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Thread: Jersey City Rising

  1. #166

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    February 27, 2005

    POSTINGS

    A New Lease on Life for Jersey City Complex

    By ANTOINETTE MARTIN


    ART DECO DESIGN The former home of the Jersey City Medical Center will be converted to residential and commercial use. Developers plan to preserve the complex's Art Deco-style lobby, middle. Residents will have spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline.

    ersey City

    BUILT during the Great Depression by dint of an irresistible force named Frank Hague - the prevailing political boss here for a period of 40 years - the eight colossal buildings of the Jersey City Medical Center now stand empty and sorry-looking on a rise near Journal Square that overlooks Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.

    The last tenant in the complex - its general hospital - moved to a new building across town 11 months ago.

    Now, a new lease on life is about to take effect for the two-million-square-foot complex. Work is set to begin in June on a $350 million renovation that will create 1,200 apartments, both rentals and condos, along with a central courtyard featuring a restaurant, a grocery store and shops.

    The Art Deco-style buildings are to be restored in all their original ornate detail, according to the developer, Metrovest Equities. But because they are not directly on the waterfront, they will be less expensive than the modern towers that have risen by the Hudson River over the last decade.

    "The cost of a one-bedroom apartment will be about the same as what a studio costs on the waterfront," said George Filopoulos, president of Metrovest, which is based in Manhattan. "The cost of a two-bedroom will equal the cost of a one-bedroom near the water," which he estimated to be in the mid-$300,000's.

    At the medical complex - which is being renamed the Beacon - prices for the 314 one-bedroom apartments that will be created in the first phase of construction will start in the mid-$200,000's and rise to the low $300,000's, according to Mr. Filopoulos.

    "Eventually, there will be a number of spectacular penthouses and larger apartments here," he said, adding that no decision had been made on what proportion of the units would be rentals.

    "First," he added, "we are going to focus on the large group that has been shut out of the market for a number of years" - meaning those who want to own condos in Jersey City but can't afford waterfront prices.

    The neighborhood around the complex on Montgomery Avenue near Baldwin Street has long been down at the heels. Several subsidized housing projects - slated for demolition at some unspecified future date - occupy the surrounding streets, along with faded Victorians and 1920's-era row houses. The medical center, by contrast, epitomizes the elegance of vintage public buildings.

    "This place was pure splendor and grandeur," the current mayor, Jeremiah T. Healy, said as he accompanied developers from Metrovest on a recent tour through several of the monumental structures arranged in an enormous rectangle east of the revived Journal Square. "It could never be recreated - but it can be restored," he said. "When it is, there will be nothing like it."

    Mr. Filopoulos emphatically agreed. "These structures could never be rebuilt and nobody would try, because of the lavish amounts of space - grand entrances and 25-foot ceilings, wide hallways with marble walls, theater space and solariums, plus the ornate detail of the interior and exterior," he said. "That would all be cost prohibitive."

    "All those things," he added, "will equate to extensive amenities for the tenants of the restored buildings."

    The eight structures, ranging from 8 to 22 stories, cannot be destroyed or significantly altered because they were placed on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places about 20 years ago. Officials from the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency, who also attended the recent private tour, said they worked for years to find the right developer to restore the buildings and relaunch the entire neighborhood, in the same way that development of apartment towers on the waterfront and skyscrapers downtown transformed those districts over the past decade.

    "The buildings are connected to the heart of Jersey City history," Mayor Healy said. "People care about them."

    Like former Gov. James E. McGreevey and countless other New Jerseyans of a certain age, Mayor Healy's oldest son, Jeremiah, was born here, in the Margaret Hague Maternity Hospital.

    Frank Hague served as mayor from 1917 to 1947 after building a political machine based on street-gang muscle. During the New Deal, he wielded his influence with President Franklin D. Roosevelt to garner public works financing to fuel construction of the third-largest medical center in the country. The maternity hospital building was named for his mother.

