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Thursday, January 31, 2008

AXA Equitable Life Insurance Coming To Newport

New York based AXA insurance signed a 15 year lease for nearly 250,000 square feet of space in Newport Tower, reports CoStar Group. The lease begins next year.

Newport Tower is the center piece of Lefrak's office towers in Newport, standing 36 stories and completed in 1991.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

35 Story Rental Tower Approved for 110 First

Wired Forum member KLJC has an excellent write up concerning the approved 110 First Street. The site of a former warehouse was restricted in total height, units, and floor area in a settlement agreement between the city and New Gold Equities, the developer responsible for demolishing buildings at 110 and 111 First Street.

The development is the first to go before the board seeking amendments in the Powerhouse District since the city approved the Toll Brother's towers for the area. Though the city approved the project, there were limits. The height and floor areas are to remain, though the total number of units has been increased, meaning many smaller units. The total height of the building will be 35 stories, two higher than the neighboring Athena tower.

The tower will contain a restaurant and gallery spaces, but will also have an unfortunate 9 story parking deck.

Earlier reports of preparation work on the site were actually test pilings. However, the eagerness displayed at the planning board meeting would seem to indicate the developer is looking to move full steam ahead on the project.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

110 First Street Seeking Approvals

Rumors have been circulating on the internet that the vacant lot at 110 First Street, just west of the recently completed Athena 'A' Tower, was being prepped for construction. It seems the development is going before the planning board (PDF) seeking 452 units, 343 parkings spaces, and nearly 14,000 square feet of retail.

In July 2004, a historically designated warehouse was demolished under the auspices of safety, foretelling the fate of its somewhat more famous neighbor, 111 First Street. Both buildings were owned by Lloyd Goldman, a real estate developer.

Below, the site of 110 First street is in the background; the foreground, a park is under construction.


Monday, January 28, 2008

Traffic Accidents Pile Up On Erie Street

Sunday morning began as a typical day in the neighborhood-- screeching rubber, scraping metal, and the clatter of a car jumping the curb. Serious traffic accidents have become all too typical along Erie Street with Sunday's wreck only the latest on this quiet residential street in Harsimus Cove.

At the corner of Second and Erie Streets, two vehicles collided sending one over the curb and into the fence of Grace Van Vorst Church. Early last summer, at the very same spot, a small vehicle was spun completely around. Then there was the accident this past autumn at Third and Erie with one car jettisoned into the wall of a house. Below, the dented wall and the smashed fence on the northwest corner of Third and Erie.

In the past year, we've personally observed four serious accidents at these two intersections alone, and its not as though we are hanging around Erie Street waiting for cars to jump curbs. The commonality between all the accidents has been a car heading north on Erie, usually speeding, colliding with a car at the cross streets.

Certainly speeding drivers are largely responsible. But also at fault are cars parked to the very corner of the streets, preventing drivers on both streets from seeing on coming cars until its too late. The curbs at these intersections were at one time painted red-- probably shortly after the city was founded four hundred years ago, and then forgotten about. Many of the curbs around the street corners have been replaced, and never repainted; for the rest, the paint is so faded its almost as though they were never painted at all.

In the short term, the city needs to repaint no parking zones on street corners. This clearly is a safety issue, not only for drivers, but for pedestrians as well. Imagine for instance, a pedestrian caught underneath a car-- below, the remains of the iron fence:

But repainting curb corners does not provide a long term solution. One alternative would be installation of speed bumps on Erie Street. However, speed humps spaced too far apart won't inhibit speeding, and spaced too close together would greatly impede traffic flow. An alternative solution is construction of bulb-outs, also known as curb extensions. Curb extensions literally extend the curb and sidewalk at street corners. This is a multifaceted approach. First, cars are unable to park too closely to the corner because street space becomes an elevated sidewalk. Second, drivers perceive the street as more narrow, naturally causing them to slow down. A third benefit is shortening the distance between curbs for pedestrians, though this benefit is best realized at larger avenues. Bulb outs are not unprecedented in Jersey City. Below, a small bulb out in Paulus Hook, on Morris Street.

Regardless of the final solution, something needs to be done. Only coincidence has kept pedestrians out from under careening cars to date; eventually the city will be scraping bodies off the sidewalk.


