You have reached an archive page. has ended support for FTP based blogs and New York's Sixth is migrating to WordPress. These pages are only maintained as an archive. For updated content, visit New York's

Friday, May 30, 2008

Second Crane Collapse Kills, Consequences for Construction Certain

A second construction crane collapsed this morning on the upper East side. At least two are dead, Curb ed and Gothamist have excellent live coverage.

Today's tragedy follows a crane collapse on March 15, a Saturday afternoon incident that killed 7. The immediate reaction in March by the city of New York was to launch an investigation into inspection practices, leading to the arrest of Edward Marquette who never actually inspected the crane. Neighbors of the project complained of unsafe building practices, and Marquette is accused of falsifying reports-- he never bothered to show up for the inspections.

Curbed points out that the crane involved in today's collapse was also "inspected" after a neighbor's 311 complaint.

Provisional guidelines created in March after the collapse mandated inspectors be present each time a crane was erected, dismantled, or "jumped." Those rules were later rescinded even though 2 out of 51 crane operations in the seven week period experienced "serious safety violations."

At the time of the collapse, Mayor Bloomberg was in the middle of a morning radio program, and said "You know, we have inspectors out. I mean, it’s – construction is dangerous, but this is just unacceptable and intolerable." (NY1) Well said.

But that's New York, and we're on the other side of the river, in Hudson County, in a city where corruption is legendary. Rapid growth alog Jersey City's waterfront has so far avoided grand catastrophes as the two Manhattan crane accidents. But that doesn't mean it couldn't happen here, especially with building inspectors and city engineers prime patronage jobs.

Jersey City's rampant high rise construction means many streets in the downtown sit in the shadow of high rise cranes. At present, 77 Hudson Street has two, and Aqua in Newport has one. But in the coming weeks, Crystal Pointe will be joining the party as it rises to 36 stories. In addition, 110 First Street and Monaco Towers are expected to begin construction this year. Future projects requiring cranes and likely to proceed in the near future including 3 planned Toll Brothers towers, as well as two 48 story towers, 70 and 90 Columbus. We put together a Google Map estimating distances with G-Map Pedometer to make a best guess of the drop zones for several downtown projects. Good luck.

View Larger Map

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Grove Street Development Needs Zoning Change

South Grove, a proposed development spanning Grove Street between York and Montgomery Streets, apparently needs a zoning change. Curbed notes their rather interesting marketing tactic. A sign has gone up asking what residents would prefer on the site, including such horrendous options as a drive through taco bell. The proposal, originally known as Majestic II, is several years old, with some renderings at JC Vibe.

In December of 2007, the site was cleared of the old carpet store (pictured below), during a rather dramatic demolition. But since then the lot has served as a surface parking lot offering validated parking for a restaurant in the Exeter built Majestic, across the street.

Exeter Properties recently completed the Schroeder Lofts, a few blocks north in the Hamilton Park neighborhood, and currently are working on the rehabilitation of the old St. Francis Hospital being marketed as Hamilton Square.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Real Estate Prices Slipping

The Wall Street Journal has a long winded bit on real estate prices around the nation; some neighborhoods in Manhattan continue to gain value, but according to the article, Jersey City and Hoboken are off between 3% and 14%.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

77 Hudson Topped Off

Hudson Now reports. the condominium tower at 77 Hudson Street was topped off last week at 48 stories. The tower shares a parking garage with a rental building also under construction, but with a Greene Street address. The rental tower suffered a setback last year when several floors burned in a fire.

Green-Blue glass began covering the tower a few weeks ago. 77 Hudson was mentioned in a New York Times story several weeks ago discussing the soaring price of glass. Developer K Hovnanian was immune to the price spikes due to long term contracts, the subtext being that buyers hoping for a modern all glass tower should buy at 77 Hudson because future developments may limit expensive plate glass.

The sales team at 77 Hudson have done a remarkable job grabbing at press coverage. Most recently, the Times compared77 Hudson to Battery Park City's The Visionaire. The prices at 77 Hudson don't exactly match Manhattan's, but are driving the Jersey City's downtown price per square foot; units are rumored to be selling at more than $600 a square foot.

The complex has experienced a rocky construction path. Besides a fire ripping through several floors of the rental tower, a worker fell to his death. The condominium tower is expected to be finished early next year.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

As Residents Gear Up for Fight, Economy Slows Projects

While residents of the Powerhouse District are lawyering up to fend off the Toll Brother's development, preservation efforts across the river are getting some added help from the economic downtown. Sort of.

One victim of the recent economy downtown might very well be the ailing Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn. That redevelopment plan lead by Forest City Ratner called for constructing massive towers in a mixed use development centered around a new basketball arena. Area residents fought the plan in court, delaying construction on the project during the real estate boom. Now the economy is collapsing, credit is drying up, and the project may never be fully realized.

