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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Urban Migration of College Grads May Slow

Over the next few weeks, colleges across the country will begin graduating a new class, sending thousands of young people into the job market. In years past, many freshly minted college graduates have flocked to New York City, and shortly after realizing they can't afford Manhattan, end up in the outer boroughs-- Brooklyn, Queens, and of course, Jersey City.

But this year may be very different than years past. The financial sector in New York could shed up to 36,000 jobs, making this year particularly difficult for new graduates as more experienced workers become job seekers. Meanwhile, as the economy slumps across the nation, upper middle class parents may be less inclined to support their precious young hipsters with rent subsidies.

In recent months, several former condominium projects planned for Jersey City have switched to rental projects. While credit may be hard to come by, people always need a place to live, and rentals can better weather the storm. However, if the supply of fresh young renters dries up, even the rental market could be hurt. The luxury rental towers are less likely to feel the pinch on this side of the river, with higher rents demanding more established young professionals. But a dearth of young hipsters will certainly begin reduce demand on brownstone apartment rentals, or larger luxury rental units that can be shared by roommates. Many new college graduates may opt to spend more time in their parent's suburban houses, rent free, or in cheaper college towns than make the move to the big city.

Still, the summer rental period is long. New job seekers are more likely to find employment in September than in June anyway, but its unlikely the economy will do an about face in four months. On the plus side, for those already in the market, this summer may be a great time time to find a good deal on a new rental.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bates Project Clipped

A twelve story tower planned for the western end of the downtown has been shortened to 7 stories. The Bates Project was originally to break ground in the spring last year, but never did. The original renderings showed a low base with a slender tower. The new rendering available from Mushroom Development now shows a much squatter building. The seven story building will still include 129 "loft style" residential units. There is no mention of including retail space, though the original tower was to have up to 8 units.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Epitaph for the Powerhouse Arts District

The folks over at compiled video footage relating to the rise and fall of the Powerhouse Arts District, including clips from the council meeting creating the district and the meeting that effectively eliminated it.


New Abatement Scheme Could Breath Life into Monaco Towers

Back in January, Roseland properties wanted to alter the terms of their 2006 abatement, from a 20 year program to 10. The developer was having trouble securing financing for the project even though they essentially broke ground last May. The council rejected the changes in January.

The 47 story project includes about 520 rental apartments; the project originally was planned as condominiums. After the council denied amending the abatement, the project was declared dead.

Now though the proposal is once again back before the city council according to the Journal. In order to keep the project alive, the council decided to revisit the issue. The developer had also made a previous payment in anticipation of construction, which the city would have to repay. With the changes, the city would no longer be liable for reimbursing the money, and there is a financial incentive for the development to be completed by 2011.

However, critics of the amendment, including downtown councilman Steve Fulop, insist that the change will lead to other developers seeking changes to abatement their plans, such as The Metropolitan, a 67 story tower planned for a lot adjacent to the Monaco towers, but that is also experiencing finance issues. Another prime candidate would be second, unbuilt Trump Tower. Like with the Monaco property, the developers have already made a abatement payment for the second tower and may leverage the money for a new payment program.

The council is expected to vote on the plan tonight.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

About the "Temporary" PATH Station...

Curbed mentions a bit in the Sun about the fate of the World Trade Center PATH station. Last week, the director of the Port Authority resigned. He was closely linked to sex-o-holic Spitzer, and newly minted Governor Paterson supposedly forced him out. Paterson's new choice might take this opportunity to scrap plans to build a new World Trade Center Gateway for the PATH, instead opting to spend the money in Penn Station. Shifting the money to Penn Station is good news for suburbanites, but not so much for urban dwellers relying on the PATH.

In the months after September 11th, the region's transportation agencies painted a rosy picture of the future of downtown transportation. The MTA and Port Authority promised a massive investment and the integration of the subways and PATH trains in a massive Fulton Street hub to rival the other three or four other great transit hubs in the city. The Port Authority and MTA in a seeming competition to outdo the other, promised grand entrances to their respective portions of the station.

Then reality sunk in. The MTA started cutting back on the underground tubes connecting various subway lines. The Port Authority clipped off Calatrava's soaring "wings" of the original station design. Now all that remains of the once grand entranceway to lower Manhattan is a collection of unfinished concrete.

The Port Authority certainly has an obligation to maximize the effectiveness of its financial resources, but let's not forget the agency lost millions of dollars when it failed to deliver the World Trade Center site to developer Larry Silverstein. Meanwhile, someone (here's looking at you Jon) should remind Paterson that the Port Authority is a bi-state agency.


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Port Authority Cheats PATH Riders, Again

Once again, the Port Authority has scaled back plans for the Calatrava designed World Trade Center PATH station, once promised as a grand entry point to lower Manhattan. The Times says the new plans will cut corners on the interior spaces, relying more on the temporary station's internal spaces and tracks while using cheaper columns instead of creating broad, open spaces.

Meanwhile, the exterior aesthetics will remain, so claims the Port Authority. Maybe. Twice already, Calatrava's design has been altered, once for security, and the second time for cost, not that much of that matters now anyway. What remains of the Calatrava station is a veneer, the awe inspiring interiors gutted by mismanagement.

At least the Port Authority has money to pay for guys with machine guys to shakedown grandmothers smuggling firecrackers.


Friday, April 11, 2008

Office Vacancies, Rents Increase

The Real Deal is pointing out an increase in office vacancies downtown, all while asking prices on leases grow. For months the downtown office market had been tightening. By February, occupancy rates surpassed midtown for the first time since 2001, leading us to speculate the tightening market could lead to new office construction along Jersey City's waterfront. Yet now, with increasing availability, even if not decreasing prices, new construction in secondary markets seems unlikely.

Meanwhile, workers at ground zero continue to plug away on millions of square feet of office space, becoming available starting in 2011. The creation of new spaces at the World Center site while neighboring towers increase vacancy rates means a likely glut of office space. In addition, the nation's economy continues to shed jobs, meaning less space is needed.

Port Authority Tolls Reduce Traffic

Last month's bump in tolls saw a dramatic decline in traffic, according to the Times. The 2.9% drop in traffic was far greater than the expected 2.3% drop, and occurred faster. Thats more than 10,000 fewer vehicles crossing the river.

The toll hike increased the six dollar toll to eight, and eliminated the discount for EZ-Pass users. The statistics come days after New York's failure to approve a congestion pricing plan, which coincidentally, would also have been an eight dollar fee.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

PATH Riders Prefer Metro Cards

The Port Authority's SmartCards aren't too popular, according to the Jersey Journal. The discount offered by the cards is simply not enough to entice riders into signing up, and many riders still prefer the universal pay-per-ride Metro Card.

One day in the Utopian future, the SmartCards will be universal on the MTA, NJ Transit, and PATH systems. The Port Authority agreed to sign up for a universal system in 2005, about a year after the MTA began testing the system, though the MTA continues to experiment.


Monday, April 07, 2008

Albany Gifts $350 Million to Flyover States

Politicians in New York State's legislature have killed congestion pricing for New York City, reports the NY Times, Gothamist. By not acting today, Albany has given up New York City's chance at $350 million in federal grants, assuring the money will be distributed elsewhere. Congestion pricing, the $8 fee to enter Manhattan's business districts would have funneled millions of dollars into projects like the Second Avenue subway while simultaneously reducing traffic on Manhattan streets.


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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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