Friday, January 25, 2008

Restaurant Week Arrives

Actually, restaurant TWO weeks. But who's counting. Check it out: Hudson Restaurant


Journal Confirms Long Rumored Duane Reade

Duane Reade, the New York pharmacy synonymous with Manhattan street corners, has been confirmed as a tenant of Grove Pointe by Hudson Now, a Jersey Journal Blog.

The rumor that Duane Reade was coming to Grove Pointe has been circulating since at least last January. Hudson Now cites a real estate broker as a source of the coming 8,000 square foot store. An anonymous poster on internet board Kannekt claimed a doorman at the Grove Pointe complex confirmed the arrival weeks ago, and that the pharmacy would occupy the retail space immediately west of 102 Columbus, the Condominium entrance of the tower.


Credit Crisis, Council Stalls Monaco Towers

Monaco Towers, a major residential tower on Washington Blvd and Sixth Street, kinda, sorta broke ground last June. After a few pilings found their way into the ground, construction stopped-- and the credit market had a melt down. The towers, originally planned as a condominium project has since become a rental project.

Hudson Now reported the developer, Roseland Properties, needed an amended abatement program to secure financing for the project. The original program called for a 20 year abatement at 16 percent, but Roseland now wants 15 years at 12 percent. The Journal reports that the council denied the amended changes.

The project could have broken ground, again, as early as this spring. However, without the changes to the abatements, the developer may not be able to entice investors particularly as the economy enters a recession, real estate prices slump, and other projects received the abatements at 12 percent. The 330 unit project designed by SLCE Architects may now be stalled indefinitely. Renderings of the towers, and sister project The San Remo, are available at the Wired Forums.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Waldo Lofts Nearly Sold Out... Just In Time

Field's Development has sent out a press release claiming their Waldo Lofts condominium project is 90% sold out. Good news for the developer, considering the city just approved multiple high rises one block from the twelve story tower. The Waldo Lofts sought architectural inspiration from the nearby Powerhouse and conformed to the previous arts district zoning, but the city's recent decision to allow Toll Brothers to build 3 high rise towers -- one as high as 40 stories -- will likely mean that the shorter Waldo Lofts will soon be surrounded by very tall neighbors. The Harbor Lights project surrounds Waldo on three sides, and many speculate that project, yet to break ground, will seek to go higher following the Toll Brother's ruling.


NY Times Rides PATH Train In Alternate Universe

The New York Times took a ride on the PATH in an effort to document area commutes. However, in the New York Time's alternate universe, NJTransit Trains can bring suburban commuters right to Journal Square:

"Now, instead of taking New Jersey Transit’s crowded Northeast Corridor train from Edison and then transferring to the subway, Ms. Harrington takes a different New Jersey Transit train to the PATH station at Journal Square in Jersey City"

Next week, the Times plans on taking the G Train to Manhattan.


Monday, January 21, 2008

Starbucks Redux: Jersey Journal Wakes Up and Smells Coffee

Two weeks ago we mentioned the arrival of a new Starbucks at Grove Pointe. The Jersey Journal reminds us why print media is so last century, reporting today on Starbuck's arrival.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Planning Board Eviscerates Arts District

The long fight over the Toll Brother's planned towers for the former Powerhouse Arts District essentially came to an end at last night's planning board meeting with the board voting 8 to 0 in favor of approving Toll Brothers new vision reports the Jersey Journal. The plan includes building towers of 40, 35 and 30 stories in the former warehouse district and dwarfing several projects that conformed to the original Powerhouse Arts District Plan including the recently completed Waldo Lofts and Morgan Lighthouse.

In addition to opposing high rise towers in the neighborhood, preservationists wanted to preserve several historic warehouses in the district and an original cobblestone street. Toll will only preserve one facade of the old Manischewitz factory. The cobblestones will be removed for construction, and then returned to a new plaza. The new plaza, along with a 500 seat theater is a concession Toll Brothers made in an attempt to appease the city and local residents.

Provost Square will be a 25,000 square foot plaza bound by Morgan, Provost, and Bay streets. The Hudson, residential project that conformed to the original PAD plan broke ground on the site in December of 2006. Workers drove pilings for the small building before the Toll Brother's involvement.