    Nearly as soon as the monumental complex was complete in 1941, local historians say, it was clear that it was too large for the city's needs. On Sept. 11, 2001, however, it sprang to service as a regional medical center, processing hundreds of emergency cases at a time. For decades before that, though, it was recognized as a money-losing boondoggle, and most of its space had been vacated by the 1980's.

    The hospital was put on notice several years ago that it too would have to leave after a redeveloper had been selected to rehabilitate the entire complex.

    Today, the buildings have some crumbling walls and broken-out ceilings, and generally show the heavy wear associated with serving the public for more than 50 years.

    On the other hand, their Art Deco ornamentation remains nonpareil - exterior terra cotta panels encrusted with fancy flora and fowl, gilt chevron-and-diamond shapes over doorways, exquisite geometric design along beamed ceilings, art-glass windowpanes, elaborate light fixtures and brass railings - and even a collection of Deco-style furniture left in the grand entrance hall that remains in such excellent shape that is has served as the set for several period movies, including "Quiz Show" and "The Royal Tenenbaums."

    Mr. Filopoulos said that before submitting a redevelopment plan for the complex, his architects had to measure every inch of the place and take inventory of every detail to create a new set of blueprints.

    "What exists here is unique," he said, still sounding awed two years after plans were submitted. "And it will live on."

    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

  2. #167
    Jersey Patriot JCMAN320's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Now it's time for the midtown of our city to shine with Journal Square coming back and the medical center coming back, the midtown area of the city will be just as desirable as the waterfront. This is also a historic area with Bergen Church and it's cemetery that date back to the 1660's and the Apple Tree House where George Washington and General Lafayette discussed plans under an apple tree in the back yard over tea for the Revolutionary War. We have beautiful Lincoln Park with many small Victorian Mansions here too, not too mention its in the area where our city was first founded back in 1663.

  3. #168
    Jersey Patriot JCMAN320's Avatar
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    Default On the way...

    Here are some peaks at future projects...

    77 Hudson St.
    http://www.77hudson.com
    http://www.emporis.com/en/wm/bu/?id=100719

    Harborside Plaza 6 and 7 (6 is the little building to the left)
    http://www.emporis.com/en/wm/bu/?id=101574

    Newark Ave. Apartment Building and Hotel
    http://www.emporis.com/en/wm/bu/?id=190407

  4. #169
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    77 Hudson needs a redesign, and Dewitt Tishman should be barred from practice. They already screwed one block of JC, a big apartment building that's just nasty. I think it's called the Sierra or something like that. This new one is actually the best work I've seen of them.

  5. #170

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    thanks for those sneak-peeks JC -- I am real exicted about the Newark and Grove bldg <-- if it ever gets built, I really think it can transform the area....

    Is an 800 ft 7 Harborside realistic? I can't imagine that getting built anytime soon; there is already a glut of office space....

  6. #171

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    It says Harborside is already approved. Im glad, it will really add to the skyline! I think the JC and NY skylines compliment each other well.

  7. #172
    Jersey Patriot JCMAN320's Avatar
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    The Apt. Building on Newark and Grove is about to get underway, they have a fence around the area with trucks and buldozers in there so they should break gorund this spring, and I agree with you ILUVNYC the Jersey City Waterfront skylne and Lower Manhattan's skyline compliment eachother very well. Also tone your right it won't get built until the office market comes back so lets hope that's real soon!!!

  8. #173
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    16-story 'Shore Club' to be built
    City council votes 7-2 for controversial abatement in front of packed crowd

    Ricardo Kaulessar
    Reporter staff writer 02/26/2005

    The ordinance was for the approval of a tax abatement for a project to be built at 20 Newport Parkway.

    The building would be 16 stories with 212 market rate residential condominium units; a 7-story parking garage for 542 parking spaces, and one retail unit with approximately 36,300 square feet of space.

    James McCann, an attorney for the Shore Club South Urban Renewal Company, LLC (of which James and Richard LeFrak of the Newport Development Company are the principals), said at the meeting that if the council granted the abatement, construction would start as early as this summer and end in 2007.

