Tag Archives: Ft Lee

Manhattan real estate will continue to hamper New Jersey housing recovery

As a by-product of Manhattan real estate market, what happens in the city usually at some point spills over to the northern New Jersey market. When Manhattan real estate does well New Jersey prospers.  Conversely when Manhattan hits the skids as it did when the market crashes in 2008, the New Jersey market tanks. This is usually how it goes in New Jersey…”usually” being the key word.

We’re still waiting for this to happen in New Jersey…and we’ve been impatiently waiting for years and there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.  And worse, there’s more bad news for us to the west of the city.  Why has the New York City real estate prospered so much while the Bergen County, New Jersey market (except for new rental projects) still languishes after so many years.

The Modern…new ultra luxury glass residential tower in Fort Lee, New jersey

Here are a few reasons:

As a recent New York Times article points out…

Real Estate in Manhattan Set Records in 2014…

It was a banner year for Manhattan real estate. In 2014, buoyed by sales of ultraluxury apartments in new developments, the real estate market rebounded to surpass its previous peak, reached in 2008, when the financial crisis hit, according to Jonathan J. Miller, the president of the appraisal firm Miller Samuel.

The average sales price reached a new high of $1,718,530 last year, surpassing the record set in 2008, when the average sales price for the year was $1,591,823, according to Mr. Miller, the author of a report for Douglas Elliman Real Estate.

Big-ticket closings also helped the average price per square foot climb to a record $1,297 for the year, above the previous high of $1,251 per square foot in 2008.

The median apartment price, which measures the middle of the market and is less affected by high-end sales, was $940,000 in 2014, just behind the record of $955,000 set in 2008, according to Miller Samuel.

The better the market is in New York City the worse it seems to be for the suburbs 

“It was an extremely strong year,” said Sofia Song, the head of research at Urban Compass, which reported record dollar volume in the fourth quarter of 2014 with approximately $5.4 billion in closed deals. “Properties were being snapped up faster and at higher closing prices than the 2008 market peak.”

This is what’s happening with the housing market in Bergen County:

  • Single family home sales decreased 6% in 2014…decrease of 368 homes on a sales volume of 5564 homes
  • Multi-family home sales decreased 3%…decrease of 88 units on a volume of 2655 units

And this is what’s happening with the Manhattan housing market:

Dottie Herman, the chief executive of Douglas Elliman, reported half of all apartments in the fourth quarter sold at or above list prices, the highest percentage in six years.

Pamela Liebman, the chief executive of the Corcoran Group. “And there’s really no sign of things slowing down.”

The number of contracts signed in the fourth quarter, 3,216, was the highest since the fourth quarter of 2006, when 3,246 were signed, according to the Corcoran Group. Co-ops accounted for 58 percent of signed contracts this quarter, the highest co-op market share since the third quarter of 2009.

And the real killer…”at least twice as many new condominium units are scheduled to hit the Manhattan market this year as in 2014, the most since 2007, leading some real estate watchers to predict a tempering of price growth and slower pace of sales. “It is anticipated that the market will likely see a price adjustment,” in the first quarter of 2015, Urban Compass stated in its report.

All of this points to problems for a New Jersey real estate recovery:

  • If prices in Manhattan stabilize or even decrease fewer city lovers will be inclined to make the exodus out of the State.  Even with the super quick inflation, city residents haven’t fled in mass numbers to the much cheaper burbs…at least not to the single family market
  • As long as people continue to invest in new ultra luxury condos in the city the New Jersey ultra-luxury market will continue its downward spiral
  • And the real kicker is that with all of the new rental buildings being built along the New Jersey waterfront with their amazing designs and amenities and sexy locations, this has become huge competition for homes that are for sale, and will surely take a major bite out of the sales numbers…and prices.

Example:  The Modern…Fort Lee, New Jersey

As just published in the New York Post…

Fort Lee is the new New Jersey

The New York Post tells the story of The Modern in Fort Lee, New Jersey…the areas newest and most spectacular ultra luxury rental building, and why people are attracted to this iconic new 40 story building.  And this is just the tip of the iceberg for what is to come of the real estate market along the Hudson River waterfront in New Jersey.

