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Friday, March 30, 2007

Retaurant Row Finally Getting Restaurants

Newark Avenue's restaurant row has long been missing a critical component: the restaurants. Almost two years ago, ordinances were changed to allow restaurants operating on Newark Avenue to serve alcohol much later in the evening with the hope that the change would spur new restaurants to arrive.

While Grove Street at the eastern end of Newark Avenue has a number of restaurants, dinning along Newark Avenue was mostly confined to take-away establishments. Things began changing when last year, local casual dinning chain Its Greek to Me opened a lcation on the corner of Newark and Jersey Avenues. And last summer brought a proliferation of outdoor seating along Grove Street; now every restaurant between the Hard Grove at Columbus Drive heading south to the Majestic lounge at Montgomery Street has sidewalk tables.

Newark Avenue might finally be hitting a turning point though as this spring will bring at least two new restaurant openings. Skinner's Loft, a bar and restaurant is opening a few doors down from the LITM lounge. Skinner's is rumored to be from the former owner of neighborhood bar Hamilton Park Ale House. Meanwhile, Newark Avenue will also have Thai cuisine from a new restaurant, Sawadee. With Newark Avenue finally growing into its designation as a restaurant row, its also facing a critical juncture: world class dinning competitive with Manhattan, or a new fraternity row competitive only with Hoboken. Only time will tell.

BELOW: Skinners Loft is a new restaurant and bar coming to Newark Avenue

Skinner's Loft on Newark Avenue in Jersey City will soon open on Restaurant Row

BELOW: Sawadee Thai Cuisine will soon be coming to Newark Avenue
Sawadee will bring a Thai cuisine to Newark Avenue in Jersey City

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Bits & Briefs

La Rustique Bakeria gives La Rustique in Jersey City a glowing review.

PATH Train derails in New Jersey
Twice in one week? Sounds like the Port Authority has a track problem.

Phony bloggers who do not excite.
Tris McCall calls out shitty marketing website for being a shitty marketing website.

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11 Story Building Planned For York and Warren

Looking over the Historic Preservation Commission Agenda, it seems the current parking lot on York Street between Warren and Washington Street may soon have an 11 Story, 50 residential unit building rising on it. The lot at present, across from The Gotham, has a single building, circa 1953, which needs to first be razed. Included in the project would be 25 parking spaces and ground floor retail.


Wrecking Ball May Eventually Hit Montgomery Gardens

The Journal is reporting that Montgomery Gardens, the 1960's style project housing just east of the Beacon may have numbered days as federal housing budgets shrink and the city struggles to maintain living standards in the older structures.

Demolishing the projects along Montgomery Street would go along way in integrating the booming downtown neighborhoods with the less affluent western sections of the city. For many downtown residents, Jersey City ends at the Turnpike overpass, and the projects present one of many obstacles between the wealth belt of the waterfront and the older neighborhoods to the west.

Further, by replacing 1960's era projects with more modern affordable housing, a real opportunity is presented in that modern ideas of an integrated community can be established. When project housing first was conceived of-- the earliest being those outside of Chicago modeled on a plan similar Le Corbusier's vision for Paris-- little thought was given to transportation, shopping, and employment. As a result, many projects, not just in Jersey City, but across the country, fail to address the basic needs of residents. Getting a cup of coffee or a newspaper becomes a full morning activity, shopping for groceries an afternoon expedition, and finding nearby employment an insurmountable challenge.

Meanwhile, modern ideas on low income housing usually include better integration into the community as a whole. Instead of creating sinkholes of poverty, residents with the greatest needs share the same services-- safe streets, public transportation access, police protection, access to parks and recreation-- with more affluent neighborhoods, ensuring an equal distribution of resources.

No doubt the land underneath the Montgomery Gardens projects is growing in value everyday. That land value could very well be leveraged by the city to find a private investor willing to provide modern, community based public housing units in exchange for right to develop part of the property for private use. The residents of housing projects would benefit by receiving newer, more modern housing. The city would benefit from an ever improving urban community, and the investors would have the opportunity to profit.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Bits & Briefs

Littered park to be pretty 'plaza'
The Grove Street PATH plaza has a name, and has nothing to do with Grove or Pointe.

A park extending onto roofs up for discussion in Hoboken
12 story high development approved for Hoboken with the caveat of public roof decks, or something crazy like that.

