Everything old is new in Union City

With few spaces left to develop, property owners find ‘green’ ways to build

Where do you build when your city is dense and almost fully developed? The population of Union City, with just over 1.2 square miles of land, is 66,455, according to the 2010 Census. With few empty spaces to build from the ground up, some developers are tending toward repurposing properties and adding modern touches.
Hudson Place Realty, a Hoboken-based real estate agency, has expanded to Union City – and with its latest marketing project, it has perhaps even set a new standard for innovative “green” buildings.

‘Green’ way of life

Chartier Development Group, also based in Hoboken, recently completed a two-building “green” project, Union Hill at Sixth Street and Palisades Avenue, boasting seven eco-friendly units.
Rita Sisti, the design consultant for Hudson Place Realty, which is representing the new “green” complex, Union Hill, , says “green” is the way to go.
“Union Hill is a very contemporary green eco-forward thinking building. Everything, even the aesthetic of the furniture, reflects that,” she said.
The project was built on the vacant lot of what used to be a residential building that burned down around 2009 and a neighboring three-family residential building, according to company owner Tom Chartier.
Irene Parello, an agent who is representing Union Hill, said that there is still a mix of development going on in the city.

“If everyone was building this way or if we were rehabbing older buildings this way, most of our infrastructure problems would disappear.” – Tom Chartier
“People are starting to look at these areas as valuable places instead of moving to the suburbs,” she said. “They have ample space and you can still be 15 minutes from the city, at a reasonable purchase price.”
Chartier, who established the award-winning development company heading the project, added, “These types of developments are important because they are family-friendly. People want to stay here and love the communities here. As far as the nature of a ‘green’ building, it’s simply a better building.”
Union Hill, a project that cost upwards of $2 million, is described by Hudson Place Realty “environmentally sensitive and sustainable.” The two phases of the complex, which were approved by the zoning board in 2002 and 2003, are located on two adjacent properties. Phase 1 is made up of three townhomes and phase 2 consists of four three-bedroom apartments.

Green engineering

During construction of Union Hill the developer recycled 90 percent of the materials used. The final project is comprised of air tight spray foam insulation that wraps the building in a blanket, which reduces the need for using energy to keep warm. The development also includes an energy recovery ventilator, which is constantly exhausting stale air and odors from the house and replenishing fresh air filtered from outside. Both buildings have LED lighting (only emits light when activated), cutting-edge energy saving HVAC units (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning), and electric car charging stations to incentivize the use of a zero-emission vehicles.
Anywhere from 70-75 solar panels are mounted atop both buildings, which provide 50 percent of the total wattage for energy-use.
Flooding was also on the minds of Union Hill’s developers. The property has what Chartier believes is the first use of pervious concrete, which has a high porosity to absorb water like a sponge during heavy rainfall.
For more information on Hudson Place Realty call 201-420-7393 or visit www.hudsonplacerealty.com.

Other projects

Recent applications to the Union City Zoning Board of Adjustment show the mix of small development that is going on.
One applicant applied to convert a commercial space into a single-unit residential unit at 4310 Hudson Ave. That was approved in January.
The board also approved in January an application to convert an existing office space/warehouse into a child day care center – Tati’s Small World at 130-140 32nd St.
However, an application to add a poultry and fish market to an existing building on the 2400 block of Central Avenue was denied at a meeting in December.
Some proposals that were approved before year’s end also include legalizing two basement apartments and two existing two-floor apartments at Monastery Place and New York Avenues, and a mixed use six-unit building over a gift shop at the corner of 44th and Bergenline Avenue.


Stay tuned for 72-unit building with over 100 parking spaces

A 72-unit residential building and commercial space at 116-120 Peter St. and 121 34th St. was unanimously approved late last year by six Union City Planning Board members.
The project, which was given the ‘OK’ in November, will have 111 parking spaces and some commercial space.
Currently a one-story commercial warehouse takes up the bulk of the lot along 34th Street, with an adjoining parking area occupied by two lots across from Peter Street.
The new edifice would consist of a five-story structure with 18 units per four floors and a lobby (fourteen two-bedrooms and four one-bedrooms).
Carmine Alampi, who is the attorney for Ronmar Realty, represented the owners/developers in the hearing for the development. He did not respond to phone calls by press time.
Like any development in the North Hudson these days, the question of parking was at the forefront. A Union City ordinance requires 144 parking spaces to be developed in a project like the 72-unit residential development, which meant the developers had to seek a variance from the city to move along with the project’s 111-parking space layout.
At the November hearing to discuss the application, traffic expert Louis Luglio testified that a study was done to determine that 54 spots would accommodate residents of the property.
Luglio said at the meeting that based on census data “on the transit aspect; 35 percent of the population utilizes public transportation.”
“So, from a transportation standpoint, a large majority of these…72 units, the occupants would utilize public transportation,” he added.

Steven Rodas can be reached at srodas@hudsonreporter.com.

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