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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Bits & Briefs

Hoboken University Medical Center
City taking over money losing operations at St. Mary's hospital, hoping for federal aid, arrival of McDreamy, McSteamy by becoming a teaching hospital.

City officials face challenges over clock, fate in city's hands, time running out
Goldman Sachs, Colgate and the City are fighting over the position of the historic clock and a million dollar payment owed to the city.

Victory Hall Defeated
The non-profit special events and arts venue loses its lease in the fall. The building, owned by Our Lady of Czestochowa Church is preparing to open a pre-school.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

30 Unit Proposal for Newark Avenue

Rumors circulating over on JCList suggest that the western end of Newark Avenue might finally be tickled with redevelopment. It seems a 5 story building with underground parking has been proposed for the sites at 292 - 294 Newark Avenue and 334 - 336 & 340 Third Street. Further, the property at 334 - 336 Third Street seems to have been recently sold: the $2.2 Million Listing is "no longer available." The description for that parcel of land includes "Approved Plan to build 12 residential and 2 commercial units... a total of 17,000 sf."


Monday, January 29, 2007

Hudson Restaurant Week Begins

Today marks the start of Hudson Restaurant Week, the two week long event where restaurants throughout Jersey City and Hoboken offer prix fixe menus.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Bits and Briefs

Pay-to-Play Reform Fails Fulop gets his 15 Minutes, city still gets development.

Pocono-Hoboken Rail Service Could Start by 2012 After passing an environmental study, the only thing needed is the money. Actual Completion: 2102.

PATH Substation Failure Slows Trains Also redraws map: "a substation at Washington Street near Journal Square failed."

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Lot Cleared On Jersey Avenue

One day there is a small shanty town, and the next an empty lot primed for new construction. The lot between Jersey Avenue and Coles Street on 16th Street was cleared of buildings and debris. We're not sure what is planned for the site, but its two blocks south of 833 Jersey Avenue, a new luxury mid-rise that recently broke ground, and across the street from housing projects. At the moment, we're hard pressed to find any information on the site, whether its simply a cleanup of the lot in anticipation of a sale, or whether there is a proposed or approved construction project for the lot.

More Photos


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Bits & Briefs

Billy-burg Developer Voted the Worst Coincidentally, he's building in Hoboken too.

NJ Transit Proposes 10% Fare Increase Because we need more people driving into Manhattan.

Merrill Lynch considering Jersey City Though perhaps only to induce New York to give them tax breaks. On the other hand, they want at least a 48 story tower.

Healy Gets His Day in Court We're guessing he and Bloomberg don't run in the same social circle.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Aqua: Higher, Fewer Units?

The Aqua, one of the next buildings going in over at the northern end of Newport, right down in front of the as yet to be completed Shore Club, might be getting just a little higher.

According to one post on the Wired New York Forums, the building is going before the planning board for a slight height increase, more retail space, and five fewer units.

Meanwhile, it seems the footprint for Aqua has already been cleared in preparation for a early spring groundbreaking.


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Hoboken Wiki Launched

The folks over at Hoboken based blog The Hoboken Blog have gone and launched a new site based on Wikipedia. The HobokenWiki is a user driven site much like the real Wikipedia, but only filled with all the knowledge Hoboken residents have to offer. Eventually, there might be articles in the HobokenWiki too. So if local Wiki's interest you, or if you have a few facts you want to jot down on the internet, check it out.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

296 Grand Street Breaks Ground

296 Grand Street was approved in October. Its a fairly small project compared to Liberty Harbor North going in across the street.

According to the official website, the 4 story, 6 unit building will have roof top decks with views of the statue of liberty and lower Manhattan, at least before Liberty Harbor construction is finished. 296 Grand Street sits along Barrow between Bright and Grand, and with expected completion sometime around September of this year, you can bet those units are sold before southern most towers in Liberty Harbor even have a finalized set of blue prints.