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Hamilton Park Renovation Meeting

With Hamilton Park's long overdue renovation finally becoming a reality, final decisions about layout and design are becoming increasingly contentious. YouTuber lifefood has posted videos of the most recent meeting (and other important civic meetings). Take a look if you missed the in person event, and even if you didn't, watch the crowd give a smack down to Janet Allen who seems to think a park best serves the people with pretty flowers rather than active recreation. Ball playing still prohibited.

Part 2


Monday, March 26, 2007

Hamilton Park Plans

Hamilton Park has been waiting for a renovation for almost three decades. After a round of surveys conducted last year to identify the community's desired amenities, three plans have been presented for the new layout of park. Ever watchful Councilman Steven Fulop has the three possible plans available on his website. The three designs will be voted on by the community before being submitted for Council approval, tentatively scheduled for April 21. Ball playing is still prohibited.


Bits & Briefs

Yellow Cabs Turning Green
At this year's New York International Automobile Show, the iconic yellow cab will be getting a green makeover. Showcased at the event will be a number of potential variants for the next generation taxi with emphasis on alternative fuels.

Hamilton Park's makeover: More active or passive?
Hamilton Park will soon have a long overdue refurbishment. Engineering firm Schoor DePalma presented three possible alternatives. Ball playing still prohibited.

R2D2 Mailboxes
Hobhoke411 reports that first of the Star Wars themed mailboxes began popping up in Hoboken, with photo goodness.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Another Newport Masterplan

The northeast quadrant of the Newport redevelopment site has been planned, essentially since the onset of development in Newport. Earlier this week we mentioned the addition of the Herbert Hoover to the line up of dead presidents adorning Newport's shores. This came along with approvals for two other towers, for a total of five new buildings. In either case, we were digging around the internet today and came across another masterplan for Newport, from the architectural firm Gruzen Samton. The renderings. are not much different from LeFrak's publicly posted plans [PDF], but it may shed some light on a few more details of the area marked as "future" projects.


The Decemberists Invade Journal Square

For those of you who follow that sort of thing, The Decemberists made two appearances in Jersey City this week at the Loews Theater. Just in case you couldn't get your hands on tickets, or didn't feel like forking over thirty bucks, and were too lazy to search the internet, we collected here a few write ups from folks who made there way to the show:

Synner Nation
Broolyn Vegan
Music Snobbery


Bits & Briefs

Hoboken park funded
The Journal reports that Hoboken received the last $200,000 of the needed $7.1 Million to build a park at 1600 Park Avenue

Panty Bandits Raid Jersey City Mall
Sorority houses across the state are on the lookout after a Panty Raid at the Newport Mall.

Lorillard-- Not Quite History - But Going!
Blogger Uncle Tonoose has a few photos of 111 First Coming Down.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Uncivil Servants

The New York Times has pointed us to a new community website, Uncivil Servants that posts photos of illegally parked cars. The vehicles in question usually are taking advantage of city issued parking permits that are ostensibly issued for specific civic duties, but which appear to be used as one of those "benefits" doled out to government officials.

While Uncivil Servants is concentrating on New York and its official boroughs, the problem exists on our side of the river too. A JCLister has posted a few pictures of a police officer stationed in the BJ's parking lot prepared to write citations for folks making an illegal right hand turn, but turning a blind eye to the construction crew vehicles parked the wrong way on the one way street. Meanwhile, Hoboken411 captured similar incidents of official vehicles illegally parking on street corners. Oh, and let's not forget the Port Authority vehicles parking on the sidewalks along Jersey Avenue between 12th and 14th Streets-- forcing pedestrians to navigate between the curb and fast moving cars and trucks.

Its probably time that civil servants began respecting the laws they expect everyone else to follow. Until then though, there is always the internet to shame them.

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Bits & Briefs

Selective Crossing Guards
Hoboken411 ponders the usefulness of crossing guards who only assist children.

Growth, More Jobs
The downtown development has increased the need for steel piping, and local piping company Ideal Supply is expanding its Jersey City presence to meet demand. Too bad all those new blue collar employees can't afford to live downtown.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Herbert Hoover To Join Dead Presidents In Newport

Jersey City's Newport neighborhood is about to get another dead President joining the line up of river side towers. The Herbert Hoover, a 29 story building on 14th street was approved last Tuesday, reports the Jersey City Reporter (with renderings). Also approved was The Savoy, a 17 story tower at 45 14th Street.


Robot Wars

The Journal is reporting more delays for the automatic parking garage in Hoboken, out of service for months while the parking authority figured out how to keep the garage from hunting Sarah O'Conner.