Those of us who have followed Steve Pozycki over the years will understand why no one will ever duplicate the design and quality of The Modern in New Jersey…unless of course he decides to build another building. SJP also duplicates this incredible attention to detail in their new 500,000sf Waterfront Corporate Center 3 on the Hoboken waterfront.

Fort Lee luxury tower reflects housing rebound

The Modern…website

NJBIZ Power 50: #5 Steven J. Pozycki — SJP Properties

SJP Properties inks lease with e-commerce startup Jet.com at new Hoboken building

SJP Properties, Thomson Reuters ink major expansion deal in Hoboken

Also see:

And this is only one developer and one residential rental project in New Jersey.

How can the suburban real estate market withstand the competition from so many new rental buildings. It’s a case of the new vs the old. Guess who’s going to win?

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Northern New Jersey luxury market getting clobbered by NYC luxury sales

Why is New York City having a banner year(s) selling incredibly expensive ultra luxury homes (and everything else for that matter), and Bergen County, New Jersey is having another only soso year…and a another horrible year for the ultra expensive end of the market.

Usually when NYC condo sales and prices skyrocket, and rents increase, buyers start flocking out of the city to the New York suburbs. Bergen County has always reeled in a huge portion of the exodus….but that’s not happening now.

The Iconic New York by Gehry building

Sales of ultra luxury homes in Bergen County are down 47% in 2012, and 2010-2011 wasn’t any better. But sales  of ultra luxury units (trophy properties) in Manhattan have been booming the past several years.

The New York Times reported that Kiefer Sutherland recently sold NYC his townhome for $17+ million, which is just a drop in the bucket compared to all of the trophy sales that have been happening north of $50 million.  Yet in the affluent New Jersey suburbs, the high end of the market is gasping for air.

Even luxury home sales in the Hampton have hit the breaks.

The end effect, is that the NYC housing market is further killing the suburban market…and the effects are painful for the suburbs.  A lack of buyers leaving NYC coupled with an incredible number of rentals in the planning stages, and already under construction will make things  even more painful for areas on the other side of the Hudson River.

All these new rental projects in Jersey City, Hoboken, Edgewater and Fort Lee, and in NYC will have a devastating effect on suburban home sales.

Looking ahead, if the suburbs don’t learn real fast how to compete for buyers, then they’ll start failing.  And it will happen fast:

  • Downtown’s are already failing
  • taxes are rising and home prices aren’t
  • the market above $1 million is hurting
  • Very few single family homes are being built
  • The suburban office market isn’t recovering

These aren’t good signs. And there’s nothing pointing to things getting any better in the future.

More on this later.

Check out the Kiefer Sutherland article…Big Ticket: Sold for $17.5 million

Also check out…New York By Gehry

Fort Lee grappled with future development for 20 years. Revitalizing the area will now begin

I don’t understand the purpose of a recent post on northjersey.com titled….Fort Lee grapples with questions on future development.

Two projects…The Center at Fort Lee received approvals a few months ago, and Hudson Lights was just approved a few days ago…are a culmination of grappling with a problem for 20 years.

This article makes it as though this grappling is in its infant stage, when in fact it’s not.

The future plans for development in Fort Lee are finally in place, and the only question is, when will these projects be started and when will they be completed, so the community can start seeing the benefits from all the new traffic that will come into the area.

Fort Lee’s Hudson Lights can have huge positive impact for area retail

The creation of Hudson Lights and  The Center at Fort Lee are two very crucial projects to Fort Lee and to all of the surrounding communities

Business district near Hudson Lights

In a June 4th 2012 article on northjersey titled….Fort Lee development will improve “tired” downtown, mayor says…Ft Lee’s Mayor Sokolich stated that the special improvement district was created to clean up “a tired downtown” which would in turn help current shop owners in the town.

And he’s correct in his thinking.  However, a lot more needs to be done for this to be a success for store owners who have been in Ft Lee for years, or decades.