See More Photos

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Interactive PATH Timetable

Wondering when the next PATH train is scheduled to depart from the local station? Wonder no more with the interactive schedule online at We aren't certain how accurate this whole thing is, but wouldn't it be great to think that it was. Common sense would lead us to believe the Port Authority would figure out a system like this, but that assumes the folks who work at the Port Authority had any common sense.

Via JCList


The Vanishing Skyline

Just a few years ago, a walk along Palisades Avenue afforded magnificent views of the New York City skyline. Out of state visitors arriving by Interstate 78 enjoyed similarly spectacular views of Manhattan as they rounded the final bend of elevated highway before descending into the Holland Tunnel. But over the past five years, New York's skyline has slowly melted away, and now belongs on the endangered species' list.

Waterfront development in Jersey City has accelerated in the last five years, and with lots along the water filling with thirty, forty, and fifty story buildings, the new towers are moving further west. A decade ago, when lower Manhattan still had the twin towers of the World Trade Center, most of Jersey City's skyline did not exist. And by the time the new world trade center is finished, the urban infill on the Jersey side of the Hudson River will obscure the line of demarcation between New York and Jersey City from anywhere but the river's edge.

The Hudson River, the most obvious evidence that there are two city skylines, not one, is still visible in a few spots along the waterfront. Yet, between current construction and proposed plans for new towers, these 'holes' will soon be filled. Once the Hudson River is no longer visible, the vistas from places like the Palisades or the elevated levels of the Turnpike will offer only a single, uninterrupted skyline. The uneducated viewers may find difficulty in identifying Jersey City as its own place, separate from lower Manhattan.

New York's skyline of course will still be taller than that of Jersey City's. Already, the World Financial Center and many of lower Manhattan's other towers surpass those in Jersey City in terms of height. Even with proposals for more tall towers on New Jersey's side, the World Trade Center replacement will raise New York's skyline higher. But its likely Freedom Tower and her smaller cousins will not have the same magnitude of the original World Trade Center; the first fifty stories of the Freedom tower will be hidden by the shroud of Jersey City's skyline. Indeed, much of lower Manhattan, at least from a western viewpoint, will simply be absorbed by Jersey City.

Jersey City's skyline has quickly become one that would rival most international cities, and over the next two decades further development will certainly lead to more towers on the Jersey City side. As a result, very soon, New York's skyline, at least from the west, will disappear altogether.


Monday, January 15, 2007

News Roundup

AM New York Discovers Jersey City About as accurate as a you might expect a free paper to be.

Healy spokeswoman on developer's payroll Because some people find this sort of thing surprising.

Old coffee plant - now 'Maxwell Place' Condos with cream and sugar.

Weekend Construction-porn Wrap Up

Sunday, January 14, 2007

109 Christopher Columbus Drive

A month ago, this small commuter parking lot was filled with cars. And then we saw a piece of heavy equipment parked on the lot and a green privacy fence that usually means some sort of construction. From what we can tell, we're talking about a small mixed use development with shops-- 10,000 square feet-- on the ground floor and 18 apartment units above. Its about time this section of Columbus Drive saw some redevelopment. As usually, large photos are on the photoblog.

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Starbucks, Duane Reade: Rumored Arrivals

According to a rumor circulating over on the Kannekt forum, Grove Pointe will soon be home to everyone's favorite Seattle Coffee house and a Duane Reade. An anonymous user writes:

"I went to sales office, they said that Starbucks and Duane Reade have already signed on for retail space"

Of course, the great thing about anonymous users is that they can say whatever they want and don't need any real proof. Not that this stops us from reporting that Starbucks is on its way. On one hand, both Starbucks and Duane Reade would seem to be the perfect fit for a new high rise tower. On the other hand, the sort of people buying into Grove Pointe or leasing Columbus Plaza probably would see both as an amenity they couldn't give up moving out of Manhattan. We wouldn't put it past a sales agent to anonymously report a coming Starbucks to move a unit or two. But that being said, a Grove Pointe Starbucks fits with the other rumors we've heard.

