After decades spent building a vast multifamily portfolio around New Jersey’s Gold Coast and then New York City, Ironstate Development is adding a new location to its list of target markets: Stamford, Connecticut.The well-respected Hoboken-based firm is preparing to start construction on a 672-unit, mixed-use project in that city, which sits about 40 miles from Manhattan and is connected by a busy Metro-North rail station. Working in a joint venture with The Rich Co., a local developer, Ironstate said it expects to begin site work next month and deliver the first phase of 194 units by around fall 2016.
The multifamily builder has made its mark in and around Hudson County for years by targeting transit-oriented, up-and-coming urban centers. But David Barry, president of Ironstate, said Stamford has “a similar story to a lot of these other (cities)” where the firm has thrived in the past, thanks in large part to its rail and highway access and a growing business district that essentially draws a host of people to the city even as others leave there to commute to Manhattan.
“It’s a really, really strong mass transit connection and hub, and it’s also got a tremendous downtown feel in and of itself,” said Barry, who leads the firm with his brother, Michael. “We consider it the best city between New York and Boston in terms of having the most attributes and, really, being well-placed to kind of be the microcenter for that southern Connecticut, northern Westchester area.”
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The project is based on Ironstate’s “Urban Ready Life” concept, a model focused on more efficient units and amenities aimed at fostering more social interaction. The firm is introducing the URL concept at a major project in Jersey City and at other sites in its pipeline.
The move into Stamford comes about six years after Ironstate began to expand beyond Hoboken and Jersey City, where the third-generation firm came to prominence. The expansion brought it to New York City, where it has enjoyed success with a slate of multifamily and hotel projects.
The firm is also seeking to make its mark on the north shore of Staten Island, where it’s building a $150 million, mixed-use project as part of a broader redevelopment of a former naval base. Ironstate’s plan calls for about 900 units of residential housing, 30,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, 600 parking spaces and a public plaza, also under the URL concept.
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With a site that faces Manhattan, the firm is hoping to find the same success it found at Pier Village in Long Branch, which it developed over the last several years around the idea that people enjoy living, dining and doing other activities on the waterfront.
“To that point, engaging the waterfront in New York City is rare,” said Michael Barry, who serves as president of Ironstate Holdings. “The city generally owns all the waterfront property and there’s kind of a barrier … but having the community now coming to engage the waterfront area makes for a very lively place to live, and the retail that goes along with that, as well.”
David Barry also said it’s another sign that the city’s outer boroughs are increasingly being viewed as viable options for urban living.
“Ten, 15 years ago, it was all about Manhattan, and it was kind of this funny look if you said you lived in Brooklyn or Queens or Jersey City at that point in time,” he said. “That’s completely changed. Obviously, we know the Brooklyn story and how strong that brand has become. I think that’s all tied to that story of pushing the creative class into the outer boroughs.”
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