Sited on the west bank of the Hudson River, Jersey City is connected to Manhattan by a web of transit lines that are making it an increasingly desirable location for new residents priced out of New York City. Developers have taken note of this trend, as evidenced by a pair of high-rise residential complexes that recently broke ground in the satellite city. When complete, the two projects—one designed by HWKN with Handel Architects, the other by Dutch firm Concrete—will be among the tallest buildings in New Jersey.
“As Brooklyn becomes more and more inconvenient due to affordability and transportation, people are warming up to New Jersey’s convenience,” said Matthias Hollwich, partner at HWKN. He noted that many of the amenities that draw people to Brooklyn already exist in Jersey City, from a vibrant dining scene to tech incubation hubs. “It’s really unknown to many people.” His firm is building a triad of towers at Journal Square, the tallest of which is 74 floors and 740 feet. “I was really amazed at the accessibility that’s completely underutilized,” he continued. “It’s only 10 minutes to the World Trade Center and 15 to Midtown Manhattan.”
HWKN broke ground at their so-called Journal Squared, or J2, project last November, according to developer Jonathan Kushner, brother of HWKN principal Marc Kushner. The 2.4 million-square-foot plan groups three towers around a PATH station that handles 5 million train passengers annually. The first tower will top out at 54 floors and features a pixelated facade of square windows accented by a dynamic lighting scheme. Hollwich declined to discuss design specifics of the project, but initial concepts call for a series of landscaped roof terraces with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline.
“We took special care in the crafting of urban qualities so not to abuse what’s already there,” said Hollwich, emphasizing that the project is a prime example of a transit-oriented development. “You can reduce the parking because its been demonstrated that you need less around transit,” he said. “Now we have a maximum of .5 cars per apartment, but it potentially could be zero, and that’s a good thing.” Jonathan Kushner told the New York Times the future phases of the project would likely take several more years.
Down the tracks toward Manhattan, developers Mack-Cali Realty Corporation and Ironstate Development just broke ground on the first of three more towers grouped around the Exchange Place PATH Station. Concrete designed the three towers as a series of stacked glass boxes rising from parking podia covered in pixelated metal and wood screens. Occupiable landscaped roofs linked by pedestrian bridges connect the overall site. Standing 713 feet tall with 69 floors, the new tower, called URL Harborside, or Urban-Ready Living Harborside, takes the state’s second tallest title behind Cesar Pelli’s 42-story, 781-foot-tall 30 Hudson Street.
“We believe there is strong demand for a live-work-play environment that offers a true sense of community—all in an amenity-rich, transit-oriented location,” said Mitchell Hersh, Mack-Cali president and CEO, in a statement. Each of the planned 763 residences is designed to be energy-efficient with innovative layouts and communal amenities that appeal to flexible, urban lifestyles. When complete, the entire project will contain more than 2,300 units and retail space. The first phase of URL Harborside is expected to be complete in 2016.
Over 5,000 residential units are under construction in Jersey City and another 12,000 have been approved, according to developer Mack-Cali. Much of this development has centered around transit hubs in the city. Hollwich attributed much of this growth to the city’s decision to allow for increased density around transit hubs. “The planning department has pushed for many years now for density close to transportation,” said Hollwich. With prime land vacant around many stations in the city, he expects growth to continue.