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Monday, June 30, 2008

City Waterfalls Visible from Waterfront

New York City Waterfalls visible from the Jersey City Waterfront in Paulus Hook

Waterfalls installed in New York City's East River were turned on last week, just in time to compliment the Independence Day Fireworks Show. The Governor's Island installation is visible from Jersey City's waterfront. The waterfalls, the brainchild of artist Olafur Eliasson cost more than $15 million and will be on display through the middle of October.

Below, the distant waterfall is highlighted off the tip of lower Manhattan. The picture was taken from the waterfront walkway at the base of the Goldman Sachs Tower.

Another viewing location in Jersey City is from the Hyatt Pier.


Philipine American Festival in Exchange Place

Philipine American Friendship day in Exchange Place in downtown Jersey City

Sunday Afternoon in Exchange Place in downtown Jersey City was the Philipine-American Festival hosted on the waterfront. Sunday afternoon's severe thunderstorms eventually rained out events like Philipine Idol and several people were injured by tents blowing in the wind. Sunday morning though, the sky was sunny and the organizers were preparing for the event.


Powerhouse District Festival

Powerhouse Arts District festival and fair, Saturday June 28th

The Powerhouse Arts District Neighborhood Association held their third annual neighborhood BBQ and street fair on Saturday. The event included live music and arts and crafts vendors as well as local shops like d.e.e.n selling their wares.

The old loading bay served as a perfect live act stage for a mostly on pitch performance.


Gimme Some of that Old Time Religion

City Hall on Saturday June 28th during the 30th Anniversary of the Iglesias Christianas Fuente de Salvacion

City Hall was inundated with Jesus loving congregants on Saturday afternoon singing and celebrating the 30th Anniversary of a local Communipaw Avenue Church, Fuente de Salvacion.

Second Street Car Goes Up in Flames

A car fire in downtown Jersey City

Saturday evening at dusk, a car burst into flames on Second Street in downtown Jersey City. The car was located between Erie and Grove Street.

Second Street in Jersey City where a car burned


Friday, June 27, 2008

Hamilton Square


PAD Development Breeds Artwork

anti-development artwork installed in Jersey City's Powerhouse Arts District

The Toll Brothers plan to build high rise towers in the Powerhouse Arts District may have killed the law protecting the arts centric neighborhood, but its also lead to more art. Anti-development, anti-capitalism paintings have been installed across the street from the historic Manischewitz warehouse.

Perhaps there is still life left in the PAD.


Viral Marketing or Simply Graffiti?

Taco Bell and Burger King symbols have begun appearing around downtown Jersey City

Logos for fast food chains Burger King and Taco Bell have begun appearing around downtown Jersey City, such as the marks seen here. This fence was recently cleaned of graffiti that read "honkey begone" but is now covered in the multicolored adverts. Its unlikely that the fast food chains are involved in vandalism.


La Rustique Open for Business

La Rustique pizzeria has officially opened for business at its new location at Fifth Street and Jersey Avenue. The former Paulus Hook favorite moves to the Harsimus Cove neighborhood, occupying a retail space that once housed GO, a gourmet cheese shop known for selling goods past their sell by dates.

The pizza's thin crust, fresh mozzarella, and sweet tomato sauce is hard to beat, and a serious loss for Paulus Hook residents. The Paulus Hook location was shuttered a few days ago. Rumor has it, the landlord is looking to open his own eatery.

For now, only pizza is available, either by the slice or as a pie. Customers should for now head straight to the side of the building on Fifth Street, where they will find a friendly pizza maker. The cafe portion of the restaurant on the corner of Jersey Avenue will eventually serve sandwiches and Italian dishes but will not open until after Independence Day.

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Hoboken Bicyclists Organize

While New York City in recent years has been quite proactively reclaiming space for pedestrians and bicyclists, the same can not be said in Hudson County. That could change thanks to the efforts of Bike Hoboken, a group working to convince city officials to add bicycle lanes throughout Hoboken. They have a plan.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Cocoa Bakery Cafe Coming to Liberty Harbor

Liberty Harbor North will be home to a new cafe and bakery by Nobu's pastry chef Jessica Isaacs. Cocoa Bakery Cafe will open by the year's end at the latest, though likely sooner. The cafe will feature pastries, cakes and desserts, as well as offering custom made wedding cakes.