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Friday, January 12, 2007

City Surprised to Learn Cars Come From Neighborhoods With Few Subways

The New York Times is reporting that a "surprising" number of cars pour into the city from the five boroughs, clogging roads. As the city considers proposals for "congestion pricing" (read: higher tolls), this sort of data is important.

Indeed half the vehicles coming into New York City (for the purpose of the study, the business districts below 60th street) are coming from the five boroughs. But consider this; the five boroughs include Staten Island, which has no subway access, and the outer reaches of Brooklyn and Queens where the MTA service makes the PATH look like the eighth wonder of the modern world. In addition, Bergen County produces a huge number of vehicles, and with two million people, is the most populous county in New Jersey, yet the county lacks a direct train connection to Manhattan.

In either case, all this effects Hudson County quite a bit. Any efforts at reducing traffic headed for the city will obviously include slowing the onslaught of vehicles aiming for the Holland Tunnel, either through higher tolls or High Occupancy Vehicle requirements. Such restrictions will be putting more commuters on the PATH, Light Rail, and Ferries leaving from downtown Jersey City and Hoboken.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Rail Yard Redevelopment: Jersey Edition

Perhaps you may recall what now seems a lifetime ago, the fight over what to do with New York's West Side rail yards in the dirty thirties. Local residents there wanted nothing to do with redevelopment fearing high rise buildings would ruin the character of the local neighborhood. Meanwhile, its still the dirty thirties.

Well now according to Hoboken411, its New Jersey's turn to have a go at redeveloping rail yards.

"There is great concern that Mayor David Roberts has given the unofficial green light to the construction of high-rise office and condo towers running from the train station straight up Observer Highway."

Even if Roberts did green light development along the rail yards, we assume there will be a long a protracted fight to stop it. One only needs to look to the Jersey City side to see what we're talking about: Back in early 2001, there was a plan to build the Millennium Towers on the Jersey City side of the rail yards. That met with community opposition and the proposed 45 story towers are now nothing but artist's renderings in an architect's portfolio.

We're for high rises along the rail yards for several reasons. Building over railroad tracks costs quite a bit of money, and money is after all what drives development. If it won't be profitable to redevelop the rail yards, the rail yards will remain an eyesore and will prevent a contiguous urban landscape from forming.

Second, the entire neighborhood north of the Holland tunnel exit and south of Observer Highway is essentially a wasteland, just like the dirty thirties on Manhattan's West Side. The only way to begin to revitalize these areas are a few high rise towers to act as anchors.

Third, fighting these sorts of things only puts off the inevitable, which means in the interim, housing shortages (leading to higher rents) and parking shortages (leading to road rage) and underused mass transit (less incentive to increase and improve service).

Finally, there really isn't a neighborhood that would be disrupted by high rise towers along and above the rail yards. Observer highway does a great job of amputating Hoboken from Jersey City. If you've never walked from Hoboken to Jersey City as we have, you have no right to talk. Take a stroll from Washington Street to say the Newport Mall, and you'll understand what we mean about a vast wasteland. Pedestrians can easily meet with death along the route, not to mention the rather ominous empty lots on the Jersey City side of the rail yards.

In the end of course, the money will talk. If developers can find a way to turn a profit redeveloping the rail yards, then they will be. And if they can't, then they won't.

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World Trade Reconstruction

A large part of Jersey City's redevelopment success over the last few years is obviously due to its proximity to Manhattan, in particular, lower Manhattan and the World Trade Center site. With a PATH Station literally in the center of ground zero, what is ultimately built or not built there will significantly effect the thousands of Jersey City commuters who use the station and work in lower Manhattan. And the millions of square feet of office space will probably also change the Jersey City commercial office space market too.

