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Thread: Hudson Lights - Fort Lee - New Jersey

  1. #1
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Default Hudson Lights - Fort Lee - New Jersey

    In the Region | New Jersey

    Glittering Potential, Shady Past


    A rendering of Hudson Lights, a mixed-use proposal for half of a 16-acre site in Fort Lee near the George Washington Bridge.

    WHAT sort of property would entice four big-foot developers to come up with substantial proposals, in the midst of a recession, to build on ground that has lain fallow for 35 years — half of it sold at a sheriff’s auction only last winter?

    No need to build up the suspense, particularly after three and a half decades. It is the 16 acres of rocky, weed-ridden land beside the entrance to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee.

    Previous plans for the site collapsed last year when Town and Country Developers of Westwood conceded that its mixed-use Centuria project was stalled. Half the property was then sold at auction to the Tucker Development Corporation of Chicago.

    Two weeks ago, the borough of Fort Lee called for new development proposals for either all or half the site — and received one from Tucker for its half; one from SJP Residential Properties and the Bergen County developer James Demetrakis for the other; and two proposals for the whole site.

    The first of the whole-site proposals was from the World Trade Center developer Silverstein Properties, in conjunction with the high-end fashion mall developer Taubman Centers (owner of the Mall at Short Hills). Their plan is for a regional retail center, with a couple of housing towers situated to take advantage of the up-close view of the bridge, the Hudson River and the Manhattan skyline.

    The second was from Amerea Development, a partnership of Panepinto Properties of Jersey City and Cheongwon America Inc. of South Korea. This proposal also envisions a retail center with housing. But it includes elements sought by the borough: a hotel and office space that the Silverstein-Taubman team described as not “viable.”

    No matter what happens now, though, the “big-time allure” of a site with a shady past has been proved forevermore, asserted Burt Ross, the onetime mayor of Fort Lee.

    In 1974, an initial group of developers wanted to build on the property so badly that they sent a Mafia representative to offer a bribe to Mr. Ross. (He wore a wire, and they went to prison, as detailed in a 1976 book about the case, called “The Bribe.”)

    A decade after that, the real estate mogul Harry Helmsley and his wife, Leona, reached out to grab the glittering potential of the site. Mr. Helmsley aggressively pursued a plan for mixed-use development, but momentum dissipated after Mrs. Helmsley was sent to jail in 1989 for tax evasion.
    The property languished in the Helmsley portfolio until 2005, when it was bought by Town and Country, an affiliate of a Manhattan investment company.

    “In some people’s minds, the question might be: What’s wrong with the borough?” said Allen F. Goldman, the president of SJP Residential, in an interview after his company submitted its proposal. “Over 30 years, it can’t take such an important parcel and make something happen?”

    “But right now, today, we believe this is an extremely valuable property,” Mr. Goldman added, “suitable to become a dynamic town center that offers every element the borough seeks, from retail, to housing, to hotel, and office.”

    Silverstein-Taubman, by contrast, envisions an upscale fashion retail center with a mix of restaurants, to attract “a large trade area of underserved New Jersey and New York shoppers.” There would be apartment units over the low-rise part of the retail center; two housing towers would be built in a latter phase.

    The Panepinto-Cheongwon plan would cluster housing development on the eastern side of the parcel and establish a “nontypical” shopping center with large gathering spaces and pedestrian access to the Fort Lee downtown on the western half of the site.

    One obvious hurdle for the two proposals that would extend over the full 16 acres is Tucker’s ownership of the eight acres on the west.
    Mr. Tucker made it clear in an interview that his company intended not to sell its property but to develop it — though perhaps in concert with partners.

    The Tucker proposal, called Hudson Lights (for the green “necklace” of lights sparkling on the bridge at night), calls for 940,000 square feet of construction: 185,000 square feet of retailing, restaurants and a health club as well as 357 rental apartments and 170 condominiums.

    In its plan for the eastern parcel, the SJP-Demetrakis team proposed 800 units of rental housing in two high-rise towers, and an 18,000-square-foot high-end food market and associated retail space. A later phase of development would include a 250-room hotel with a banquet facility, and 100 hotel-condominium units.

    A couple of the developers’ proposals provided rather detailed information about financing, but others were “sketchy,” according to Fort Lee’s current mayor, Mark Sokolich, who last week was still trying to digest the voluminous proposals.

    The Borough Council intends to select among the proposals by Sept. 10 and to complete an accord by Jan. 15.

    In the executive summary of Tucker’s proposal, available for perusal at Borough Hall, the company notes that “the current environment will undoubtedly increase the financing gap that typically exists in mixed-use development.”