    But this abatement has been controversial from the time it was introduced in the City Council at the previous meeting on Feb. 9.

    When abatements are granted, it means that developers pay a percentage of the revenue earned from the development directly to a municipality instead of regular property taxes that change from year to year. The payments are often called PILOTs (payments in lieu of taxes), whereby developers give the money directly to the municipalities rather than paying full taxes for a period of 20 or 30 years.

    PILOTs are hotly debated because while the payments are legal under state statute, they allow developers to avoid paying school and county taxes, while regular taxpayers have to bear the costs of both.

    Abatements have been designed to draw developers to unused or blighted land. But their critics have argued that in this development climate, they're no longer necessary.

    During the public speaking portion of an initial Feb. 9 meeting, two longtime Jersey City residents - Yvonne Balcer and Dan Falcon - spoke out against the abatement, saying the project would be constructed on a prime piece of real estate in an area that is already overdeveloped.

    At that meeting, there were only a handful of attendees, but last week's meeting saw a much bigger crowd, many of the individuals finding out through the "JClist" Internet bulletin board that Falcon operates.

    Balcer and Falcon again spoke out against the abatement, but were joined a number of other speakers, pro and con.

    After nearly three hours of listening to public speaking for and against the abatements, the City Council voted 7-2 in favor of the abatement.
    What is an abatement?

    The granting of abatements has always been hotly debated. But most developers justify the need by saying their buildings will provide jobs to city residents, and attract a populace who will bring more money into a city and contribute to the city's further economic growth.

    In Jersey City, thousands of projects constructed over the past 20 years within the city have been granted abatements. Usually, the request is submitted to the City Council for their approval in the form of an ordinance.

    In the case of last week's City Council meeting, there were other abatements for residential condominiums that were approved unanimously by the council with very little opposition from the public.

    The City Council has often looked favorably on abatements because the money received has been utilized for closing budget gaps, which council members have stated at past council meetings enables the city to avoid raising municipal taxes.

    (In this case, the developers would pay directly to the city an annual charge of $1,344,894 along with a contribution to the city's Affordable Housing Trust Fund in the amount of $373,963.)

    No abatement or no jobs

    Some residents brought signs protesting the abatement.

    Those in support were construction workers who had worked on previous projects in the Newport area, many coming in two buses parked in front of City Hall, and office workers working along the waterfront. They expressed the fear that the project by the Shore Club Company would not be built if the abatement was not approved.

    "They need this work.....I hear the horror stories," said Don Capasso of the Jersey City-based Local 14 Building and Metal Trades Union. "This will be a light at the end of the tunnel. These are not just construction workers, but also they're your neighbors."

    That prompted a question from Viola Richardson, asking if many of the construction jobs on the project would be filled by Jersey City residents. Capasso said many of the workers on the proposed project would be hired from Jersey City.

    Eddie Torres, a construction worker who grew up in Downtown Jersey City, remembers how many developments were built in the mid 1980s in what became known as the Newport section. He said it happened as result of abatements on those projects.

    "It gave me a five-year education," he said. "As the buildings got built....I was still able to work and I was still able to make a living."

    But speakers against the abatement said the project could still be built without it. They said it would place further taxation upon homeowners and would not bring about further economic growth.

    Sam Stoia, a resident of Jersey City since 1992 and a current homeowner in the Hamilton Park section, spoke against the abatement on the grounds that it would be an economic liability.

    "There is nothing to demonstrate that this new building will bring new economic life to Jersey City. This building will go up with or without the abatement, and these union employees will be hired regardless," said Stoia.

    Warren Curtin, a real estate agent and a homeowner who also resides in the Hamilton Park area, argued that giving an abatement to a developer who could afford to build and pay the normal taxes on a prime piece of real estate was "unconscionable."

    A 'Shore' bet

    The council voted 7-2 to approve the 20-year tax abatement for the project by the Shore Club Company.