Harbor Lights, another PAD project, was supposed to have broken ground in early 2007. However, when the Toll Brothers began fighting to amend the neighborhood zoning, the Harbor Lights ground breaking never happened, fueling speculation the developer was waiting to follow in Toll's footsteps. Now, Harbor Lights may seek height extensions as a result of the city ruling in favor of Toll. In addition, Morgan Pointe, a planned project for the corner of Steuben, Marin, and Morgan Streets might also have been waiting for the Toll Brothers ruling.

Many preservationists point to the controversy with 111 First Street as the turning point for the Powerhouse District. 111 First Street, 19th century warehouse was involved with a multi-year battle between a developer looking to build a tower on top of the site, and historians looking to preserve the warehouse. 111 First Street was demolished last year to make way for a 52 story tower designed by starchitect Rem Koolhaus. The announcement that Koolhaus was designing a tower in Jersey City made headlines literally around the globe, but also paved the way for Toll to seek zoning changes.

Last night's ruling will likely lead directly to another fight, this time over the Butler Brothers Warehouse, a 9 story building on the eastern end of the district. Once the tallest building in the PAD, the owner planned on building out penthouse units on the top floors. However, with the new ruling, Butler Brothers will likely be the valley surrounded by high rise towers. The city has indicated the Butler Brothers building, below, is one building they might be interested in preserving. However, considering the city's record with preservation efforts, it may not be long before this behemoth is also replaced with new towers.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Toll Brothers Powerhouse Arts District Plan Approved

Hudson Now is reporting that the Toll Brothers three tower plan was approved at this evenings meeting, recasting the Powerhouse Arts District as a high rise luxury community and allowing redevelopment to finally move forward. The tallest building will stand 40 stories. As a concession, Toll Brothers will build a 500 seat theater.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Grove Street Area Rental Towers Filling Up

Two new rental towers opened late last year around the Grove Street PATH station. 50 Columbus, a Costas Kondylis designed tower east of Marin and Grove Pointe, a condo / rental mixed tower between Grove and Marin. 50 Columbus is now 75% leased, claims this press release, meaning 300 of the 400 luxury apartments are accounted for. Over at Grove Pointe, rental agents are telling prospective leasers the rental tower will be filled before March.

The success of 50 Columbus likely means construction on additional towers on the western side of the lot will begin sooner, rather than later. 70 and 90 Columbus are a pair of 48 story towers to be built on the corner of Marin and Columbus, adding another 1,000 units to the complex.

The area around the Grove Street is ground zero for a new wave of planned construction. Across the street from 50 Columbus, two 23 story residential towers have been approved as part of the Metropolis Towers expansion. For now it seems these two towers are temporarily on hold in part due to the current credit crisis. Just north of 50 Columbus, the Toll Brothers are pushing to build three new high-rise towers, though these face community opposition and their fate is still uncertain.


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

2008 To Be "Year of the Coffee House"

Cosi is set to open a second store in Jersey City in 2008

For some, the arrival of a Starbucks on Grove Street means Jersey City has finally arrived. Or, Jersey City is officially over. Either way, another Starbucks is also set to open near exchange place. So is Cosi. And Van Houtte Cafe.

Cosi's arrival was announced last March, but only recently have signs gone up in the windows of the space it will occupy adjacent to the light rail station. The new Cosi location is directly across the street from an existing Au Bon Pain, which is only a block from the rumored location of Van Houtte Cafe.

Hudson Street is about to become saturated with coffee shops. In addition to the three that are about to open, Amazon Cafe opened late last year in the base of 3 Second Street, and City Beans and Cafe Ritazza are still serving up coffee too.

Of course, if the Starbucks mantra is to be believed, you can always sell more coffee.

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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Addicts Rejoice as Starbucks Officially "Coming Soon"

Starbucks announces a new store opening on Grove Street in downtown Jersey City

Starbucks officially is "Coming Soon" to the base of Grove Pointe, the luxury residential tower on the corner of Columbus and Newark Avenue. Starbucks has long been rumored to be coming to the base of the tower. This is the second location in Jersey City, excluding Target's in store coffee counter. The Newport Starbucks was temporarily closed last year for renovations.


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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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