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Thread: Allied Junction in Secaucus

  1. #31

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    September 5, 2003

    All Aboard: Secaucus Rail Depot Is Ready

    By ROBERT HANLEY

    SECAUCUS, N.J., Sept. 4 — About 40 years after transportation officials first toyed with the notion of a new rail depot here, New Jersey Transit plans to open a handsome $600 million station on Saturday, built to allow thousands of passengers quicker and simpler train trips to and from Midtown Manhattan.

    For the next few weeks, the three-level station, known as the Secaucus Transfer, will operate only on weekends.

    Officials plan to begin weekday operations for rail commuters by the end of the year, once the PATH station destroyed in the attack on the World Trade Center reopens.

    Long the dream of New Jersey rail officials and commuters, the new station will trim 15 to 20 minutes from the daily train trip for thousands of commuters from Bergen and Passaic Counties in New Jersey and Rockland and Orange Counties in southern New York, said Rob Edwards, senior program manager for New Jersey Transit.

    Passengers who use the Bergen, Main and Port Jervis lines will be able to transfer at Secaucus to other New Jersey Transit trains — principally the Northeast Corridor line and the North Jersey Coast Line — that travel directly to Pennsylvania Station.

    Currently, those three lines go to Hoboken, where passengers transfer to PATH trains that travel along the West Side of Manhattan between Christopher and West 33rd Streets. The Pascack Valley line, which also ends at Hoboken, has no weekend service, and its passengers will have to wait to use the new station until weekday service begins.

    The loss of the PATH line in Lower Manhattan on 9/11 forced many passengers to switch to Northeast Corridor and North Jersey Coast Line trains to reach Penn Station, leaving them overcrowded on weekdays. Until the damaged PATH line reopens, there is not enough room on those trains to accommodate additional weekday commuters, Mr. Edwards said.

    For now, New Jersey Transit officials said, weekend tickets for riders who use the new station to get to and from Penn Station will cost the same as a ticket to Hoboken.

    On a broader scale, Mr. Edwards said, the Secaucus Transfer will bring the greatest measure of unity yet to a once-fragmented system of 11 lines that New Jersey Transit took over some 20 years ago from bankrupt, privately owned commuter rail companies.

    Once full weekday service starts, the station will allow rail passengers to make direct connections to 10 of New Jersey Transit's lines, or all except the line that runs between Philadelphia and Atlantic City, Mr. Edwards said. The weekend scheduling provides links to many of the 10 lines.

    Although some state officials talked about building a station here in the early 1960's, the existence of competitive, privately owned rail lines blocked any serious work on the idea, Mr. Edwards said.

    Engineering work started in 1989 and actual construction started in 1995. Loss of the PATH line two years ago delayed the opening by a year, he said. Of the project's $600 million cost, the largest expenses were $300 million for four new sets of tracks near the station and $160 million for the station itself, Mr. Edwards said. The federal government provided about $450 million for the project, he said.

    Mr. Edwards said New Jersey Transit considers the 312,000-square-foot building a state-of-the-art rail terminal. The station has 31 escalators, 11 elevators and 36 stairways connecting its three levels. Announcements will be carried over 2,000 speakers. Information on each train line that uses the station will be color-coded and posted on overhead boards every 100 feet on platforms.

    Brown and beige tones dominate the interior and exterior color schemes, in keeping with the station's location — south of Route 3 off New County Road — at the edge of a marsh. The centerpiece is an eight-sided rotunda of polished granite on the third level. It is open and airy with windows on all eight sides and a skylight about 70 feet above the floor. A 30-foot silvery sculpture of a cattail sits in the middle of the rotunda.


    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

  2. #32

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    September 7, 2003

    Rail Transfer Station Opens to High Hopes

    By JONATHAN MILLER

    SECAUCUS, N.J., Sept. 6 — After decades of planning, eight years of construction and delays from the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, a $600 million train station connecting nearly all of New Jersey's passenger rail lines finally officially opened here today to fanfare, red carpets and more than a few questions.

