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Friday, November 30, 2007

Newark Avenue Fire: The Morning After

Not much is left of 143 Newark Avenue as the fire department worked through the night to flatten the unsafe building. We have pictures of what's left posted here.

Flickr user nosenhodge has more photos of the fire, some from the Columbus Drive side of things; larawaystone has more demolition photos from last night; seanaes also has some impressive photos.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Newark Avenue Burns

Hudson Now reports of a 4 alarm fire on Newark Avenue burning the building at 141 Newark Avenue and two adjacent buildings. Below, the store front of 141 Newark Avenue:

Area residents have posted pictures of the fire on Flickr:

Hudson Now is reporting two of the buildings are to be razed by the fire department and traffic on Newark Avenue and westbound lanes of Columbus Drive will be closed for as much as 24 hours.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Newark Ave Prepped for Facelift, Botox

The revitalization of Newark Avenue's downtown business district has been the holy grail of downtown redevelopment. Even long time residents critical of new construction lament the lack of better retail options in the historic business district. The long discussed "restaurant row" zoning was heralded as a major step, and while three new restaurants opened since June of this year, the street still wants for major improvements.

Below: OX is the most recent addition to Newark Avenue's restaurant scene.

However, the tide may finally be turning. "Space for Rent" and going out of businesses signs have recently appeared on numerous storefronts. Normally such signs would suggest a declining business district. However, in this case, its the discount and 99 cent stores that are closing, likely making way for higher paying tenants.

Below: Blue Jeans, a discount clothing store, announces a going out of business sale a former 99 Cent store is now just a super store, with a for rent sign in the window; another store front has been vacated and renovated awaiting a tenant.

So far, the only national retail chains on Newark Avenue are an ever increasing number of banks. Independent specialty boutiques have been sprouting around Grove Street for a number of years; the same sort of stores that made a name for Williamsburg and Park Slope. Newport Mall has long been criticized for robbing the historic businesses districts of customers-- hindering redevelopment rather than helping the revitalization of the city. But Newport as a repository for national chains has allowed the independent retailers the opportunity to flourish.

Anecdotal evidence would suggest the high-rise yuppies and downtown hipster set are bypassing Newport Mall; anchor stores JCPenny, Sears and Kohls would also support this. A healthy shopping district ideally would attract customers beyond local residents; a street lined with independently owned stores would become a destination in and of itself. However, generic national chains would do little to attract outside customers since identical products are offered in the same stores from here to Oshkosh Wisconsin, and beyond.

In September, GlobeSt reported that rents along Newark Avenue have risen steadily, averaging $7,000 for a storefront. The high price will likely drive out the many discount stores currently lining the south side of the street, but could pose a significant obstacle to new businesses as well.

New residential projects in western sections of Newark Avenue promise to add more foot traffic along Newark Avenue's shops as pedestrians head for the PATH at Grove Street. Treetop Development's 213 Newark Avenue will add more retail space and 76 residences just west of Jersey Avenue probably by 2009. Further west on Newark is five story project 272 Newark Avenue and there are two twelve story buildings approved at 380 and 361 Newark Avenue. Additional projects are adding dozens more housing units just off Newark Avenue, like the 54 unit project Crescent Court. This influx of new residents along Newark Avenue is at least 18 months away, but the promise of new customers may prove attractive to businesses looking to get in early.


Newport Skating Rink To Open, Be Slippery

The Journal reports Newport's skating rink is set to open on Wednesday following the lighting of the Newport Christmas Tree. Beginning at 6:30, skating will be free for two hours. After tomorrow though, skates and rink time will cost $5 weeknights and $6 on weekends. By contrast, skating at Bryant Park (42nd St and 5th Avenue), in Manhattan, is free (bring your own lock for the lockers).

The skating rink sits directly in front of Newport's newest condominium tower, The Shore Club and is intended to draw in customers from outside of Newport to the River Market. The River Market is a branding term for the collection of retail stores in the base of the Shore building and Aqua, a 31 story tower directly east of Shore Club will also eventually have retail.