Cocoa Bakery Cafe joins Edible Arrangements along the Grand Street retail corridor.

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2008 Farmer's Market Roundup

Van Vorst Park Farmer's Market

2008 has meant a record number of farmer's markets providing fresh produce, baked goods, and of course, pickles. But none of the markets operate daily, and they all show up at different times.

Grove Street PATH Plaza
Newark Avenue
4pm to 8pm

Hamilton Park
2pm to 8pm

Journal Square
PATH Plaza
10:30am to 7:30pm

Van Vorst Park
Park entrance at Montgomery Street
8am to 2pm

Paulus Hook
Washington Street and Dudley Street
11am to 4pm

There is no farmers market in Newport this year; the opening of Morton Williams has lead to a termination of that market.


HDSID Finding Success

WJ & the Sweet Sacrifice

The Historic Downtown Special Improvement District has been making some big improvements lately. The organization launched a summer concert series in the plaza at the corner of Grove Street and Newark Avenue. That concert series concluded yesterday with WJ & the Sweet Sacrifice, above.

The organization has also launched a farmer's market on Mondays in the same location which will run through the beginning of September.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

213 Newark Avenue

213 Newark Avenue is set to pop up above the basement. The developer of this six story residential building has either just finished or is about to finish Ivy House, over at 154 Steuben Street.


Downturn Leads Trump to Modify Plans

An NJN report on the Hudson Bergen Light rail mentions in passing that Donald Trump has "modified" development plans due to the downturn in housing. Likely this means delaying the second tower, which seemed fairly self evident.

Peter Mocco, developer of Liberty Harbor North, appeared in the NJN segment, though dodged the question as to the possible effect of a slowing housing market on that development. He did suggest Jersey City may be somewhat more isolated from the rest of the housing slump due to its proximity to New York.

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Japanese Eatery Coming to 50 Columbus

Construction permits on "retail 2" at 50 Columbus -- a retail location on the northeast corner of the tower -- indicate that a Japanese themed restaurant will soon be installed. On one permit, "Tokyo Kitchen" is listed, which also happens to be a restaurant in Montclair, New Jersey. Whether the two are related is undetermined.


Aqua Tower to Double Retail

Newport's Aqua tower which recently started getting its exterior cladding is set to amend its final design phase, according to the Jersey Journal. The tower was originally planned as having 16,000 square feet of retail but is bumping that to 34,610 feet. The total residential unit count is going from 358 to 355.

The Aqua is to serve as the east side of Newport's River Market. The River Market concept was meant to bring a downtown like shopping experience to an otherwise retail scarce neighborhood. The first phase of the River Market was the retail in the base of the Shore Club, which includes a bank and the recently opened Morton Williams grocery store. The Newport skating rink is also meant to attract customers to the market in the winter time.

However, the focus of the market so far seems to be in providing services to residents rather than creating a retail destination. Additions expected in the Aqua portion of retail include a pizzeria and a school, neither of which draw in window shoppers.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Crystal Point


Burger Joint Coming to Athena

Cobblestone Cafe and Bar will be opening on Washington Blvd in the base of the Athena tower, joining neighbors Chili's and Uno Chicago Grill.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Embankment Development Plan Includes Wild Tower

Hoboken architectural firm Dean Marchetto Associates has posted online plans for the Sixth Street Embankment. While the developer Steve Hyman and local activists work out their issues in court, the rest of us can ponder just what exactly is intended here.

The strange plans call for housing to be built on top the embankment, but also include a wide area of park land along the the span of the embankment, including bridges over each section. Cars would be stored underneath the embankment, with the exterior preserved, minus a few holes for the cars to get in and out.

The plan though is not just limited to the Sixth Street embankment though. In addition, the master plan calls for converting the Metro Plaza shopping center into an "embedded big box mix use area." Someone needs to tell Dean Marchetto that "big box" and "mix use" are incompatible terms.