    Starting today, the new station will be open only on weekends, for the vast majority of passengers, until the PATH station in Lower Manhattan, which was destroyed in the terrorist attack, reopens later in the year.

    While the station officially opened today, a very few passengers from the now-defunct Harmon Cove stop have been using the transfer station for the past month, and will continue to do so even during weekdays.

    Officials predict that the station here will get passengers into and out of Pennsylvania Station in Midtown Manhattan faster and more easily — shaving up to 20 minutes off one-way trips for some passengers — and will spur more train travel and development within the state.

    For now, about 2,700 people are expected to pass through the station on each weekend day, and 7,500 each weekday when that service starts.

    The station, said the executive director of New Jersey Transit, George D. Warrington, "will literally revolutionize New Jersey's passenger rail system."

    At the very least it will change the system in this way: passengers on the Bergen, Main, Pascack Valley, and Port Jervis lines who once had to ride to Hoboken and either take PATH trains or a ferry into New York will now be able to get off at Secaucus and board any number of trains bound for Penn Station or for other parts of New Jersey. Ten of New Jersey Transit's 11 rail lines will connect in Secaucus.

    About 212,600 people ride New Jersey Transit trains on an average weekday, according to system officials, and many of them were here today at this kind of Grand Central Terminal in the swamp — poking around the cream-and-brown colored interior, admiring the murals of marshes and the Pulaski Skyway, and gazing up at the soaring eight-sided rotunda.

    "Oh my God!" said Eric Andersen, 22, a student at the City College of New York in Harlem. "No wonder it took them 10 years!" Mr. Andersen, who lives in Suffern, N.Y., and often takes the train to Manhattan to get to school, said he was so excited to see the station that he awoke at 5:30 a.m. and took the 6:16 Main Line train to the station, where he tittered like a child on Christmas Day. "I actually rode on the train with Warrington!" he said.

    A group of officials arrived by train from Rutherford at 10:45 a.m., including Gov. James E. McGreevey and New Jersey's junior senator, for whom the 312,000-square-foot station has been named — the Frank R. Lautenberg Secaucus Rail Station at Allied Junction.

    As a senator in the 1990's, Mr. Lautenberg was instrumental in securing federal money for the project. About 75 percent of the money came from federal sources.

    In a speech today, Mr. Lautenberg spoke of his pride in having his name attached to the station, but also urged the crowd to be vigilant in pressing for federal money for public transit systems. "We neglect them at our peril," he said.

    Originally envisioned as part of a massive public-private partnership, the project was to include 3.5 million square feet of office space above the station, as well as retail space and a hotel. But development efforts have stalled and it is unclear when anything else will be built at the site.

    "It could have been more than it is right now, yeah," said Martin E. Robins, director of the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Policy Institute at Rutgers University and one of the founders of New Jersey Transit.

    He said that he was disappointed with the development efforts, the delay in building an interchange off the New Jersey Turnpike near the station, and the lack of support and enthusiasm from Bergen County, which, along with Passaic County in New Jersey and Rockland and Orange Counties in New York, stands to benefit most from the new station.

    "Bergen County has not been a cheerleader for the project until recently," Mr. Robins said.

    Meanwhile, New Jersey Transit has suffered from budget problems for the past three years, which has led many people like Mr. Robins to question the system's long-term health.

    The next big step for passenger rail service in New Jersey is the creation of a second tube under the Hudson River into Manhattan, a long-hoped-for cure for train congestion, but officials estimate that it will cost from $4 to $5 billion, and it will need federal approval.


    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

  3. #33
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    I "transfered" through the "transfer" station today on the way to Hoboken, the main atrium lobby is beautiful. The architecture and quality of the the materials through out the building is excellent, from light posts to the old style wood benches.

    The stores were not open , and there were very few people on the Sunday but it was a nice experience.

