Onward & Upward!

NJ BIZ features projects by Ironstate Development Company and KRE Group, in new, special report on Jersey City development.


50-70 Columbus

When the first wave of developers broke ground in Jersey City in the ’90s, they relied heavily on its proximity to Manhattan and public transportation to fill modest rental units.

“Earlier on, the main selling point was just building an efficient product with views of Manhattan where you could get them.” said David Barry, president of Ironstate Development Company.

Fast -forward nearly two decades and Ironstate’s latest project touts luxury living accommodations typically found on the other side of the Hudson. Instead of reminding prospective renters about the benefits of living in the Big Apple’s shadow, Ironstate’s newest advertising campaign celebrates the city as a draw in and of itself, proclaiming “We Are Jersey City”.

“As the energy and success grew around the urban areas, it became more obvious that this is a great place to live and work. There is a demand for this city.” Barry said. “My projects have gotten bigger, more architecturally significant, and include more design and amenities. “

Illustrating his point is Ironstate and Panepinto Properties’ ongoing project on Christopher Columbus Drive. The development opened in 2007 with the 400-unit 50 Columbus tower set atop the then-recently remodeled Grove Street PATH Station.

‘”That building represents part of Jersey City’s evolution Us a more traditional brick building with efficiencies.” said Barry.

In comparison, developers dubbed the project’s next phase, 70 Columbus, a “residential jewel”.

A high- rise with 543 luxury units, the newly opened 70 Columbus was designed by prominent New York firm Gwathmey, Siegel, Kaufman and Associate Architects. The project’s final two phases will include additional luxury rental residences at 90 Columbus, a 150-room Marriott Residence Inn at 80 Columbus and mixed retail services.

In addition to unobstructed views of downtown Manhattan, 70 Columbus offers upscale amenities on par with high-end Manhattan living: an attended lobby, fireplace lounge, billiards room, multimedia theater, catering kitchen, landscaped roof deck including a pool, grilling/ BBO stations, sport court, dog run and an outdoor kids play area.

It’s those extras – which also includes parks with sweeping Manhattan vistas, organic garden plots, Citi Bike stations, cooking classes and doggie day care centers – that foster communal livinq and are the calling card of this new spate of development springing up in Jersey City, said Jeremy Kaplan, chief operating officer of KRE Group.

Today it’s not just come home, get your mail, go up to your apartment and don’t come back out.” said Kaplan of the modern urban dweller.  “People want to get to know who is living next to them. They are interested in community and our buildings are being designed to cater to that.”

In the case of 18 Park, one of many joint projects from KRE Group and Ironstate, the building was developed around that interest in community – literally. The architecturally distinct 11-story structure, which opened in 2014 and features 422 residences in the city’s Liberty Harbor North neighborhood, also is home to the new 18.000-square-foot Boys & Girls Club of Hudson County.


Rendering of 235 Grand

 What the two developers have planned at the site of the former Boys & Girts Club behind 235 Grand St promises to cultivate outdoor community gathering space and revitalize a sizable chunk of Jersey City’s waterfront. Plans for 235 Grand are not finalized, but include a 45-story rental lower with 549 units and an additional 10-story building with 131 units next door. A key piece of the plan would take Grove Street where it ends at Grand and extend it to a public park on the waterfront.

“Grove Street has become such a draw to walk and to shop. This would just continue the flow of the cityscape.” said Kaplan. “The city has been encouraging us to extend Grove to change the landscape of Jersey City and benefit its residents. It’s something we couldn’t do without their support.”

And just how many more residential properties can Jersey City support?

As the population has grown, so has the burden on the light rail, PATH and ferry connections that spurred redevelopment in the first place.

“We have a finite number of links to the city.” said Barry. “I think that’s an issue that has to be resolved sooner or later. We need more ferries, more efficient trains. The Port Authority needs to invest more money in that system.”

But in the immediate future, Kaplan and Barry still see room for growth here.

“Jersey City has become a desirable place to live in its own right. The draw before was the accessibility and affordability, but it’s also acquired enormous quality of life features.” Kaplan said. “We continue to believe that will grow and grow.”


Jersey City’s Housing Boom Expands

WSJ Logo
via Roland Li/ The Wall Street Journal

Jersey City’s residential construction boom is spreading beyond its waterfront area to neighborhoods farther inland where planners and developers have long dreamed about building with little to show for it until now.

2014-09-22_11-06-53In August, for example, Kushner Real Estate Group and National Realty Advisors broke ground on the first of three planned towers at a giant development in Journal Square, known as Journal Squared, which will have a total of 1,840 units and 36,000 square feet of retail. Builders are currently excavating and underpinning the project’s foundation.

“We really believe in the market,” said Jonathan Kushner, president of Kushner Real Estate Group, citing Jersey City’s transit options and growing night life.

Also in the Journal Square area, renters will soon start moving into Kennedy Lofts, a converted office building. There is already a waiting list forming for the units—which run from $1,500 a month for a studio to $2,100 for a two-bedroom, says Heriberto Camacho, with Keller Williams City Life Realty.