But that's not all. The plan also calls for a new signature tower to be built on the end of the pier at Sixth Street. The sail shaped building is depicted as standing twice the height of the existing Newport Center VII.

Finally, plan also calls for some form of redevelopment west of the turnpike at the far end of the Embankment, perhaps roughly corresponding to the location Hyman was looking to have rezoned in exchange for handing over the embankment to the city. Either way, this plan doesn't look like its happening anytime soon.


Rail Yard Development Unveiled

Hoboken Terminal clocktower

The Hoboken rail yards will eventually be a 54 acre mixed use development with high rise towers according to plans released last week. Three quarters of the land falls within Hoboken with the remainder in Jersey City bordering against Newport.

According to The Hudson Reporter, the project will cost as much as $500 million dollars. The masterplan was prepared by architectural firm FXFOWLE.

The NJ Transit rail yards present a major opportunity to physically unite Jersey City and Hoboken. For now, a vast expanse of undeveloped and industrial land exists on the north end of Jersey City with the rail yards a major obstacle between Hoboken and Jersey City. For instance, 700 Grove Street and the Zephyr Lofts, both in Jersey city but North of the rail lines, might as well be in Hoboken; there is no neighborhood to the south, only desolate parking lots and fenced in vacant land.

Developing the rail yard would provide a major opportunity to further transit oriented growth in New Jersey. Already, Hoboken property nearest the terminal is largely built out. Large vacant properties are only available in the western side of the city. Further, the value disparity has become more evident in the recent real estate downturn with eastern properties continuing to sell. In either case, Hoboken's terminal has not been used to maximum effectiveness as a transit center since property to the south and west over the rail yards are not being built out. Building on the rail yards will allow more residents or office workers to commute by more easily accessible trains.

Also to the immediate south of the Hoboken terminal is the northern end of the Newport property in Jersey City. NJ Transit is building a bridge over the a small canal that will connect Jersey City's waterfront to Hoboken at the rail terminal. When completed, the bridge will make Newport properties planned for the Hoboken / Jersey City border more desirable. The north side of the development is more than half a mile from the Pavonia-Newport PATH station, but less than a quarter mile from the Hoboken terminal when traveling over the new bridge.

The 54 acre rail yards are roughly the size of Liberty Harbor North. In that development, nearly 7,000 housing units and nearly a million feet of office space are planned. The final tally over the NJ Transit property may be higher though because Liberty Harbor North contains a significant amount of low and mid-rise buildings.

The rail yards project will certainly change the Hoboken skyline, but it will also make available more housing. But whatever happens, the project is years away from starting, and even further from completion.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Sales Slow, but Continue

Development in Hoboken's west side is slowing, but waterfront properties continue to sell according to the Times. The Toll Brothers waterfront projects continue to sell quickly, including Maxwell Place. Strong sales there could both provide incentives and capital to move forward with a three tower complex in Jersey City's Powerhouse District.

Meanwhile, on the west side of Hoboken where recently a movie theater broke ground, sales are slowing. Asking prices are the first round of negotiations down rather than the starting point for a bidding war. Some projects have since been converted to rentals. The Velocity for instance, the luxury project under construction next to Hoboken's low income projects has since gone rental. Similarly, the Cliff Lofts went from condo to rental last year as well. The Cliffs are technically in Jersey City, but sit at the base of the Palisade cliffs, across the street from Hoboken's Second Street light rail station.

Another area still booming is on the Jersey City border near Observer Highway. Several low rise projects are currently under construction along Paterson Plank Road at the intersection with Observer Highway. Also in the vicinity is 700 Grove, again, technically a Jersey City project, where some units remain available even though the building opened a year ago.

The strength of the real estate market is holding in the most desirable areas like waterfront locations and those in proximity to rail stations. However, deals can be found in regions farther from the core of gentrification and redevelopment.

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Hudson Office Market Strong

The New York Times has a bit on New Jersey office real estate markets; construction on several projects in suburban north Jersey are moving forward. More importantly though, vacancy rates on Hudson coast are down to about 8 percent, and new projects are being planned including another tower in Hoboken.

