Bullish on Big Cities

2015-07-07_10-57-54The July issue of New Jersey Business reports on the NJ people and business shift from the ‘burbs to the big city. Economic development is fast-growing in markets with mass transit and major transportation arteries, UEZ’s (Urban Enterprise Zones), state tax incentives, and colleges and universities.

Here’s what they had to say about Jersey City ….

With more than 257,000 residents as of mid-2013, Jersey City is creeping closer in size to the state’s most populous city. A booming part of New Jersey’s Gold Coast, Jersey City added about 10,000 residents, or nearly 4 percent, since 2010, according to data from the US Census Bureau.

Access is one of Jersey City’s attractions. Not only do major roads – the NJ Turnpike and Routes 1 and 9 – lead there, but so does the Holland Tunnel, New York Harbor ferries and PATH trains.

The city is also home to Hudson County Community College and two universities – St. Peter’s University and New Jersey City University – both of which have done their share to drive economic expansion in recent years.

In May, NJCU broke ground on a $400-million 425-bed Student Residence Hall. Scheduled to open in September 2016, the building will more than double the amount of housing available. It is being constructed as part of a public-private partnership with Ambling University Development Group and the university and the NJCU Foundation.

“This student residence hall is a core component of both the development of NJCU’s West Campus and the revitalization of Jersey City’s west side,” said Sue Henderson, president of the university, when announcing the project.

St. Peter’s University has been busy growing for the last four years. In 2013, it opened the 6-story, 90,000-square foot MacMahon Student Center, a $49-million project begun in 2011. Last year, it completed significant upgrades to its business and education school facilities.

The college also has plans for a $210-million 20-story residential tower in McGinley Square. A joint venture with Sora Development of Towson, Maryland, the tower is to be built on a university parking lot and include both student housing and apartments, a parking garage, bank, movie theater, restaurants and other retail space.

The development at St. Peter’s is meant to complement the city’s efforts to revitalize the McGinley Square area.

“This is a great day for Jersey City,” says Mayor Steven Fulop. “The McGinley Square-Montgomery Gardens neighborhood has many tremendous assets, including easy public transit, varied housing stock and community assets, as well as vibrant and diverse surroundings.”

In conjunction with The Michaels Organization of Marlton, the city’s housing authority has developed a $580-million revitalization plan that calls for 434 new affordable rental units, out of a total 887 units, as well as a preschool and Early Childhood Education Center, a new K-12 METS Charter School, a full-service supermarket, a health clinic and new retail and office space.

Nineteen city projects have been approved for $516 million in tax incentives since the end of 2013 under the Grow NJ program from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. These represent 2.6 million square feet of space, creating 3,974 new jobs and retaining 4,459 jobs at risk of being lost, according to EDA data.

The largest of these projects is a $225-million award to JP Morgan Chase to stay in the city, purchase the downtown building it had been leasing and complete $77 million in renovations. As part of that, the financial giant pledged to add 1,000 employees to its workforce of 2,612.

There’s a major project going up at Journal Square, as well. Construction has begun on Journal Squared, a 2.3-million-square-foot project near the PATH terminal in roughly the center of the city. It is to include retail, restaurants, parking and 1,840 residential units in towers, one of which is to be the highest residential building in New Jersey, at 70 stories tall. The first tower, 54 stories, broke ground in January 2014 and is expected to be completed by mid-2016. Kushner Real Estate Group and National Real Estate Advisors are building the project, designed by Hollwich Kushner and Handel Architects. The total cost is estimated at around $660 million.

Four new hotels are also in various stages of development. There is a 13-story Hyatt House being built at 1 Exchange Place. Also downtown, a 152-room Marriott is being built at the Grove Street PATH station. Construction is beginning on a third downtown hotel, a five-story inn near the Holland Tunnel. And a 75-room hotel is planned across town, at Tonnele Avenue and Secaucus Road.

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