    Nice place, check it out. Opened on weekends only until the PATH reopens in Lower Manhattan, then the place will be swamped with commuters during the week.

  4. #34

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    I think it looks kinda cool
    . . .
    :shock:
    Why's everyone staring at me like that?

    And I like the point made that the photographed landscape was real as opposed to some penciled in grass feilds. Maybe this'll be a catalyst for new development in the area (if they can just build roads around it that go somewhere).

    BTW ugliest construction in TriState area, probably the row of identical "+" shaped apartment highrises located along the lower east side of Manhattan, or so it seemed from the boat I was on. I wish it didn't always turn out that affordable housing complexes often turn out bleak like that, but I guess if an architect is getting payed by comparison very little for a design, it turns out like that.

  5. #35

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    December 16, 2003

    In Secaucus, a Rail Station Brings Relief to a Workday

    By RONALD SMOTHERS

    SECAUCUS, N.J., Dec. 15 — After two months of use on the weekends, the $450 million Secaucus Transfer station had its premiere for the crush of weekday commuters on Monday and drew raves from riders.

    The station, a four-tiered terminal astride a tangle of train tracks, allows riders from northern New Jersey on the Bergen, Main and Pascack Valley Lines, as well as those from southern New York State, to transfer to trains that run to Pennsylvania Station in Midtown Manhattan. Until now, riders heading for Midtown had to travel into Hoboken, then take PATH trains to 33rd Street.

    Bringing together 11 of New Jersey Transit's 12 lines, the station will also allow riders to transfer to southbound trains to the Jersey Shore and Trenton.

    "It looks great and it's easy," Shantanu Singh said as he walked up one of the station's 31 escalators past polished tan marble walls and warm, earth-toned décor of the 312,000-square-foot junction. He works in Hoboken and lives near the Metropark station, and he said the Secaucus station reduced his commute by almost 10 minutes.

    For Debbie Hayden of Deerpark, N.Y., in Orange County, it was a savings of 20 minutes on what used to be a long drive to her job in Newark.

    "I didn't like going into Hoboken on the N.J. Transit train and then taking the PATH over to Newark, so I drove," said Ms. Hayden. "It's cheaper now, plus I can sleep."

    The two were among 1,600 commuters who passed through the vaulted rotunda of what is officially the Frank R. Lautenberg Rail Station in its first weekday morning rush. Senator Lautenberg, of New Jersey, was on hand to greet commuters.

    James J. Price, general superintendent of rail resources for New Jersey Transit, said agency projections suggested that within six months, 7,500 commuters a day would change trains at the terminal.

    "We've allotted seven to 10 minutes for people to make the walk through the station to change trains," Mr. Price said of the scheduling of the crisscrossing lines.

    The terminal opened in September but was used only on weekends. Transit officials said that there had been an increase in riders on the trains heading into Penn Station since the Sept. 11, 2001, attack, which destroyed the Lower Manhattan PATH station. Transit officials put off the full weekday operation of the Secaucus Transfer station until the Lower Manhattan PATH station reopened this month, easing crowding on Penn Station-bound trains.

    If there was any problem Monday for commuters, it was in finding their way through the vastness of the terminal. But several dozen New Jersey Transit personnel were on hand with directions.

    "We have so many people here that we could almost move everybody with a guide on an individual basis," said Lynn Bowersox, a spokeswoman for the transit agency. "We will be helping customers like this until they are comfortable with the station."

    Julie McDermott, a commuter from Rockland County, N.Y., who used to have to go into Hoboken and then take a PATH train to her job in Manhattan, said she would need about two weeks to get comfortable.

    "I'm an idiot about directions," she said. "But that's O.K. This is going to take a good 20 minutes off of my commute. And today the service is great."