At first glance, a size reduction at the Atlantic Yards project might seem a win for activists. Already Ratner has canceled the would-have-been tallest building in Brooklyn, in favor of a shorter, far less ambitious office tower. On the surface, the economy is helping activists fighting to reduce the size and scope of the project. That is of course, assuming the tower, dubbed B1, is built at all. The Municipal Art Society put together a slide show of the possible future of the Atlantic Yards, dubbed the Atlantic Lots. One real fear now facing the neighborhood is a shortage of money leading to parking lots instead of development.

As the lawsuits began tipping in Forest City Ratner's favor, the developer seized on the opportunities to begin leveling properties owned by the company, ostensibly in preparation for construction. However, Ratner's early demolition may actually be a scorched earth tactic in the war between new development and preservationists. Thor Equities took a similar approach with their Coney Island properties, leveling large blocks in an effort to leverage the city into approving their plans, threatening to walk away after demolishing acres of land.

In downtown Jersey City, it seems few projects are undertaken without local objection. The most recent controversy includes the Toll Brothers plans for construction of three high rise towers in the Powerhouse Arts District. Another legal battle is currently being fought over the elevated Sixth Street embankment, and of there is course the ever famous 111 First Street fight. As legal battles proceed, many activists may hope the economic slow down makes their fights easier. But as with the Atlantic Yards, activists should be cautious as to what they wish for.

Take for example, the fight over 111 First Street. The hundred year old warehouse was once home to a number of artists. Nearly a decade ago, the buildings owner attempted to evict the low rent tenants and built a new tower on top of the old warehouse. A protracted legal battle followed, with the city eventually capitulating to the developer. With great fanfare, plans for a showcase tower by starchitect Rem Koolhaus was announced, the old warehouse demolished, and then the bottom fell out of the credit market.

The lot at 111 First Street current plays host to a pile of dirt, construction detritus from the lot across the street. A metal cyclone fence surrounds the empty lot, littered with bricks and other debris. Rumors are rampant that the site, idle for months, may not be getting a Rem Koolhaus tower anytime soon. And the final design, when a building is eventually constructed on the site, may be trimmed from the formerly ambitious designs announced to the world, all to accommodate new budgets and fiscal realities. Until then of course, the city has another empty lot. At least for now no one has applied to zone the site as an interim parking lot, a fate all too common in the downtown.

In the late 1990s, the Millennium Towers project, two 43 story towers proposed for the Hoboken border raised the ire of Jersey City heights residents afraid of losing their precious views of the Manhattan skyline. Now, ten years later, proposals for high rise construction above the Hoboken rail yards will likely obstruct Height's residents views, and the lots in Jersey City where the Millennium Towers would have been built are still vacant, former industrial sites.

Residents of the Powerhouse District threatened a lawsuit even before the city council approved zoning changes allowing the Toll Brothers to build high rise towers. All the residents are doing is assuring a lengthy legal battle before a single brick is laid. Already the district is scarred. The heart of the Powerhouse district has been an abandoned construction site since last March. Developers of the Provost Square development broke ground, drilled a few pilings, and then walked away after reaching an agreement with the Toll Brothers. The Manischewitz factory has been closed for more than a year (and caused a Matzah shortage too).

Abandoned construction sites and empty factories can hardly be what neighborhood residents had in mind when they demanded lower density. But with all signs pointing to weakening economy, even if residents win their legal battles, they may still end up the losers. A court ruling in the residents favor may not improve the neighborhood at all. Reducing allowable density with a slow economy and tight credit market might make it impossible for any developer to acquire financing for a smaller scale project for years to come. That would leave the neighborhood with empty warehouses and abandoned construction. On the other hand, residents could lose the legal fight anyway, but delay Toll's ground breaking long enough to make construction impossible for years to come, again leading to a long period with empty warehouses and abandoned construction.

In all likelihood, local government in Jersey City will do its best to help see projects along. Most recently, the city council revisited revised tax abatements for the Monaco Towers after it seemed as though the project had all but fallen apart. But even a city with a pro-development agenda is impotent against a waning economy. Ultimately, fighting development can be a high stakes poker game, and even the winner may feel cheated in the end.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Newport Aqua Tower

Newport's newest rental tower, the Aqua, under construction in Jersey City

The Aqua tower under construction now will soon be the newest rental tower in the Newport section of Jersey City. Seen here from the Hoboken Terminal, the tower rises in front of two condominium towers. The base of the building will contain retail and form a "river market."

Labels: ,

About New York's Sixth

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.


Advertise on New York's Sixth through Google Adwords


Powered by Blogger

All original content copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 to Ian MacAllen, unless otherwise attributed. For more information, contact | Annex | Archive