Part of the continued strength comes from the Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit Program in effect since January. 9 Cities qualify, including Hoboken and Jersey City. Under the program, office development within a half mile of designated transit hubs qualifies for state tax abatements.

New office towers are expected along the Gold Coast, but not immediately. Harborside Plaza 4 surfaced last year briefly, but before the credit crisis (coincidentally, happy birthday, Credit Crunch!). Newport has no immediate plans for new office towers; several additional residential towers are in various stages of approval there, but no new office towers. Hoboken's Waterfront Corporate Center has a third complex in the works, as noted in the Times. The Journal Square area does have several opportunities, and the hope is the development of the Harwood Towers will eventually bring more development there.

Still, many office development firms continue to insist on constructing suburban office parks, even as gasoline surpasses $4 a gallon. While suburban New Jersey office parks are currently asking a third of mid-town rents, and half of asking rents along the Gold Coast, unless fuel prices drop, employees may be less inclined to transfer into office space inaccessible to mass transit. The true effect of New Jersey's Urban Transit Tax Credit won't be realized for some time; the program has only been in effect for six months.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Edible Arrangements Coming to Liberty Harbor North

Edible Arrangements in Jersey City in the Liberty Harbor North development

Edible Arrangements, the flower bundles made from carved fruit, is coming to Liberty Harbor North's Grand Street retail strip.

Residents have been living in Liberty Harbor North for several months already, but retail so far is still in development. Along Grand Street, the base of the 'brownstone' units contain retail spaces that are finally now being finished. Also along grand street are two actual historic properties with retail space that have been rehabbed.

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Aqua Tower Getting Skin

Newport's Aqua Tower is finally getting a glass and concrete skin. The tower's shell was topped off months ago, yet little progress was made on the exterior. The base of the tower will be the east side of the Newport River Market, a marketing moniker created by the Lefraks with the hope of bringing more retail to Newport. So far a school and pizzeria are expected in the base.


Shakespeare in Frank Sinatra Park

The Hudson Shakespeare Company will be performing Twelfth Night in Frank Sinatra Park on Monday next week and the week after, beginning at 7PM.

Hudson Shakespeare Company.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Liberty Harbor North Tower 3

The third large size tower at Liberty Harbor North continues steadily upward. Two other mid rise buildings are nearly complete, the Sutton and the Lofts, while many of the low rise buildings such as the faux brownstones are already occupied.

This building will continue to extend the development further south.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Summer Retail Thriving Downtown

Morton Williams opened yesterday in the base of the Shore Club in Newport. The high end grocery store is responsible for Newport rescinding the summer farmer's market at the Pavonia PATH station. The waterfront location is the first in New Jersey for the New York chain of premium grocers.

Kim's Video in Newport is rumored to be closing come Sunday, with genuine closeout deals on all the merchandise, up to 50% off. Kim's had been suffering a slow death over the last year.

Kim's Video in Newport, Jersey City
Kim's Video in Newport

Newark Avenue
Newark Avenue looking a bit more like Paris these days. Cafe tables have sprouted up along the street in the mythical Restaurant Row. Helen's Pizza started the trend, but tables are now outside of Sawadee Thai and bar/lounge/bistro LITM. The roof deck at Skinner's Loft has also opened for the season, though apparently is only for dinner between 7 and 9.

One of the generic Newark Avenue electronics stores is closing shop and moving a block west, to reopen at 184 Newark Avenue. The independent electronic shop is taking over where Helen's Ice Cream stand was, adjacent to Helen's Pizza. The new space is much smaller.

Gas Clothing, an apparel store, recently opened as well. The building received a face lift too with the ugly metal grates having been ripped off the front -- a sure sign that the neighborhood is changing.
Gas, a men's store in Jersey City
Gas, a new clothing store

Grove Street
Rachel, the awful little cafe on the south end of Grove Street that closed last year may soon become a new restaurant promises a sign posted in the window. The new eatery will make use of the outdoor garden and is rumored to be another Thai restaurant.