The automated parking garage, the state's first, has been plagued with problems, in part because of a dispute about software licensing fees. Automated garages are common throughout Europe largely because they are 20 to 30 percent more efficient than garages with ramps.

Several recent building proposals in New York have included automated parking garages, and with each announcement Hoboken has been cited for how not to run an automated garage.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Bits & Briefs

Bridging Gaps Through Art
A new art gallery is set to open in Hoboken on the 24th of March with the hope of bringing "conversational art back to Hoboken." galerĂ­a GOBA, 320 Washington Street, Hoboken.

Movers: $15 Guys vs. $19 Guys
Hoboken411 has the story of couple who responded to one of those fliers hanging all over Jersey City and Hoboken. And since you are reading about it here, you can guess it was a scam.

For Further Reading
Tris McCall responds to his own previous post that dared ask where are all the Jersey City blogs? He points us to a few, though not that they are updated frequently. Which is a lot like JerseyCitoyen, a blog we came across a few months back and have been waiting for its owner to write something fresh. Indeed, fellow bloggers, send us your links.

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Toll Brothers Gets Grant to Cover Park Obligations

The Toll Brothers's waterfront property Maxwell Place will expand the river walk along the Hudson River, as required by law. The Journal is reoprting though that the company received a $6 million federal grant to help cover expenses Toll was originally to pay. Meanwhile, the 5 to 6 acre park is included in the Maxwell Place marketing campaign.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Pedicabs New Hot Thing

Just as New York City is getting ready to regulate the foot powered tourist traps, the Hoboken City Council is getting ready to consider whether pedicab operators need anything other than a business license.

The Journal reports that existing taxi regulations don't cover pedicabs, meaning operators won't need a $250,000 medallion.

Obviously the gas powered cab drivers are none too pleased the prospect of splitting fares with foot driven brethren. Environmentalists should be pleased though, as the only fumes coming from pedicabs will be the rank odor of sweat any bicyclist produces on a hot day.


Newport Buildings

Last week we mentioned two new Newport buildings planned for 14th Street from last night's planning board agenda. But we realized that there is in fact a third Newport building planned for that same stretch of road. Looking back at the February 27th Agenda (PDF), we noticed a 7 story building planned for 2 Shore Lane, a new little street just north of the Shore Club. We double checked the Newport Masterplan (PDF} and found in fact that there are three "future" buildings running east along the 14th Street Extension.

With the Aqua presently under construction just east of the Shore Club, and the Ellipse planned for the pier just east of 14th Street, it seems the northern end of Newport is quickly being realized with a total of 5 new buildings.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Jersey City Rocks In 8.0

Curbed has a bit today about the Rocking / Suckage of New York's five boroughs. We couldn't really call ourselves New York's Sixth if we didn't throw Jersey City in the mix. With little surprise, we've pummeled Staten Island.

This data comes from a site called sucks / rocks that uses complicated math formulas to compare search engine keywords to the object. Or something like that.

Sucks / Rocks Via Curbed


Is This the Last 'Last Matzo' Story?

Ever since Manischewitz folks announced they were planning on closing up shop, the local papers have been all aflutter with "last Matzo" stories including today's in the Star Ledger. Is it really the last story about the last Matzo?

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Hamilton Square Renderings, Offerings

The 300 residential units at the old Saint Francis hospital will soon be a reality. We've been watching the progress for a while now. is reporting that the first 126 units will be delivered by the end of the year, and will be offered up in April.

Meanwhile the architectural firm has a few more renderings on their site. [Flash site, select ".02 Projects" => Projects in Development "St. Francis Hospital"]. And of course, the development website, has been updated, with a few more renderings. [Flash site, select "Hamilton Square" => "Renderings" on the left side]


Second Cosi Location Coming to Exchange Place

One Exchange Place will soon be home to Jersey City's second Cosi, reports The Cosi location will be essentially across the street from competitor Au Bon Pain. Both chains feature deli-style dining with a selection of gourmet panini sandwiches, salads, and pastries. Cosi is prolific throughout Manhattan though rare in New Jersey.

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Harwood Towers Seeks Same Deal as Beacon

Developers of the mammoth project planned for the Journal Square area is seeking a 30 year tax abatement, ten years longer than most abatements in the downtown, but on par with abatements already granted to the Beacon, reports the Jersey Journal.

