That’s when they noticed something about the street that had been closed off for the ceremony.
“A lightbulb went off,” said David Gaber, partner and CFO of the firm, later adding: “We saw everyone out on the cobblestone street and (thought), ‘Why would we open this up to cars?’”
They never did. Instead, the developer worked with city officials to turn the space into a pedestrian plaza, which now houses a farmers market every Saturday from June to November.
“It just made a lot of sense,” Gaber said.
It was another step in building a neighborhood in the north end of Hoboken, where Bijou has also converted a former Hostess factory into a 42,000-square-foot retail center. And the firm has taken the wraps off its latest addition, a 12-story apartment building known as Park Garden.
The project, which sits between 14th and 15th streets, features 212 units and the types of amenities that renters now expect along the Hudson River. That means everything from stainless steel appliances and outdoor party spaces to a fitness center and a high-tech automated parking garage.
At a glance
Developer: Bijou Properties
Address: 1450 Garden St., Hoboken
Size: Two connected 12-story towers with 212 one-, two- and three-bedroom units
Rents: Starting at $3,250
Architect: Marchetto Higgins Stieve
But it’s Park Garden’s “green” features that are equally important to the Hoboken-based developer. Chief among them is a vegetated rooftop terrace that will absorb storm water and ease the burden on the city’s sewer system; there’s also the state-of-the-art rooftop heating and cooling plant and cogeneration module, which uses high-pressure natural gas to produce hot water and electricity.
Matthew Testa, Bijou’s director of construction, said that allows the landlord to be ecofriendly and socially conscious, but also provides a benefit to tenants. He estimated a Park Garden tenant could pay $100 for a monthly heating and cooling bill that could be $400 in the middle of winter — something that could go a long way in creating a sustainable neighborhood with a steady core of residents.
“That’s a green philosophy in itself, because we all know people are nomadic in the Jersey City and Hoboken areas,” Testa said, noting that moving inevitably leads to throwing things out and buying new property, sometimes unnecessarily. “Keeping people here three to five years actually has a lot of positive benefits that are more than skin-deep.”
That’s not to mention that Bijou’s development pipeline is giving new life to an area that is one of the last undeveloped frontiers in the Mile Square City.
Park it here
When it comes to efficiency, the parking garage at Park Garden is one of the signature features.
That’s because the automated 380-car facility has six levels of parking fit into four levels of the building, thanks to a system of sliding platforms and lifts that stows vehicles without the need for a driver to be inside. And it means tenants can drop off and retrieve their cars with the swipe of a key fob.
Those efficiencies also allowed Bijou Properties to raise the unit count from 180 to 212 as it developed the building, according to Partner and CFO David Gaber. Equally important, opting for the state-of-art system allowed the firm to simplify the project in a major way, even if it was sizable investment up front.
“When we switched to automated we were able to bring everything up above ground, which is huge now because of the new flood regulations, and also get another 32 units,” Gaber said. “So the added value just of switching from normal to automated is really big.
“When you look at the other factors it definitely made a lot of sense financially.”
“Along the lines of urban revitalization and neighborhood building, this is a perfect example of how an area of New Jersey that, 10 years ago was strictly industrial, is now not only residential (and) mixed-use, but has a lot of forward-thinking projects that are making it into a neighborhood that people can stay in for a very long time,” Testa said. “Obviously Hoboken is known to be a transient city, but the demographics are changing and we’re trying to build to cater to that change.”
Park Garden also includes a 32,000-square-foot charter school and 13,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space. Meantime, Gaber said the firm is in the planning stages for a 45,000-square-foot commercial building nearby, one that would help attract more people to the area with a rock climbing gym and other offerings.
And the north end is not the only place in Hoboken where Bijou is neighborhood-building. The firm is also active on the city’s west side, where it plans to complete a 135-unit residential building at 900 Monroe St. in December, and where it’s also planning a development at 700 Harrison St.
But don’t expect the developer to be concerned about overbuilding in the city. Gaber cited the difficulty of finding sites and the lengthy approval process, and he said the options are much scarcer than in neighboring Jersey City, where thousands of units are planned or under construction.
“I think you can probably pick the amount of projects that are going up or in the works on two hands, so I think there’s underbuilding in Hoboken,” he said. “We’ve had a great response to our opening.”
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