    On the positive side, Tucker noted, the state Economic Recovery Act of 2009 sets up several possible financing sources for urban development projects. Assuming that this backing is available, along with long-term tax abatement, Tucker would still need to finance about $23 million, or 20 percent of the total cost of its project.

    In an interview, however, Mr. Tucker declined to discuss financial aspects, other than to note that the company is an equity fund that operates with capital investments from a number of partners.

    The Silverstein-Taubman team wrote in its summary that it would need “the parking, land and other costs subsidized in order for the project economics to work.”

    The SJP-Demetrakis team asserted that much of its financing would come through SJP’s relationship with Prudential Real Estate, a partner of SJP on numerous projects over the last 20 years.

    The Panepinto-Cheongwon summary was short on hard facts about finances, but it did definitively assert its determination to succeed in the face of hard economic times, not to mention a site with a difficult past.
    “These are the times that try men’s souls,” it quoted Tom Paine, who famously pamphleteered about the experiences of American Revolutionary soldiers serving at Fort Lee.

  2. #2

    Default Fort Lee Making a Comeback


    Two 47-Story Residential Towers Approved Near the GW Bridge

    By Antoinette Martin

    Name:  nej_the-modern-rendering.jpg
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    FORT LEE, NJ-After six sometimes contentious public hearings, final approval was granted for the first phase of a $1 billion downtown redevelopment project that will send two 47-story towers soaring upward to become the tallest structures in Bergen County.

    The vote to approve The Modern, as the project is now being called, was unanimous. It will be built by Fort Lee Redevelopment Associates, a partnership of SJP Residential Properties, Bergen County attorney James Demetrakis and real estate investment firm Palisades Financial.

    FRLA had originally proposed three towers, but negotiated with the Borough Council on design and mass of the first phase of the project, which will include: the two towers with 902 rental units, a restaurant, snack kiosk, three-screen movie theater, museum, and a public park.

    The western half of the community’s 16-acre redevelopment area south of the George Washington Bridge is owned by Illinois-based Tucker Development Corp., which plans to develop it later.
    Borough officials have been pushing for a major project to revitalize Fort Lee’s faded and cramped downtown area for several decades. They are anxious for work to get underway and to enhance the town’s tax base, planning officials said. The Planning Board must still follow legal steps to air the formal contract with FLRA and take additional comments, however.

    The Modern’s glass-walled towers will each contain 450 luxury rental apartments, with a mix of studios, one-, two-, and three-bedroom residences that offer views of the Hudson River, Manhattan skyline, George Washington Bridge and surrounding landscape. Construction is expected to begin this summer, says Allen Goldman, president of SJP Residential and the managing member of FLRA.

    “We are creating an icon that will forge a strong identity for Fort Lee as a destination for luxury living,” says Goldman. He also tells that the community will have energy-efficient systems throughout.

    FLRA will invest $500 million in the towers to be located at 100 and 800 Park Avenue (formerly known as Martha Washington Way), which will each have adjoining parking garages.

    The Modern will feature 70,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor resort-style amenities, including a spa, in each tower. An Internet lounge with WiFi and printers is planned for each tower.

    The Modern will have covered dog walking areas and pet spas, and indoor and outdoor children’s play areas, 24/7 concierge and doorman service as well as package and dry cleaning reception areas and refrigerated storage. The residences will be available for occupancy as of summer 2014.

    The two towers will rise between a 1.75-acre acre public park that with water features and walking paths. A 7,000-square-foot restaurant with indoor and open-air dining is to be situated within the park.

    At past hearings, some residents offered serious concerns about traffic snarls that could be generated with dense development so close to a bridge entrance.

    However, Planning Board chairman Herbert Greenberg said after the approval vote that while some may still object to the project, it will generate tax revenue the borough badly needs to move into the future.

    Last edited by West Hudson; March 28th, 2012 at 11:54 AM.

  3. #3

    Default Twenty50 Central

    Also from, from this past December. Note: BNE is also building the 139-unit Warren@York in Jersey City near the Grove Street corridor. SJP, mentioned above, is a partner in the development of the Panasonic office tower in Newark (and was involved in the development of 225 Grand in Jersey City).

    FORT LEE, NJ–The recent groundbreaking of Twenty50, the 194-unit luxury rental building at 2050 Central Road here, is the culmination of nine years of planning, says BNE Real Estate Group, the project’s developer.

    The recession and resulting renewed appeal of rentals led BNE to reduce the size of the residences and double the number of units at the $70 million, 12-story building, says Jonathan Schwartz, senior vice president of BNE Real Estate Group. “It becomes like starting from scratch,” Schwartz tells

    Schwartz, other BNE executives and officials from Fort Lee, NJ participated in the groundbreaking of the project, located near the George Washington Bridge. Twenty50 is directly across the street from Fort Lee Historic Park, the New Jersey section of the Palisades Interstate Park, and a short walk from Fort Lee’s town center.