The problem facing Ft Lee’s downtown isn’t unlike the problems facing every downtown area in our region:

  • there’s tremendous competition from shopping centers,
  • competition from the internet where it’s easy to shop for deals…and for current merchandise,
  • a large percentage of downtown stores fail after a year or two because they don’t carry products that most people want
  • most downtown stores are poorly marketed, if they’re marketed at all
  • most stores carry outdated merchandise
  • most stores and their storefront windows are ugly and are uninviting to passersby

So to think that the creation of Hudson Lights and The Center at Fort Lee, will bring instant prosperity to shop owners is highly unlikely.  The developers  and the town are not responsible for making these businesses successful, so expensive overhead crosswalks aren’t the answer.  If these shop owners have something worthwhile to walk to, then people will cross the street to get there.

This doesn’t mean that it can’t happen.  But it rests solely on the shoulders of the owners themselves.

These two projects can’t make everyone successful, unless the store owners and landlords make that happen.

And here’s how it can happen:

  • If you carry merchandise or supply services that people want they will seek you out
  • store owners need to update their business models so they can compete and draw customers
  • update your storefronts so they look as appealing as a new modern store
  • learn to market yourselves on blogs, twitter, and through local newspapers
  • To an extent you’re going to have to compete on price, so you better do it
  • your merchandise has to be what people are looking for
  • create delivery services for whatever you sell, so it becomes easier for the apartment renters to buy your products
  • landlords have to update their buildings, because if they remain ugly and the current stores fail, then it’s going to be that much harder, or impossible to re-lease the space without offering steep discounts
  • create new signage that compete with the new projects
  • learn to draw from the traffic that the new retailers will be spending tons of money on to create

Unfortunately some of the existing stores will fail.  But if you look at their balance sheets at this time they’ve probably been on life support for years, and it was only a matter of pride why the plug wasn’t pulled years before.

These projects will bring in a tremendous amount of new traffic to this area, and retailers need to learn how to grab the attention of those people.  If you don’t know how to compete in a modern local economy, your business will fail.  And you will only have yourself to blame.

There are dozens of ways to compete and to increase your local business…retailers just need to step out of their comfort zone and learn how to create success, because it won’t happen by accident, or because of an increase in traffice.

In anticipation of a huge influx of new potential business, start your social media marketing now, and start updating your stores and merchandise.  The existing stores have an advantage over new stores, because these stores are already part of the community, so use that yo your advantage.

Play to compete.

Social media can be your key to success.

Let me know what you think.

Ft. Lee’s Hudson Lights inches closer to approval

Fort Lee Planning Board hears more on Hudson Lights project

Via northjersey.com

Representatives of the Hudson Lights at Fort Lee development project attempted to quell concerns from Planning Board officials on May 14, reassuring them that architectural and environmental issues on the site will not delay construction.

What amazes me after all the time that was put into the planning process for the new Hudson Lights project, is that there are still unanswered questions from either side.  Why haven’t all the major issues been resolved at this point?  It’s not like this is the first time the Planning Board has seen the plans. Id be willing to be that everything has been reviewed and re-reviewed at great length by both parties.

Everyone has known what the size and scope of the project is for quite s0me time, and I can’t believe that this is the first time that a rendering has been presented to the Board.

So why all the questions…now?  Could it be posturing by either side?

Testimony as to what the storefronts on Lemoine would look like drew a confused response from the Planning Board, prompting member Don Porrino to question whether the panel was rushing through the reviewing process.

“There are so many unanswered questions on this application,” he said. “There seems to be a lot of first-time presentations here.”

“I don’t think any of the environmental issues should hold up construction,” said McAndrew. “Soil can be remediated right now; groundwater is also being remediated right now.”

