If you’re a close watcher of residential real estate projects in the Garden State, sometimes it can be hard to remember that development can take place outside of Hudson County. Jersey City and, to a lesser extent, Hoboken lead the region in building the kind of transformative high-rises that frequently lease up well ahead of occupancy.
Of course, when you have a neighbor in Manhattan that’s adding jobs much faster than elsewhere, it’s easy to sell people on the convenience of a short commute via PATH or ferry. That’s what makes a couple of North Jersey projects outside the so-called Gold Coast so exciting — if projects in Newark and Bogota can entice New York commuters, it may open the floodgates for more in-fill projects in the state’s less-celebrated downtown areas.
Let’s start in downtown Newark. First, there’s One Theater Square, a project that, in all fairness, should have been completed years ago. But building in the Brick City is never an easy task — look at the Herculean feat required in getting the Prudential Center built — and it seemed the 2008 subprime swoon would be the final nail in the coffin for this project. At a grand opening ceremony earlier this month, though, backers were excited about the possibility of drawing interest from commuters who’ve been priced out of neighborhoods like Brooklyn and Jersey City. They are not the only ones thinking along those lines. The ever-patient Boraie Development has One Rector Street, a $75 million high rise that will feature 168 market-rate units.
Growing the Gold Coast is great, but having growth in other areas is the ultimate goal for the state
Meanwhile, in Bergen County, a former Hess property along the Hackensack River is slated to become a mixed-use project of more than 400 units and commercial space, including a river walk. This is similar to other suburban downtown projects that have helped revitalize downtowns in Morristown, Red Bank and New Brunswick, and it will benefit from nearby Hackensack’s status as an employment center — the county seat is home to a major hospital, law firms, Fairleigh Dickinson University and many mom-and-pop shops. It’s also notable because the site has been cleaned extensively by builder River Development, which is building new water and sewer infrastructure to serve the area. This is a key piece of new development projects that is often lacking, creating heavy strain on municipal resources when hundreds of new residents move in — again, see Hudson County.
It’s great to see new projects coming online in different parts of the state. We hope other builders take note and start identifying other areas where this sort of work can be a strong investment for New Jersey.