    During the evening rush, as the voices of the chorus of the Newark Boys Choir rose in the rotunda, there was one discordant note on the opening day. Scott Fitzgerald, delighted at the thought of the 40 minutes he was saving on his commute between Clifton, N.J., and his job in a building atop Penn Station, nevertheless had only complaints for the signs that didn't tell him what track his train was coming on. But even his discontent evaporated as a voice on the 2,000-speaker announcement system called out Mr. Fitzgerald's track in plenty of time for him to descend the stairs to the tracks below.


    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

  6. #36

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    The terminal opened in September but was used only on weekends.
    tsk. tsk. It's a station, not a terminal.

  7. #37

  8. #38

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    July 11, 2004

    A Monument to Arriving in the Middle of Nowhere

    By FRED A. BERNSTEIN

    WHEN the old Pennsylvania Station in New York was demolished 40 years ago, its remains - including hundreds of chunks of pinkish granite - were dumped in the Meadowlands. So it's tempting to think of the new Frank R. Lautenberg Rail Station, built on the same swamp that shelters those remains, as part of a rebirth of great train station architecture.

    The building - known as the Secaucus Transfer - links 10 of New Jersey Transit's 11 train lines. The station, which became fully operational last December, permits a quick switch to a Penn Station-bound train. Conceived in the late 1980's, it is the kind of investment in public transportation rarely seen in the S.U.V. era.

    But for all its ambitions, it is not a destination, not in the way that New York's big stations, or even small suburban stations, are. Users of this station arrive on one platform and depart on another, without seeing the outside of the building (any more than one expects to see the outside of a subway station). Indeed, the building's exterior would be almost irrelevant if it weren't some 50 yards from the New Jersey Turnpike, where thousands of motorists drive past it every day. Many must wonder what it is. In this era of big-box stores, a giant new building without a billboard is as mysterious as a pink granite column rising from a swamp.

    What drivers see is a 900-foot-long building made of beige concrete panels textured to look like stone. The wall is interrupted by windows that are vaguely traditional (they have crisscrossing mullions more common in Colonial-style houses than in buildings one-sixth of a mile long), with sills that project out as much a foot. The goal, said Mark Sheeleigh, of Brennan Beer Gorman of Manhattan, the building's architects, was "to create a grand station but at the same time make clear that it wasn't built 100 years ago."

    But raised above a swamp, with trains entering and departing through openings at its base, the building seems insubstantial. (This isn't the architects' fault. What station wouldn't look flimsy on stilts, with tracks in place of a foundation?) Then, too, the concrete panels may have the texture of stone, but they are clearly just hung on the surface. Even from the turnpike, at 70 miles an hour, there's no confusing them for the real thing.

    No one expects stone to hold up the roof - even at the late, great Penn Station, "stone" columns were really steel columns hidden in granite. But here, details like windowsills were precast into larger panels, eliminating the seams needed to fool the eye into believing that the wall was built from heavy blocks.

    Of course, it is the building's interiors that matter most. Train platforms are themselves nicely designed (with surfaces dark enough to avoid looking old the first time someone spills a Coke). Escalators (31 altogether) lead up to long hallways, which intersect in a 75-foot-high rotunda capped by a 50-foot-wide skylight. In the rotunda's center, a giant aluminum sculpture by Cork Marcheschi shows the cattails that surround the station.

    The trouble is, the walls climbing up to the top of the dome are inconsistently detailed - wallboard is painted to look like stone, but only in some places, as if the architects didn't know what effect they were after. Worse, from the benches circling the room, the dome's clerestory windows offer views of not only the sky but also the air-conditioning equipment on the roof. It's hard to imagine the architects of grand buildings of earlier eras placing mechanical equipment where it would mar important vistas.

    The benches themselves -made of chunks of wood as thick as logs - are, visually, far too heavy for the building, and they make the building's lack of substance that much more apparent. The room isn't terrible - it resembles the atrium of a mall - but malls also have signs and merchandise to draw the eye away from the expanses of beige tile.