It’s real simple…

  • if there’s not enough parking spots, then either create more or reduce the size of the project
  • if a traffic light is needed then add one.  And if you don’t know if there’s a need then make provisions if one needs to be added
  • at this point in time there should be no confusion as to what the storefronts will look like.  No matter what it looks like, it will be more attractive than anything else in Ft Lee.  Towns can’t dictate beauty…though they try
  • no matter happens here there will be additional traffic on Lemoine.  The developers can’t fool themselves here because if it doesn’t work then the project will be a failure and they lose out big time financially
  • the project will be a boost to the town
  • and without Harbor Lights, the other project (twin rental towers…900 rentals) that was just approved could end up a failure

It’s unfortunate that the two projects weren’t part of a combined approval, because if something does go wrong the blame will go to one project or the other…when it will really be the fault of both.

The developer and the Planning Board need to deal with the outstanding issues, which I assume they already have, and move this project to a vote…so it doesn’t drag on.  2o years is a long time.

Hudson Lights and twin towers project in Ft Lee are becoming a reality

The proposed Hudson Lights project and the already approved “yet to be named” twin towers: A view from space

The two new projects that will be started in Ft Lee this year offer some exciting opportunities for the surrounding communities. Yes it’s going to be a bit of a pain while the construction is taking place, but once everything is completed everyone (even in Tenafly) will benefit from this enhancement:

  • The eyesore that we’ve all lived with for 20+ years will now become an iconic looking project.  No one can deny that that this isn’t an amazing upgrade for Ft Lee and all of New Jersey
  • If they’re smart, and upgrade their businesses, the area retails will have an influx of people to fill their stores. And if they don’t take advantage of this opportunity, they have no one else to blame but themselves
  • The area restaurants will see a boom in their business…the delivery business should go wild.  And this isn’t just for Ft Lee…this is going to benefit the entire area
  • 1500+- new apartments will be filled with people (2000-3000 people?) from all over the region and these people will shop and dine here
  • New retail creates better existing retail…only if they have what people are looking for.  And now the retailers will have to compete with the new project, so it’s not going to be a guarantee.  They will have to work it if they want to be successful
  • New employment opportunities will exist.  This is a huge plus
  • Contrary to popular opinion…traffic patterns and timing should actually get better because of the proposed upgrades
  • The residential rental business will boom for everyone…not just for the new projects

There will defiantly be some bumps in the road (no pun intended) throughout the construction process, but that’s to be expected. Just get these projects underway and completed as soon as humanly possible, so we can all start enjoying the benefits.

Suburbia needs more projects like this.

Here are a few satellite shots of the area, via bing and google earth.  Now you’ll see why this is such a valuable location

Yes, I’ve developed a lot of real estate projects in my career, and I love seeing progress.  And why shouldn’t the suburbs start benefiting from what it has to offer.  Politics aside, these projects are needed for a multitude of reasons.  Whether or not the original developers make money or not, the community as a whole will benefit for decades to come.  And that’s what really matters here.

Hudson Lights, Ft Lee’s new shining star?

As an update to the Ft Lee Hudson Lights mega project that is being proposed, I came across an article on northjersey.com…..Ft Lee Mayor calls summer start for project “ambitious”

What is the reason for the Mayor to now NOT be “ambitious” about the developer wanting to start the project ASAP?

I’ve worked on a number of mega projects, and the idea is to get our approvals, then start the project right away, because as we have seen in the past, time is not always on the side side of developers and consumers…so the speed in which a project gets started and completed is critical.

Who in their right mind would want to start a project in the winter as apposed to starting it in the summer, and what’s even worse is the thought of pending increases in interest rates, that would cost developers many millions of dollars for something that only benefits the banks.

The sooner a project is completed the better it is for the town and its residents and business owners.

The planning Board wants the project, as do a majority of the residents, so the town should expedite the process and give them their approvals as soon as possible.  And to speed things up even more, the building department could start their review of the plans, so as to not waste even more time after the final approvals are given.

At this point the town shouldn’t look for reasons NOT to move this along.

The object for the town should be to get Hudson Lights done so the tax dollars start rolling in.

Isn’t that the reason they wanted this project in the first place?

For a project that has been in the works for 20 years, the town should applaud ambitious!

Is anyone curious what this combined project will do to the existing rental market…in the region?