Harwood Towers has plenty to offer the city. The city's efforts to revitalize the Journal Square area have been decades long, and while the waterfront and downtown neighborhoods have certainly seen tremendous growth and redevelopment, western neighborhoods have been slower to follow suit. Past proposals for the square have not worked out, and even the current Harwood Towers still needs to finalize eminent domain seizures.

While its perhaps time to start reconsidering tax abatements in the gentrified areas of Newport where momentum will be enough for continued development for years to come, the success and failure of Journal Square revitalization efforts essentially reside with the success and failure of the Harwood Towers project. Already the mere prospect of the towers has brought proposed construction projects to the table, and once the towers are complete, further redevelopment is inevitable.


Friday, March 09, 2007

No Soup For You!

A plan to publish a cookbook featuring recipes from Jersey City restaurants as part of an Urban Enterprise Zone endeavor to promote local businesses has been put on the back burner. The City council tabled the proposed grant for now. A new proposal to spend the UEZ monies will probably have more bread and butter items.

Via The Jersey Journal


Thursday, March 08, 2007

Building Proposals

The March 13 Planning Board Meeting agenda (PDF) went online and has revealed plans for a few new (and older) projects.

First on the list is the long awaited Harborside Plaza 4. Harborside 4A, went up in 2000 as essentially a giant parking garage in anticipation of Harborside 4. But with the saturation of new office space over the last few years, the project was put on hold for a bit. More recently though, vacancy rates have dropped, which is probably why Harborside 4 is back on the table. Emporis has an older rendering of building.

From the Planning Board Agenda:

"Address: Hudson Street & Columbus Drive
Block: 10 Lot: 20
Zone: Exchange Place North Redevelopment Plan
Description: Plaza 4, Harborside Financial Center, 1,067,000sf office tower with 600 parking spaces and ground floor retail."

Next up are two more proposals from the Lefrak Organization on the northward expansion of Newport. Lefrak sought an extension a few months back of a 2003 approval for 45 14th Street. The address in online mapping services puts both 45 and the new proposal, 75 14th St, west of Washington Blvd, in the Target parking lot. However, its more likely that the mapping services are confused by two addresses that don't exist. More likely is that these two proposals are planned for lots east of Washington. One of these is probably the Wilson, part of the Presidential towers complex. This theory matches the Newport Masterplan (PDF).

From the Planning Board Agenda:
"Applicant: Newport Associates Development Company
Address: 75 Fourteenth Street
Block: 20 Lot: 3.10
Zone: Newport Redevelopment Plan
Description: New mixed-use building with 341 dwelling units and 16,261sf of retail space. 29 stories tall atop a 1-story retail base.

Applicant: Newport Associates Development Company
Address: 45 Fourteenth Street
Block: 20 Lot: 3.15, 3.16
Zone: Newport Redevelopment Plan
Description: New 17-story mixed-use multi-family building with 146 residential units and 5,833sf of ground floor retail."

Finally, it seems that the Millennium Towers proposal has resurfaced. This was a tower complex planned for 18th Street to built over the light rail line with the addition of a new station. The Millennium Towers renderings had existed for a number of years, but seemed like the project was going nowhere. Also, its seems there is an explanation for the recent razing of buildings on 16th Street between Coles and Jersey. The Millennium Towers it seems will be using the space as a parking lot-- presumably only for the duration of construction.

From the Planning Board Agenda:

"Case: P07-009 Preliminary Major Site Plan Interim Parking Lot
Applicant: Millenium Towers, LLC
Address: 677 Grove Street
Block: 294.5 Lot: PL-A
Zone: Jersey Avenue Redevelopment Plan
Description: 436 space parking lot

Case: P07-006 Preliminary Major Site Plan Interim Parking Lot
Applicant: Millenium Towers, LLC
Address: 803 Jersey Avenue
Block: 328 Lot: 1-6, 9-12, 29-32, PL-A
Zone: Jersey Avenue Redevelopment Plan
Description: 289 space parking lot"

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Municipal Employees (probably) Rejoice as Site Reconnected

The journal is reporting that by order of Mayor Roberts himself, popular community site Hoboken411 is again accessible by city computers, which means city employees can once again go back to "spending taxpayer time" reading the site.


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Bits & Briefs

Jersey Avenue (extended version)
Tris McCall tackles the Jersey Avenue Connector issue.

The Hudson School art exhibit
Judy Marciano points us to The Hudson School of Hoboken presentation of student art.