Monday, November 26, 2007

New Embankment Plan Promises Compromise, 1,000 Units

Long a rallying cry for preservationists in the downtown, the Sixth Street Embankment has been the focus of a legal fight since developer Steve Hyman set his eye on the site. Advocates looking to save historic Jersey City have been fighting to preserve the structure and convert it to a park; others want the structure removed, and the land converted to open space, and then of course Hyman wants to build residential apartments on the property, and lets not forget Mayor Healy's plan to restore rail service-- adding a light rail line from Newport to Secaucus.

Complicating the issue is the land's status as former railroad right away. The federal government regulates railroads and right aways cannot simply be sold. A recent federal ruling declared the original sale to Hyman invalid, but that does not entirely prevent a future sale. Preservation activists want the city to buy the land or seize it through eminent domain. Either method would incur huge expenses for the city.

Mayor Healy last year announced his intentions to pursue a plan to build a light rail connection from the waterfront to the Secaucus transfer station. The line would improve transportation alternatives for many parts of Jersey City. Parts of Hamilton Park and western portions of the downtown are more than a half mile from a train station and Healy's proposed route through the arches could also allow access to residents along 139. The line would also provide another alternative route between NJ Transit trains and the Hudson waterfront; now commuter rail connects via the PATH at Newark Penn or heavy rail to Hoboken. NJTransit's stance is that they have no plans to build this spur.

Original plans by the developer sought to remove the embankment entirely and build low rise town homes along the entire length of the embankment from Marin Blvd to Brunswick. Immediately this plan faced opposition with critics citing density, lack of preservation, and general outrage at proposed changes. Activists sought to landmark the embankment, and the follow up plan included simply building the town homes on top of the wall.

Now the Jersey Journal is reporting a new plan being put forth by Hyman as a compromise. In essence, the new plan leverages activists' desire for preserving the embankment for higher density zoning. The new plan calls for a total of five buildings with 1,100 units of housing. Four of the buildings would be erected atop the embankment and a fifth on the block west of Brunswick Street. Yet three quarters of the embankment would end up as open space, and for Healy, Hyman including plans to connect a light rail line to Journal Square.

Local activists have already declared the new plan unacceptable, which means in all likelihood, the only definite is plenty more litigation.

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Bits & Briefs

MSTI Holdings (NuVisions) Enhances Customer Experience at Newport
Newport communications infrastructure improved.

Aqua Photos
Blogger Jersey City Construction beats the Newport rent-a-cops and snaps photos of the now 31 story Aqua and the new skating rink.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Hoboken Traffic Cameras May Violate Laws Blog Hoboken Now is reporting the recently approved traffic light cameras for Hoboken's Washington Street intersections may run afoul of state laws. The red light cameras cost the city $75K and while safety is the concern, Hoboken law makers perhaps should have done some research: after installation of red light cameras in Lubbock, Texas, occurrences of accidents increased. So much for public safety.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Hibachi Confirmed for Gulls Cove reports that Sawa Hibachi has signed a lease for Gulls Cove, a Metrohomes tower under construction in the Liberty Harbor North redevelopment area of Jersey City. The building sits across the street from the Marin Blvd. Light Rail Station and is five blocks from the Grove Street PATH station.

Via JCList.

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Jersey City Market Avoids Meltdown

As housing markets across the country squirm, reeling from a credit crunch and overall slowing in demand for new homes, Jersey City continues forward with little impact.

Toll Brothers recently rated its Hoboken and Jersey City / City Living Division a B+, reports Alley Insider, and by contrast, the rest of the state gets a big fat D.

The Real Deal reports that so far there have only been a few foreclosures in Jersey City. But with thousands of units on the drawing board, The Real Deal also warns that while Jersey City's strength comes from its close associations with Manhattan, it could also spell doom for the local market since many buyers on the western banks of the Hudson are those who can't afford Manhattan-- and thus more likely to be at risk in an economic slow down.

So far though, credit and recession fears don't seem to be slowing the pace of construction at Jersey City's largest developments.


Globe St. Confuses "Breaking Ground" with "Almost Finished"

Last week, reported work was set to begin on the Schroeder Lofts, a six story, 58 unit building on Tenth and Erie. Schroeder Lofts however is nearly complete. Only the retail space on the eastern corner of the building is yet to be finished; this space is to be The Embankment bar and lounge, as we reported in October. Congratulations to on their excellent reporting.


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New York's Sixth is a blog for the forgotten, de facto borough across the river featuring original content, commentary, and information relevant to living in Downtown Jersey City / Hoboken.


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