    Ward A Councilwoman Kathleen Curran voted in favor on the basis that the abatement would allow for a project by a developer such as LeFrak who has also built several schools and recreation facilities in the Newport area. She said the PILOT payments would help to stabilize city's tax rate.

    Ward F Councilperson Junior Maldonado, who represents most of Downtown Jersey City including the Newport area, voted against the abatement, pointing out that project would be built near the Jersey City waterfront, a location with plenty of development taking place.

    "I see big projects going up on the waterfront in Hoboken and Weehawken and West New York that are being done without an abatement, and I have to ask, can [the Shore Club project] be done without an abatement?" said Maldonado. "I believe it can be done and will be done."

    Maldonado also volunteered his services as a chairman of the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency to help find a developer who would build the project without tax abatement.

    ©The Hudson Reporter 2005

  9. #174

    Default The Foundry and development west of Liberty State Park

    What do you guys think about the new condo development "The Foundry" and the area around Liberty State Park?

    Thanks!
    Sam

  10. #175
    Jersey Patriot JCMAN320's Avatar
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    The area around there is known as the Lafayette section of Jersey City. I think the project is great for the area, it along with other old factories in the area are being converted into condos. The area is Jersey City's Harlem. In it's heyday it was a very affluent African American community where doctors lawyers lived and Fredrick Douglass had a move studio there as long with many other famous African Amercians. The area has seen better days, but it is making a turn around with a new park and renovating schools and buildings and building new apartments and homes are replacing housing projects. The area is also going to see a 3 tower apartment highrise come to the area right next to the Liberty Science Center. So in all the area is deffinately coming back. Hopefully this ansewers your questions.

  11. #176

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    Hey JCMAN, any areas in Jersey City where I could get a 1br for 1,000/month or less?

  12. #177

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    Alex, you can find that in Manhattan if you look hard enough.

  13. #178
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    Yes Alex. There definately should be some in downtown Jersey City look west of the waterfront like from Marin Blvd. on inland. Also the Journal Square area which is undergoing a huge much needed building boom and face lift, is where you will find the most. People who try to move to Downtown Jersey City or Hoboken and can't afford it are moving into that area and it is really in the process of making a complete 360. There are art galleries up there as well as artists and musicians always walking around there. Just let me know if you need more info.

  14. #179

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    Quote Originally Posted by JCMAN320
    Yes Alex. There definately should be some in downtown Jersey City look west of the waterfront like from Marin Blvd. on inland. Also the Journal Square area which is undergoing a huge much needed building boom and face lift, is where you will find the most. People who try to move to Downtown Jersey City or Hoboken and can't afford it are moving into that area and it is really in the process of making a complete 360. There are art galleries up there as well as artists and musicians always walking around there. Just let me know if you need more info.
    Do you think any areas will still hold out by 2006-2008? Or is JC gonna go the way of the Village by then? Also, I know PATH is in the Jornal Sq area and the HBLR is along the waterfront, but if I go inland, how do I connect to the city and some shopping/entertainment areas by the waterfront?

  15. #180
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    Yea the Heights will still hold out as well as Journal Square. The city as whole isn't going to the way of tiny Hoboken or the village in the short of time, were far to large. Only downtown will go the way of the village in that time span, other areas of the city will take a while. To get to the city and the waterfront you can use the PATH. There is a stop at Grove St., the heart of Downtown, then Exchange Place at the waterfront and Newport at the Mall and surrounding development. To get to the city, the PATH goes to WTC after Exchange Place and Christopher, 9th, 14th, 23rd, 33rd and Herald Square after Newport. To get to other areas of the city the numerous bus lines are sufficent and the Light Rail meets with Exchange Place and Newport PATH stations and will take you to the Heights, Liberty State Park with the Liberty Science Center, and other parts of Downtown as well as other parts of western Jersey City by New Jersey City University, and southern Jersey City. Here are some transit links that should be of some service.

    http://www.njtransit.com
    http://www.njtransit.com/images/hb_final_1031.gif
    http://www.panynj.com
    Click on PATH Rail System, then system map to give a map of the PATH system and neighborhood of each station.

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