    Not surprisingly, the best interior elements are the ones that are train station-specific, including giant steel signs on all four sides of the rotunda that list arrivals and departures. The signs have a clarity, not just of lettering, but of design, that the rest of the building lacks, and they suggest that the building would have benefited from a little more honesty about its function. All over the world, architects are creating soaring transportation buildings, including airports, train stations and ferry terminals, with exposed structures that bespeak technological prowess and reaffirm the ability of architecture to inspire. (To its credit, the Port Authority chose the best of those architects, Santiago Calatrava, for its planned transportation hub in Lower Manhattan.)

    The Secaucus Transfer, which has the cruciform floor plan of a great cathedral, is inherently grand, but it hides its grandeur under muddy surface decoration.

    People who move through the station will be delighted by its efficiency and sleekness; it helps that, with hardly anyone spending more than a few minutes there, it is immaculate. But it could have been much more than an attractive pass-through.

    Inevitably, office buildings and hotels will rise around the station. The new neighborhood could have had a real monument - with either the solidity of a great old station or the drama of a great new one - at its heart.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  9. #39

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    I heard on the Hudson Rail tunnel the station will be a big part of it. Is that true?

  10. #40
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    Cool From Hudsoncountynj.org

    NEW COUNTY ROAD INTERCHANGE PROJECT COMPLETED AND OPEN TO PUBLIC

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Jersey City, NJ — The New County Road Interchange project officially was completed today with a ribbon cutting ceremony hosted by County Executive Tom DeGise, Secaucus Mayor Denis Elwell and officials from the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.

    The project involved the construction of two bridges: one over Norfolk Southern Railroad which leads into the Cruxton Yard intermodal freight transit facility and the other which spans above County Road ramps. The interchange consists of New County Road, County Avenue and County Road at the north end of the bridges.

    The interchange provides full turning movements at the intersection of the three roads without need for stopping at a traffic signal. At the south end of the new bridges, New County Road intersects Seaview Avenue with a new traffic signal. Additionally the project gets rid of a railroad grade crossing that frequently blocked New County Road traffic. More importantly, the interchange provides Secaucus and Jersey City with a greatly improved vital link to the new NJ Turnpike Exit 15X, Seaview Avenue and Laurel Hill Park.

    "This is another step in improving our infrastructure to make Hudson County safer, more competitive and more easy to navigate," said County Executive DeGise. "I want to that the Turnpike Authority and the Port Authority for their role in making this new interchange a reality and our County engineering staff for their valuable contributions to this project."

    The project was managed by the NJ Turnpike who also provided most of the funds for design and construction. The Port Authority of NY & NJ and the County of Hudson also provided funds. The County's primary contribution was to dedicate approximately $5 million towards the purchase of the properties needed for the project and to be willing to take on the interchange as a county thoroughfare, responsible for all future maintenance and improvements.

    The project was broken down into several contracts, including: Utility Relocations (Gas, Sewer & Jersey City watermain), Seaview Avenue Extension and the New County Road Interchange (which was the last completed). The Conti Group of South Plainfield, NJ was the designated contractor for all three projects.

    The New County Road Interchange's construction cost was approximately $18 million and took two years to complete. The Seaview Avenue extension was completed in 2006 at cost of approximately $5 million. The utilities relocation cost $14 million and was completed in 2005. All together, approximately $42 million was spent on these valuable infrastructure investments.

    The New County Road Interchange opened today, September 14, 2007 for traffic. However about another two months will be required to complete the rest of the work and to close out all paperwork and final figures. At that point, the County of Hudson will accept the interchange to own and maintain as a county thoroughfare.

  11. #41
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    Arrow Good Idea or Bad Idea?

    Bid to build 1st parking lot at Secaucus Junction

    Thursday, December 13, 2007
    By TOM FEENEY
    NEWHOUSE NEWS SERVICE

    Commuter parking could arrive at the Secaucus Junction train station years before the area around it is developed.