In either case, believe it or not, the Port Authority seems to have a very good website explaining the future layout and the plans to connect the PATH with Fulton street. It even includes a map, which as you may know, really gets us off. Anyway, plenty of this is still unresolved, but for now at least, this seems to be the plan.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Dogshit Appears in Van Vorst Park

This isn't the scoopable kind either. Someone has taken to writing "Dogshit" on most of Van Vorst Park's benches. While this sort of vandalism is a rather minor indiscretion, there are definitely better avenues for civil disobedience than messing with park benches. We'll recommend anyone with knowledge of this let the authorities know. And if you're the responsible vandal, we suggest switching to a new canvas, like the Fox News advertisements plastered on the PATH. Not that we're advocating that sort of thing, but we're just saying "dogshit" has more of place there than on park benches.

Via JCList


Bits & Briefs

Getting In Shape For the New Year
The Hudson Reporter discusses one Hoboken native's development of a workout video, that surprisingly does not involve keg stands. Or maybe it does.

Oh Heavens Protestants don't want condos on historic church property, evolution in schools. Oh shit, that said Protesters. Protesters don't want evolution in condos, school in church.

After odor blankets New York City, officials point to New Jersey Residents blame fried food, cabbage, "Pull my finger?" jokes. Staten Island unavailable for comment.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

PATH, Subway Station at World Trade Center to be Pretty, Fuctional

The fight over what would happen between the MTA and PATH stations in lower Manhattan has been on going for four or five years. The New York Times is reporting that riders should expect both, as a compromise has been reached, with mostly the MTA shelling out some money to gussy up the Fulton Street station.


Secret Hoboken Street Parking Revealed

The folks over at Hoboken411 may have discovered a bit of free parking, for now at least. Rumor has it that the 11th Street extension next to Maxwell Place is a free-for-all until zone stickers go up in March.

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Hoboken Yuppies Blamed For Warehouse Shortage, Apocalypse

The New York Times has a bit about all the disappearing warehouse space in New Jersey, placing the blame on the popularity of Hoboken and Jersey City as residential communities. It makes mention of The Hudson Tea Building, Maxwell House, and Hostess buildings in Hoboken and in Jersey City the Sugar House and Wells Fargo Lofts.


Night Trash Collection Begins

Monday night marked the beginning of nighttime trash collection for Jersey City. Crews began collecting trash as early as 11p.m. and were off the streets by the morning rush. For many residents it may seem trash had always been collected at night. However, most trash collecting was a very early morning activity. With the population expansion in recent years, sanitation crews were causing traffic snarls as the trucks blocked the streets during the daybreak hours. In an effort to reduce traffic congestion, trash and recyclable materials will be collected during the late night hours.


Friday, January 05, 2007

Pay-to-Play Reform: Marriage License Edition

Just two days after Councilman Steven Fulop announced plans for big developer pay-to-play reforms, a government official has resigned over accusations of corruption.

The outgoing official was not a building inspector or member of the historic preservation commission or the zoning board. Instead, it was Deputy Mayor Ador Equipado who resigned after accusations he demanded a "personal contribution" for marrying a couple, a job included in his salaried position at City Hall.


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Eat Me

Hudson Restaurant Week is coming at the end of January, which means (relatively) cheap eats at a number of spots from Paulus Hook to Hoboken. Meanwhile, it seems Hoboken will be getting a fondue chain restaurant We're unsure as to whether we should be thrilled or appalled.

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Advocacy Group, Councilman, Want Reforms, Publicity

Downtown Councilman Steven Fulop has called for Pay-to-Play Reform to come to Jersey City. Specifically, Fulop is calling on the city to limit contributions from developers .

Certainly in any real estate market as strong Jersey City's, the possibility exists that officials might over look certain things in return for political contributions. But the who's who of contributions are made publicly available on the state's Election Law Enforcement website.

There is one thing that is certain when it comes to money and urban politics; nothing will stop the flow. It is better for contributions to be out in the open rather than behind closed doors. Pay-to-play restrictions won't undo any inappropriate relationships city hall may or may not have with developers. Instead, pay-to-play will simply shift contributions from those that are public knowledge to those that are made in secret or through alternate avenues.