Other Journal Square projects are close to moving forward. A venture of developer Kenneth Pasternak and Kushner Cos.—a different branch of the Kushner family—are planning to convert the building that used to house the Jersey Journal, into a mixed-use project including rental apartments.

That same group also is purchasing a huge site across the street from the Journal building. It is approved for a tower that could soar 60 stories.


Amenities can be golden in Jersey City’s competitive luxury housing market

via Terrence T. McDonald/NJ.com

The rooftop terrace at Hamilton Square Condominiums in Jersey City is a popular amenity, according to the building's developers, Eric and Paul Silverman. The common area is accessible to all building residents and includes a small kitchen, a shaded seating area and several outdoor lounge chairs. (Molly J. Smith Journal Photo)

The rooftop terrace at Hamilton Square Condominiums in Jersey City is a popular amenity, according to the building’s developers, Eric and Paul Silverman. The common area is accessible to all building residents and includes a small kitchen, a shaded seating area and several outdoor lounge chairs. (Molly J. Smith Journal Photo)

How much extra would you pay per month if your apartment building had a rooftop fire pit? A community vegetable garden? A bowling alley?

You’d be surprised, real-estate experts tell The Jersey Journal. With residential towers going up at a fast clip in Jersey City, developers look to offer amenities, however unusual, to make their homes stand out. Everyone’s trying to one up everyone else, said Jonathan Kushner, of KRE Group.

“It’s getting a little crazy, but it’s fun and that’s what people want,” he said.

Kushner is behind the $666 million Journal Square development – three towers, 1,840 units – that will feature a community vegetable garden. His 18 Park project in Downtown Jersey City is a $160 million, 422-unit development that will have perks like a children’s playroom, a catering kitchen and a television screening room.

Kushner said the 18 Park units themselves aren’t that innovative, but the amenities are.

“It’s really cruise ship living,” he said. “When you don’t want to leave, you don’t have to leave.”

The aforementioned bowling alley isn’t just a joke – Kushner is considering one for a development in Fort Lee. He said he doesn’t have to leave his home to get ideas for some of the crazier amenities.

“My two boys, who are nearly 8 and nearly 6, give me a lot of advice about what they’d want to play with,” he said.

Henry Waller, vice president of Toll Brothers City Living, said amenities are where developers can get creative.

“It’s one of the more enjoyable aspects of the job,” Waller said, “trying to figure out, OK, we have the pool, we have the barbecue grills. What’s next?”

Toll Brothers has built 1450 Washington in Hoboken and Harborside Lofts in Jersey City, among other properties.

Kristen Marie Ehrgott, the broker of Hoboken-based Avenue Residential, said the young professionals buying condos and renting apartments in Jersey City are increasingly seeking better perks.

“The bowling alley is something new,” said Ehrgott, a broker associate at Prudential Castle Point Realty. “I definitely haven’t seen that yet.”

Ehrgott said Trump Plaza in Jersey City has “beautiful amenities” that include an outdoor pool with cabana chairs, a gaming room, virtual golf and an office space for residents who want to work remotely. They come at a cost though, as high as $800 in monthly maintenance fees for a two-bedroom unit, she said.

“Some people are deterred,” she said.

For Eric and Paul Silverman, the best amenities are the simple ones. The brothers transformed the former St. Francis Hospital into Hamilton Square, an 11-story building in Downtown Jersey with 125 loft-style condos and boutique retail stores on the ground floor.

The first building the brothers developed featured a rooftop terrace, and that’s “the most used” amenity in their buildings, according to Eric Silverman.

“We’re not super crazy about all the other” perks, he said. “Indoor parking, a roof terrace and a real good-quality building is the best amenity.”


Mapping Jersey City’s Tower-Tastic Residential Building Boom

via M. Lorenzo/Curbed.com

CurbedJ2In five years, the Jersey City skyline will look very different than it does today. More than 20 residential buildings are currently under construction in the 15-square mile city, and most of them are not on the waterfront like they have been in the past, thanks to new tax abatement rules to spur greater investment farther inland. Major real estate developers that traditionally focused on Manhattan and Brooklyn have set their sights on the other side of the Holland Tunnel; everyone from Toll Brothers to the Kushners (the architect and the developer) are eager to break ground in JC and take advantage of the strong rental market while stratospheric rates continue to push Manhattanites out of the city.

Following the leads of neighboring Hoboken and the old, artist-filled Brooklyn it calls its muse, still-rugged Jersey City is undergoing a swift transformation that is bothmarket-driven and politically motivated. Brownstones are being restored, new restaurants and cafés are popping up throughout town, and MANA Contemporary is actively luring priced-out painters, photographers and other “makers” to its massive and growing compound that offers the holy grail of cheap rents and huge space. To track the building boom, we mapped 19 new residential developments. Most are in the planning stages or under construction, but a few have recently opened. If you see one we missed, please let us know in the comments section or on the tipline.

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