    “We are very proud to be the host community for this type of development,” Mayor Mark Sokolich said at the groundbreaking. “Even in these tough economic times, we want to make Fort Lee a business-friendly environment. We want to make sure that our community is inviting to projects such as this.”
    Designed by The Lessard Design Group, the building will offer a mix of one- and two-bedroom residences. Amenities will include a concierge, lobby with water wall, resident lounges, a café, Wi-Fi library/den, game rooms, fitness center and an outdoor pool.

    First up in terms of construction is three months of blasting through bedrock to build the foundation. Thus far, all has gone according to schedule. “We did a lot of due diligence,” Schwartz notes.

    Construction is scheduled to be complete by September, 2013. There are no concerns that the market pendulum will have swung back toward for-sale residences by then, Schwartz adds.

    “Especially in Northern New Jersey, even in the worst of times, the apartment sector was very, very strong,” he says. “Even if things do turn to home buying again, there is still a strong demand for apartments.”

  4. #4
    Forum Veteran
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    On the Rails in North NJ


    To be honest , i'm abit wary on developing in Fort Lee since theres no Rail transit to adsorb the growing population....

  5. #5
    Build the Tower Verre antinimby's Avatar
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    I was in this area yesterday and noticed that this was under construction already!

    I saw concrete columns poking up at nearly ground level.

  6. #6


    The Modern or Twenty50 Central?

  7. #7


    These twin 498' foot, 47 story towers will be quite visible from the river - and maybe not in a good way. They're already perched 300' atop the Pallisades. These towers will rise on the left side of the photo and appear 800' above the river. For comparison, the height of the GWB's tower is 604 feet.

    N.J. developer breaks ground on $500 million residential development
    Glass towers will house 900 rentals

    October 17, 2012 03:00PM

    Fort Lee Redevelopment Associates broke ground this morning on a $500 million luxury rental project set to transform Bergen County’s Fort Lee.

    The Modern will include 900 luxury rental apartments in two 47-story glass towers on eight acres near the entrance to the George Washington Bridge. Fort Lee Redevelopment Associates is a partnership of real estate developer SJP Residential Properties, Bergen County attorney James Demetrakis and real estate investment firm Palisades Financial.

    The ground breaking marks the culmination of a long and storied history at the site, which has sat vacant since the late 1970s. It was the subject of a federal investigation 40 years ago when Fort Lee’s then mayor Burt Ross tipped off the Federal Bureau Investigation that he’d been offered a bribe by corrupt developers with links to the mob in return for approving plans for a controversial skyscraper at the site. Ross agreed to don a wire and later helped the authorities bust the developers.

    The new development, slated for completion in 2014, will feature studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. Rents are slated to range from $1,650 to $6,500 a month. A landscaped public park, public theater and a museum will also be built at the site. – Katherine Clarke

    The renderings of this are really misleading:

  8. #8


    I'll miss the illusion of the bridge piercing into a virgin land.


  9. #9


    Are they building this project all at once? Or one building, followed by another, etc...?

  10. #10
    Forum Veteran
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    On the Rails in North NJ


    I think this development will result in a Traffic Nightmare 24/7 , there is no rail planned or proposed for that area...and this kind of development will overburdened stressed bus routes and the network.

  11. #11


    Are there bus lanes for entering the GWB? I know a lot of people in Fort Lee and Bergen County who work in NY take the bus across the GW to the subway station right across the bridge, and commute to Manhattan. It actually seems pretty convenient.

  12. #12


    Hudson Lights at Fort Lee

    Northeast corner of Lemoine Avenue and Main Street
    Total Available 200,000 SF

    Proposed one-million-SF, mixed-use development with 200,000 SF of retail and restaurant space, 475 residential units, a hotel or office space
    Anticipated opening Fall 2013
    On-site parking in addition to abundant street and neighboring municipal lot parking
    Conveniently located at the crossroads of New Jersey and New York in an area with strong demographics and great accessibility
    Situated at the heavily traveled George Washington Bridge with 289,700 vehicles per day

  13. #13


    Anyone know how The Modern or Centuria are coming along?

  14. #14
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    On the Rails in North NJ


    Work almost done on 100 Central Ave...

    002 by Nexis4Jersey09, on Flickr

  15. #15


    Wow - thanks for posting this pic! I've been meaning to get up to Fort Lee for awhile myself. Did you happen to catch what's going on with The Modern towers?

    btw - what's with all the PA Police vehicles?

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