More Restaurant setting up shop on Grove Street
A new restaurant on Grove Street

A new wine and spirit shop is planned for Grove Street just north of Newark Avenue in the old Crescent Restaurant location, an eatery long since closed.

Crescent on Grove Street is no more

Jersey Avenue
Fish With Braids, a new gallery, opened on Jersey Avenue between Newark Avenue and Columbus Blvd. The space is small. The name, by the way, comes from the fact that the location is between a hair braiding salon and a fish market.

Fish with Braids, Jersey Avenue, Jersey City
Fish With Braids gallery on Jersey Avenue

Shoe Fetish, a small boutique of featuring ladies shoes, has thrown in the towel and closed up shop. Our take is that the store probably was catering to ladies of the evening when they should have instead been stocking Converse.

Shoe Fetish has closed
Shoe Fetish has failed

Grove Pointe
Valley National Bank is setting up shop in Grove Pointe on the Marin Blvd side of the tower. Along with Starbucks and Duane Reade, Grove Pointe's retail is looking like nearly every street corner in Manhattan.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Port Authority Looks to Sell Freedom

The Port Authority might be looking to sell the Freedom Tower. Even though the PA was able to build two 110 towers back in the 1960's, a single 102 story tower may prove too much for them in 2008. Perhaps its time to rethink trusting these people with the Moynihan Station.


Monday, June 09, 2008

Overheard: New PATH Car Rumors

A train conductor's conversation over the weekend provided a few insights on the mysterious new PATH train cars that should arrive this year. Accordingly, the new cars won't be in service until September at the earliest, and even then, they will undergo a number of test runs through the system before customers actually see the inside of them. The other little tidbit worth noting is that the new cars, unlike the current fleet, will have closed circuit cameras on every car. Big brother is watching you.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

833 Jersey Ave Condo Project Dead

Back in December 2006, 7 story, 84 unit residential building 833 Jersey Avenue broke ground, clearing the lot and piling up some dirt. The property sits on the border of Jersey City and Hoboken, one of the last downtown frontiers. We mostly assumed this project was dead last year when months passed with no activity on the site. Now it seems the lot and the approved plans are up for sale. The whole thing can be yours for $12 million.


Liberty Harbor North Gaming Search Engines

Someone from Liberty Harbor North's sales department isn't happy with their Google rank. Links to the website have begun appearing on Jersey City focused message boards in posts that are little more than human generated spam.

Posts on JCList linking to appeared as non sequitur statements in threads having little to do with Liberty Harbor North. The messages originated from different user accounts, but shared an Internet Protocol address, the unique way a computer is identified over the net.

The goal of the messages is for search engines to associate certain words such as "Jersey City" and "condos" with the site. Many search engines categorize websites using the words included in the link to the site.


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Toll Brothers Posted Loss

According to The Real Deal, the Toll Brothers posted a quarterly loss due to to slowing demand. The Toll Brothers have plans to build three towers in the heart of the Powerhouse Arts District in downtown Jersey City. Manhattan Toll Brothers projects have been a beacon of hope for the company, but towers in still developing neighborhoods like Brooklyn and Jersey City have slowed. Back in March, it was revealed that 15% of units in 700 Grove, another Toll Brother's project on the Jersey City - Hoboken border, was still unsold after the building opened more than a year ago. This might mean that Powerhouse District residents gain a slight reprieve from the Toll Brothers towers, but in all likelihood, any delay will be temporary.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Hoboken Movie Theater Breaks Ground

The long anticipated movie theater in the northwest corner of Hoboken broke ground today during a ceremony involving Mayor Roberts. A movie theater has been planned for Hoboken for several years but seemed as though the project was to be abandoned last year when several deadlines were missed. Hoboken411 was actually there, with video footage.

Of course, this is just a groundbreaking, and shoveling a bit of dirt around doesn't prevent the project from stalling once more. But that aside, things are looking up for film buffs, who have few options other than crossing the Hudson River. Jersey City's Newport Mall has a movie theater, but as well not considering the broken seats, ripped screens, broken toilets, and leaky faucets, not to mention Newport's theater lacks automated ticket kiosks.


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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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