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J.C. finds new rules haven’t abated new projects

Waterfront tower going up despite cut in tax breaks

Rendering of the soon-to-be-completed Trump Plaza complex in Jersey City — the first waterfront development site to get a tax break under the city's revamped abatement system.

After years of sitting in the shadow of its well-known sister building, the second piece of Jersey City’s Trump Plaza complex is only months away from breaking ground.

And the project is more than just a new addition to the Gold Coast skyline.

The planned 50-story apartment building, which would rise alongside a tower built eight years ago, is the first waterfront development site to get a tax break under the city’s revamped abatement system. The program was overhauled last year by Mayor Steven Fulop to steer development to inner-city neighborhoods such as Journal Square.

That means tax abatements for waterfront residential projects are nowhere near as long or lucrative as in years past, when they were used to build the thriving hub that exists there today.

But if the new Trump Plaza tower is any indication, that’s not likely to keep developers away from the Hudson River — and it’s affirmation for critics who said the need for big tax breaks on the waterfront had long passed.

“The views of Lower Manhattan are still there,” said Gene Paolino, an attorney with Genova Burns Giantomasi Webster, on whether interest in the area is still strong. He represented KABR Group and Kushner Cos. in securing the five-year tax abatement for the new Trump Plaza tower in early April.

The joint venture is now slated to break ground in June on the 447-unit project, also known as 65 Bay Street, after acquiring the development rights in 2011.

More importantly, though, industry experts said the waterfront and downtown will continue to make economic sense — even as builders begin to explore other parts of the city.

“The numbers still work because the rents are strong and getting stronger,” said Adam Altman, managing member of KABR, whose firm is based in Ridgefield Park.

“The rents have grown robustly over the last five years, and we see continued growth and strength in the waterfront.”

Altman also noted Jersey City is “not just becoming a bedroom community for New York City” — the area is becoming a destination for living and working all on its own.

Joshua Burd

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