    Edison Properties wants to build a temporary 1,100-space parking lot on land it owns near Secaucus Junction, the only major station in the NJ Transit system without local parking. The Newark company filed a proposal with the Meadowlands Commission on Nov. 30.

    A company called Allied Junction once planned to build offices and other commercial space above and around the station, but those plans stalled.

    Last week, NJ Transit officials said they have agreed to pay $25 million to buy the 18-acre tract from Allied. Executive Director Richard Sarles said NJ Transit will seek other developers. Though a parking garage would be included in any project, construction is years away.


    "It will be a long time before you will see any real construction at the train station," said Edison Chairman Jerry Gottesman, whose company owns parking lots in Newark, New York and Baltimore. "We think this is a viable short-term alternative."

    NJ Transit spent more than $600 million to build the Frank R. Lautenberg Rail Station at Secaucus Junction. The Turnpike Authority spent $250 million building interchange 15X to provide access to the site.

    The project was envisioned as a junction rather than a park-and-ride - a place where riders on the Pascack Valley and Main/Bergen lines could transfer onto trains to Manhattan. There is no place to park in the vicinity of the station.

    Environmentalists and mass transit advocates would like it to stay that way.

    "When they built this station, NJ Transit promised there would never be any parking there because it would be environmentally unsound," Albert Cafiero of Tenafly said during an NJ Transit board meeting yesterday. "That's one of the reasons the environmental groups supported the project. Now NJ Transit wants to go back on its word."

    Jeff Tittel, director of the Sierra Club's New Jersey Chapter, said adding parking at the station would contribute to sprawl and further clog the already congested Eastern Spur of the Turnpike.

    "This is dumb growth," Tittel said. "It's a 1950s mentality - more traffic, more sprawl, more air pollution."

    State Transportation Commissioner Kris Kolluri, who serves as chairman of the NJ Transit board, said the agency erred a decade ago when it decided to build the Secaucus station without parking. He said he and Gov. Jon Corzine support parking facilities at the site. He said he was aware of the Edison proposal and in support of a temporary parking facility on privately owned land.

  12. #42
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    Exclamation Luxury Rentals In Secaucus

    Here is a link to the new luxury rentals being built across River Rd. from Secaucus Junction. It is called Xchangenj.com. Not much on the site, but can sign up for info if one pleases.

    Here is the site:
    http://xchangenj.com/

  13. #43

    Default Xchange

    Egads - nearly $1,900 a month for a one-bedroom - and other than the station and the park, there's nothing else within walking distance. I wonder if anyone will wind up living there.

    How much would they go for if they were condos?

  14. #44

    Default Next Stop: A Commuter Village

    Alex di Suvero for The New York Times
    SECAUCUS AS DESTINATION The Xchange development is to have 2,000 rental units as well as a park, a river walk and other amenities.


    By ANTOINETTE MARTIN
    Published: May 18, 2008
    SECAUCUS

    TWO contentious plans for the Meadowlands area are already on the radar screen: Xanadu, the giant retail and entertainment complex going up in East Rutherford; and EnCap, a now-canceled project that was to clean up several large former landfills in marshy sections of Rutherford and Lyndhurst and turn them into residential sites and golf courses.

    Now comes the Secaucus meadowlands’ turn at transformation — this one perhaps less fraught. Within several weeks, the first 300 units of Xchange at Secaucus Junction, a 2,000-unit rental housing “village” planned for 60 acres beside the regional train transfer station here, will be put on the market.

    Developers are creating a “mini-Central Park” as part of the complex, in addition to a river walk (already partly built), a boat launching area and an array of amenities that the builder, Fraternity Meadows, says will rival those of Manhattan apartments while costing roughly half as much.

    One-bedroom units with 752 to 793 square feet will rent for $1,800 to $1,900 a month, said Jeremy Halpern, who heads Fraternity Meadows, a subsidiary of the Atlantic Realty Development Corporation, which is led by his father, Jack. Two-bedroom units with 1,067 to 1,222 square feet will go for $2,150 to $2,250, and three-bedrooms with 1,427 to 1,527 square feet are $2,450 to $2,550.