In either case, the pay-to-play reform is also being supported by Civic JC a "non-partisan, Jersey City community-based initiative", an advocacy group that seems to have a position on most of the downtown's hot button issues.

We're betting any reform ordinances won't be going too far, but they sure make good headlines. Just remember, every time a developer makes a political contribution, the terrorists win.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

2007 Ground Breaking Predictions

There are plenty of construction projects coming to the downtown in 2007, and what better time to sum up what to expect. As usual, we put together a map, and below we have details:

1. The Majestic II
From the folks who brought us The Majestic condominiums, the Majestic II promises a similarly integrated apartment / condo project for the opposite corner. Right now the lot is an empty church an abandoned store front across from city hall. The developers have been around Jersey City a while and probably know how to fast track things when they want, so we suspect this building could be well underway by next year. Read More

2. Columbus Corner
Another mid-size development on the outskirts of the Van Vorst Historic District, this project could mean the beginning of a renewal on Columbus Drive. The concept involves ripping up a bit of parking lot and integrating an older tower, a Victorian house, and a brownstone into a larger complex spanning Barrow between Wayne and Columbus. The project is probably a good way of cleaning up the blighted parking lots, but the last we heard the developer was sent back to the drawing boards to make a few minor corrections in terms of size and height. We're hoping though to see this take off soon. Read More

3. Gulls Cove II
With the mammoth Gulls Cove I topping out at its final height, we're expecting that the small Gulls Cove II will soon find its pilings driven into the ground. Located ont he corner of Marin and Grand Streets, this lot is a block from Marin Blvd Light rail station, and in essence connect the northeastern end of Liberty Harbor with the rest of the city.

4. Metropolis Towers
So far the old low-rise structures have been torn apart and a slab foundation laid for part of a new structure everyone seems to think is a parking garage. The next step will probably be two twenty-something story towers along Columbus. With Columbus Tower and Grove Pointe nearing completion, the corner of Marin and Columbus are set to become the new downtown hotspot and we can't imagine the owners of Metropolis Tower property won't want to cash in. Read More

5. 217 Newark Avenue
A large empty lot situated on Newark Avenue, 217-219 Newark is a lot that has been listed on the internet for sale. Included in the sale are plans for a few dozen residential units. Any redevelopment of Newark Avenue will certainly require building something on this lot as the vacancy isolates the eastern and western sections of the avenue from pedestrian traffic. Its fairly unlikely that this project is going to take off in 2007, but nothing like a little wishful thinking.

6. 361 Newark Avenue
A few months back this was an old bagel hut. Then after a quick demolition and pilings driven into the ground, work on the site mysteriously ceased. The developer apparently decided to go from six stories to twelve. It seems likely that construction on the new twelve story mini-tower will resume in 2007.

7. Morgan Point
This project pops up now and again; some sources will list the project as approved while others as under construction. Still there are those who seem to indicate this building is going nowhere. In essence its a ten or twelve story building set on the oddly shaped corner of Stueben and Morgan Streets at the intersection of Marin. There is the potential with this lot for Jersey City to have its own Flatiron-sque building. The development is also just outside the boundaries of the Powerhouse Arts District, but we're under the impression the original idea for this building was to actually meet the PAD requirements. Read more at

8. Aqua
Another announced rental tower in the next phase of Newport. The Aqua consists of a mid-rise base along River Drive and the Hudson River. This will probably do a great job of blocking views in the soon to be completed condominium project The Shore Club, which of course is why its a rental. Expect a somewhat more glass filled tower similar to the Shore Club rather than the boxy concrete slabs that make up the rest of Newport. Read more at The Hudson Reporter
Newport Expansion Map

9. The Ellipse
Technically, the Ellipse will be built on a pier (not shown on map). The Miami-style tower offers a unique addition to the Newport Skyline. The oval shaped building is largely glass and will sit just north of the Aqua and the Shore Club. Both the Aqua and the Ellipse as well as the glass encased Shore Club are a departure from the traditional brick and concrete boxes of the older Newport buildings.
Newport Expansion Map