No Flash of Badge
Hoboken Councilman Chris Campos laments that the city failed to ratify a police contract in two years.

Coming to Jersey City: '600-foot-tall piece of art'
Just in case you hadn't had enough Koolhaas, another photo of the model.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

North End of Hoboken Getting 12 Story Tower

Hoboken approved a twelve story tower for properties on the north end of Hoboken, including the Park on Park garage. The building will include space for a charter school, retail space and 180 condos.

Via Hoboken Reporter


Star-chitects Flock To Jersey City

Rem Koolhaas apparently isn't the only celebrity architect with buildings that will soon grace the Jersey City Skyline. According to the an AP story on, world renowned architect I.M. Pei has designed a building for Goldman Sachs. The new tower has been approved but won't be built until the current Goldman building is filled.


Jersey Avenue Connector Raises Ire of Local Residents

The city has proposed an extension of Jersey Avenue, connecting the street to Philip Road in Liberty State park over the Morris Canal. Currently, the street terminates at the canal near the Liberty Harbor North Development.

Proponents of the plan cite the need for better vehicle access to the downtown, while community activists refuse to allow more vehicles into their local neighborhoods. Part of the problem stems from the fact that at present, many vehicles cut through the less affluent Bergen-Lafayette neighborhood and circumvent the gentrified Van Vorst Park area.

Other suggestions for alleviating traffic congestion have included flyover ramps for Merseles Street and Center Street eliminating the traffic signal at Montgomery Street and shift more traffic down Christopher Columbus Drive. This is of course in addition to the traffic that already has been shunted onto Columbus Drive after the realignment of the Turnpike ramp two years ago.

According to the Jersey Journal, city officials will reveal plans on April 26th, at which time they ignore public input and do as they damn well please.

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

New York Times On Koolhaas Tower

As the demolition of 111 First Street continues, the Rem Koolhaas proposal continues to make waves. The most recent main stream media coverage of the tower is the New York Times, giving Koolhaas a reach around.

And of course the various message forums serving Jersey City have been lit up lately with talk of the tower. Many critiques have declared the structure to be an impossibility. The New York Times explains this:

"A reinforced concrete tube running through its core will anchor the building. Cantilevered concrete beams will support the two upper blocks, whose end sections splay out over the street."

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Bottom's Up

Dust off off your shamrocks, today is Hoboken's version of St. Patrick's day. Don't get yourself arrested.


Friday, March 02, 2007

China, Cuba, Hoboken Censor Websites

At the risk of finding ourselves on the wrong side of Hoboken municipal digital firewall, we're going to point to a bit about City Hall's banning of local blog Hoboken411. of course we can't be too surprised given the 411's coverage of redevelopment zones, pay-to-play reform, and drunken council members. We would make some wry remark here, but there's nothing funny about censorship.


Thursday, March 01, 2007

More Ugly

111 First Street may not be the ugliest building to grace the Jersey City skyline. Gridskipper went and asked a bunch of experts what they thought were the ugliest buildings in Manhattan. Joey Arak, writer for Curbed points to the Zebra Building saying "You come up from the tunnel, thrilled to be out of Jersey, and you're greeted by that monstrosity."

What does this have to do with Jersey City you ask? Well one of the newest editions to the Jersey City Skyline is Columbus Tower, a younger sibling of the Zebra building.

We tend to think we got the better version of the building.

Via Curbed

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111 First St. Tower Announced, Architect Denounced

If you haven't yet seen the renderings of the Koolhaas vision of Jersey City, the Wired Forums have them posted. A picture really is worth a thousand words, especially when those pictures depict three rectangles stacked precariously into a 52 story tower.

While 52 stories isn't particularly tall compared to world standards, or even when compared to other towers across Jersey City's skyline, the story was big enough for Curbed to mention it and even for Hoboken411 to look across their southern border. That makes sense after all, since its the folks in Manhattan and Hoboken who will have to look at this building in profile.

Now whether you love it or hate it, there is of course something to be said about having a world famous architect building structures in your backyard. On one hand, its easy to see how this tower is Jersey City's Guggenheim Museum, yet on the other side of things, it could clearly be another Miss Brooklyn.

But enough about the tower. After all, when it comes to development in Jersey City, its always personal. Which is why we were intrigued when Tris McCall posed the question, Is Rem Koolhaas an asshole?. Yes, apparently he is, least of all because he's proposed stacking three soviet style block houses on top of each other, and mostly because he has the audacity to call it art.

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