    “This is a whole new level for Secaucus,” Mr. Halpern said, “way more upscale than anything that now exists.”

    “All this,” he added, with a sweeping gesture meant to include the 2,000-foot-long expanse that is to become a park, “one stop from Midtown.”
    Secaucus Junction itself was not conceived as a place for people to live, nor even really to linger. The rail-passenger transfer station was built at a point where Hoboken- and New York-bound lines cross, in order to permit riders to change trains easily and shorten commutes.

    During rush hour, as many as 10 trains per hour make the 10-minute trip to Penn Station in New York — and the transfer station has an average of 8,000 visitors per day. But almost immediately after the $450 million transfer station opened in 2000, mass transit planners realized it could have attracted vastly more use if a commuter parking lot had been included in the plan.

    Also, by then, the state’s Transit Village program had been inaugurated, and with it came a whole new way of thinking about appropriate development around Secaucus Junction.

    In 2002, the station and 600 surrounding acres were designated as a transit-oriented redevelopment. Right after that, Mr. Halpern said, his company bought a parcel near the station.

    The Xchange complex will have garage parking for its residents, but the issue of commuter parking has never been resolved.

    But that might be on the verge of changing. Just two weeks ago, Edison Properties of Newark, which owns another piece of land beside the station, proposed a “temporary” parking lot to attract more train riders. Under its proposal, a lot would be built to last seven years; after that, the land would be made available for “suitable redevelopment.”

    Mr. Halpern is all for the idea. “We need to bring lots and lots of people here,” he said. “We are going to create a fantastic environment with our project, with a big public park leading to the river, with a wonderful natural environment complemented with the scenic tapestry our designers create. Our park will be tied right into Laurel Park next door, where the city is making great improvements. We need to build a real village with lots of people moving around and through it, and the more people who come to this place every day, the better.”

    (Laurel Park is the site of the annual Meadowlands Festival, celebrating the splendors of wetlands. It nestles beside the Hackensack River at the base of a 150-foot-high outcropping — known as Fraternity Rock because college students have painted Greek letters on the side that faces the eastern spur of the Turnpike.)

    Extolling the delights of the park that he is developing, Mr. Halpern said it would incorporate elements of Central Park’s design, and described it as a gift to Secaucus from his company. “We want people to love this place, and flock to it, and give it vitality, which will benefit us financially in return — if not now, then in the long run by making people want to live here,” he said.

    The rental buildings at Xchange at Secaucus Junction are all going to be huge, but low-lying — only four stories tall. Each will be configured like the first 300-unit building: with two lobbies, two mailrooms and long narrow wings — or spokes — to the structure, enclosing garden areas on three sides, and providing residents with some sense of privacy, Mr. Halpern said.

    Amenities were also selected to help build a sense of community for occupants, who are likely to begin moving in by late summer, he said. Besides the outdoor recreational possibilities, the buildings will offer fitness centers and an Internet cafe.

    Units are being wired for hookup to four multimedia services and equipped with built-in plugs for stereo speakers. On a wall in each unit there will also be touch pads linked to building managers and lobby attendants. Residents will be able to enter the building via key card or fingerprint scan.

  15. #45
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    Lightbulb Meadowlands Apartments

    Complex rises from the marshes near Secaucus Junction rail station


    Andrew Mills/The Star-Ledger
    Xchange at Secaucus is a brand-new, 304-unit condo complex near NJ Transit's Seacaucus Junction stop.

    by Maura McDermott/The Star-Ledger
    Sunday November 02, 2008, 3:57 PM

    The apartment building looks like it dropped from the sky into a wasteland of warehouses, rail lines and marshes between the two spurs of the New Jersey Turnpike at Exit 15X, near the Secaucus Junction train station.

    "Now renting," a 40-foot-long banner proclaims to passing commuters.