10 & 11. Grover Cleveland and Ulysses S. Grant
Two more mid-rise towers on Tenth Avenue. These two buildings are similar to the Roosevelt and the Lincoln, two other generic brick mid-rise buildings along Tenth Street. However, the site of the Cleveland and the Grant include the Eleventh Street embankment, which the buildings might be built over, not in place of. Also, recent community opposition has for now slowed plans to break ground. We suspect though that one or both of these will be under construction before the end of next year. Read More at 25mc Blog

12. The Metropolitan
Say good-bye to Pep Boys and hello to the second tallest tower in New Jersey. The Metropolitan is a glassy bit of architectural sculpture that will bring 800 or so residential units to the Metro Plaza shopping center. Its the first phase of many that will eventually replace the strip mall containing BJ's warehouse and Shoprite and Bed Bath and Beyond with more towers. The Metropolitan also catches the eye because it will fall just short of passing the Goldman Sachs tower as the tallest in the state-- we have to wonder if the final height will actually be taller. But in either case, everything seems to be a green light for construction in begin in the spring.

13. & 14. San Remo & Monaco
Urban infill along Washington Blvd, renderings for these buildings include three towers. The southern tower will be a single structure about the height of the existing Marbella Tower. The other will be a taller set of dual towers on the north end of the lot. Between the buildings, the existing Double Tree Hotel. These three buildings have been announced, though are yet to receive the final go ahead. Its possible that ground will be broken this year, though we aren't holding our breath, especially since the Aqua and the Ellipse are almost certainly breaking ground first.

15. Harborside 4
The first half of this building-- mostly a parking garage-- has already been completed. The tower though that is intended to sit along Columbus Drive may or may not be going up anytime soon. The commercial office space market has seen better days, and that was before the millions of square feet of new space was announced at ground zero. We'll say this one could happen, but we aren't holding our breath.

16. Second Street
Located on the very tip of Second Street and surrounded by the Hudson River on two sides, this small lot next to the Mandalay tower is set to take off. Financing was secured a few weeks back and the approvals were received this summer. Its likely this project will be break ground as early as the Spring.

17. Manischewitz Site
The last of the matzo has been made and the factory is closing up shop. The Toll Brothers own the development rights, and there has been some debate on JCList as to whether the site is zoned for 10 stories or more than 20. The site is also half in and half out of the PAD, not that the PAD really has any standing any more anyway. Toll Brothers might very well find a way to break ground on the building before the year's end, especially considering how expensive the property was.

18. Van Leer Chocolate Factory
A large scale redevelopment of the former factory site should get started this year. There are two phases to the project that will bring 900 units to the area. Recent utility work along Hoboken Avenue and frequent spotting of surveyors might indicate work is about to begin. Or maybe not.

20. Belfuse
A mid-rise tower on the northwest border of Paulus hook, replacing the old Belfuse industrial plant. Read more at

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Liberty Harbor Hotel?

Rumors on the Wired New York forums point to renderings of a hotel project slated for Liberty Harbor North.

According to the the architect's website, the client is Tramz Hotel, a hotel management company.

Anyway, some stats supplied by the architectural firm:

300 Room Hilton Hotel with Street-Level Shops
21-Story Luxury Condominium Tower with Duplex Penthouses
8-Story Liner Block-Front Condominium Building
Eight 4-Story Townhouses


Recap of Year End Recaps

Making the moves has a rather interesting bit about sales figures in Hoboken. Judy has taken the time to break down the number units sold for various sized properties, the sort of Geeky stats we get hot and bothered over.

Meanwhile, Hoboken411 has tabulated the number of businesses coming (58) and going (31).

The Jersey Journal is reporting there were fewer people killed this year in Jersey City. No doubt this is yet another sign the housing bubble has popped.

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