. Trammel Crow believes it has exclusive rights to build rentals, and the situation has yet to be resolved.