When most people hear Trump Plaza, they think of New York City and the towering building constructed in several key locations.
But Trump not only has constructed one tower near the waterfront in Jersey City, but recently broke ground on a second twin tower near it on Bay Street.
“This is a big deal,” said Councilman Khemraj Ramchal, who was among the dignitaries to put on a hard hat and pick up a ceremonial shovel for the official ground breaking as guests gathered under a tent on what would be the ground floor of the 55 floor tower.
Set against the backdrop of the historic Power House, the second Trump tower is part of a new wave of redevelopment in the area, more evidence that the downturn in real estate that started around 2008 may be over.
“We broke ground today,” Ramchal said, brandishing the silver shovel later in his City Hall office a few blocks south of the construction site.
The 50-story tower of luxury rental apartment is the result of a joint effort by developer Jared Kushner and Donald Trump, part of an already existing complex directly south of the historic transit Power House, from which the arts district derives its name.
“This project speaks to the continued vibrancy of Jersey City and our strong residential market,” said Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop. “We are excited to break ground on what will be a great addition to our growing skyline and look forward to welcoming all of the new tenants to Jersey City once the project is completed.”
The exterior of the new building will mirror the existing West Tower which was constructed by developer Dean Geibel of Hoboken. Geibel had a licensing deal with Trump at the time. Completed in 2008, residential occupation stalled for a time because of the downturn in the economy.
A second tower was envisioned with the original development plan, but was delayed. The site was sold several times during the recession and eventually purchased by the Kushner and KABR partnership.
Trump Bay Street is a $193.5 million development, made possible by a partnership between Kushner and KABR Group, and is phase two of a project called Trump Plaza.
The project does not come without controversy, especially from some residents in the original tower who brought their concerns to the developer’s management. Area residents as far away as Grove Street and even Van Vorst Park questioned the impact of traffic in the area as a result of the additional residential units, noting that the 144 parking spaces will not accommodate the needs of residents living in the 447 units.
The City Council approved an unusually short five-year abatement for the project in April, keeping to Mayor Steve Fulop’s policy to award shorter term abatements to waterfront projects.
The five-year abatement phases in taxes so that the project will pay full taxes by the sixth year. The project is expected to take about 30 months to construct.
The new tower will have 447 luxury apartments, 144 parking spaces, and 11,000 square feet of retail, as well as a 3,000-square-foot rooftop deck, a spa, and a cyber cafe.
The building is also expected to have a gym and an outdoor courtyard on the Seventh floor, a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, barbecue facilities, and seating areas. About 148 storage spaces will also be provided, as well as about 230 street-level bicycle storage spaces.
City officials estimate the project will create about 400 to 500 union construction jobs.
“These are well-paid jobs and we need union jobs in this city,” said Ramchal, who has been instrumental in working out project labor agreements on development projects in Jersey City. These agreements guarantee jobs to local union workers, who have in some cases been excluded from large projects.
A family affair
Kushner Cos. was founded by Jared Kushner’s father, Charles Kushner, a well-known regional developer. Jared Kushner is also involved in publishing. He bought the New York Observer newspaper in 2005.
His family purchased 666 Fifth Avenue in New York City in 2007 for $1.8 billion, the highest price ever paid for a U.S. office building at the time. Jared has a number of New York City ventures that include the purchase of the Watchtower Bible building in Brooklyn.
In what was literally a marriage of real estate mogul empires, Jared Kushner married Ivanka Trump in 2009. His wife reportedly serves as a senior executive in the Trump Organization and is involved in fashion and apparel companies, and has appeared on her father’s reality television show, “The Apprentice.”
Along with the five-year abatement passed by the city, the Trump Bay Street is funded by $38.5 million from the Kushner-KABR partnership, with the rest funded through a $90 million construction loan additional financing through the federal government.
Al Sullivan may be reached at email@example.com.