    It's not the world's likeliest spot for a gleaming new apartment complex.

    "At first the post office wasn't delivering because there were only like three people living here," said Karima Ravenell, who moved into Xchange at Secaucus Junction along with her husband Joseph when it opened in July.

    Now 252 of the 304 apartments are spoken for, and 178 apartments and 30,000 square feet of shops are under construction next door, according to the developer, Jeremy Halpern of Atlantic Realty. All told, the complex could eventually grow to more than 2,000 units.

    The remote location isn't a problem for residents such as the Ravenells, both 34, who live in a spacious three-bedroom with their children, ages 2 months and 20 months.

    Joseph Ravenell takes a 10-minute train ride to Midtown Manhattan, where he is a physician and researcher at New York University Medical Center. On weekends they take the Lincoln Tunnel to see friends in the city, or the Turnpike to visit friends in Bergen and Essex counties.

    It's quiet and safe, with a playground, amphitheater and landscaped promenade, and Laurel Hill County Park is right nearby, Karima Ravenell said. The building has its own gym and a media room with flat-screen televisions, computers and a pool table.

    And it's all new, down to the fingerprint scan system that lets her into the building at the touch of her index finger, she said.

    When the Ravenells decided to move back to the metropolitan area from Dallas, Karima toured train-line towns from Secaucus to Short Hills. This struck the best balance of location, price and amenities, she said.

    "It is a little bit more of an industrial area," she acknowledged. But, she said, "In the suburbs, unless you live right in the town center, where you live is pretty remote. You do have to drive to the grocery store so that really didn't bother me."

    It makes sense to build homes near the $609 million Secaucus Junction station, "to give some economic rationale for all that investment," said James Hughes, dean of the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers. "To the degree that Manhattan is an economic locomotive, you should tie your housing market to that economic locomotive."

    But environmentalists have long feared the station -- and the $250 million Turnpike exit -- would open an already crowded, environmentally fragile area to more development.

    Now those fears have been realized, said Jeff Tittel, head of the state's Sierra Club.

    "We've spent hundreds of millions of dollars to make an excuse for development," he said.

    Plus, it's unwise to locate homes in a contaminated industrial zone, he said.

    Not so, Halpern said.

    The land -- formerly an asphalt plant and ash landfill -- has been cleaned up, with contaminated soil removed and the land capped with clean soil, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection. A methane gas venting and monitoring system shows the closed landfill emits little or no gas, Halpern said.


    Local roads see little increased traffic, since three-quarters of residents take the shuttle to the train station, and the Turnpike entrance is close by, he said.

    The shuttle goes to the train station every 10 minutes or so, and to nearby stores a few times a week, Halpern said. Most apartments come with only one parking space, although residents can rent a car for $10 an hour.

    The goal is to discourage too much reliance on automobiles, Halpern said.

    Plus, the complex has "green" features such as a cylindrical wind turbine that powers a streetlight at the entrance to the complex. Ten more will follow, he said.

    Halpern said the next building could use fiber-optic cables to filter sunlight into common hallways, solar panels and geothermal energy, or heat from within the Earth.


    Living in the new building is not cheap, but it is less than half the price of living in Midtown Manhattan, Halpern said.

    Rents for most of the one- to three-bedroom apartments range from $1,750 to $2,450. Sixty-four of the apartments have reduced rents for families with low or moderate incomes.

    The development received no state grants or tax breaks, he said.

    Ironically, it did get a boost from the troubled housing market, since many would-be buyers are signing leases instead, Halpern said.

    That's one big reason Nishi Singh, 30, a consultant for IBM, moved from Manhattan to Xchange in August -- she and her husband are saving for a down payment and waiting for the turmoil in the housing market to subside.

    But in the meantime, they're enjoying their new home, she said. They're even looking to buy a house in another section of Secaucus.

    Their current neighborhood "is mainly warehouses," Singh said. "I'm hoping that after four or five years it's going to change."

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