I am

Tax revenue is big motivator for new Ft Lee mega projects

Developer wants ‘boulevard feel” at Ft Lee site

Article from northjersey.com

FORT LEE – An Illinois-based developer told the Planning Board on Monday night that it wants to create a “boulevard feel” on the western half of a $1 billion mixed-use project south of the George Washington Bridge, balancing the needs of motorists and pedestrians.

“If you build it, they will come,” said Charles Olivo, a traffic engineer hired by Tucker Development Corp., referring to pedestrian-friendly streetscapes. “If you don’t, they will use cars.”

Tucker Development Corp. is seeking final site plan approval to build Hudson Lights, which would feature 165,000 to 178,000 square feet of commercial space – for about 20 stores and three or four restaurants – as well as 477 residential units, a 175-room hotel and parking for more than 1,200 cars. It also has asked the Planning Board to grant a number of sign variances, which it says would help attract higher-end retailers.

If it is approved, the development would rise in the shadow of a pair of 47-story luxury residential high-rises — the tallest buildings in Bergen County — which the Planning Board approved in March. The towers are the centerpiece of the eastern half of the development, known as The Center at Fort Lee, which also will include a restaurant, a snack kiosk, a museum, a movie theater and a 1.75-acre park.

Tucker Development’s plans for the western half of the development also call for three traffic lights within approximately 600 feet of each other on Lemoine Avenue, one of the borough’s busiest thoroughfares. But members of the Planning Board said Monday that the lights would impede traffic flow and likely would be a bigger benefit to the developer than to the borough.

In response, Richard Tucker, president and chief executive officer of Tucker Development, said traffic mitigation plans would not be implemented if they are shown to not make sense.

“Absolutely, it is our intention to make sure that traffic flows,” said “At the end of the day, if it doesn’t work, it won’t be built.”

In addition to discussions about traffic flow, Olivo said the 1,245 parking spaces proposed within the development would be sufficient, accounting for the likelihood that shoppers would use the spaces during the day while hotel guests would seek parking at night.

“We’re simply overlaying and stacking parking requirements on top of each other,” Olivo said. “There would be adequate capacity during your peak hours.”

About 35 members of the public gathered Monday for the second of four public hearings to discuss plans for the western half of a $1 billion downtown mixed-use project.

The two projects make up a 16-acre zone south of the George Washington Bridge – bounded by Bruce Reynolds Boulevard, Center Avenue, Main Street and Lemoine Avenue – and are slated to be built over three years.

Supporters of the project, including Mayor Mark Sokolich, the Greater Fort Lee Chamber of Commerce and many local business owners, say they look forward to seeing Fort Lee’s downtown flourish once again and point to the millions in tax dollars that the project is anticipated to generate annually for the local and regional economy.

But many residents say the 47-story towers are an eyesore and a target for terrorists. They also worry that existing traffic and parking woes will only worsen.

A traffic study commissioned for Tucker found that the project would generate an estimated 560 to 1,200 car trips during the evening peak hour on weekdays and 800 to 1,540 trips during Saturday peak time. The lower ranges take into account the possibility that some residents and shoppers will use mass transit among other factors.

The meeting ended before members of the public could ask questions of the traffic engineer. The hearing will continue at 7:30 p.m. May 14 at the Jack Alter Community Center, 1355 Inwood Terrace.

Let us know what you think abut the project and the effects it will have on the town for traffic, and for the existing local businesses.

2-47 story residential towers approved in Ft Lee

WOW!  I missed this until just now.

On Monday the Ft Lee Planning Board in just a few sessions, approved the construction of two yet to be named, 47 story residential rental towers that will be built a stones throw away from the GW Bridge.

This site will basically kill the local condo market, that has already been bleeding for years.  Why buy a condo in an older building where values are uncertain, when you can rent a unit in a new incredibly beautiful tower that will be the “go to” buildings for years to come.

Time will tell if my views pan out

Read the story on northjersey

Twin Ft Lee residential towers getting closer to reality

Mirror mirror on the wall…I mean on the walls of two 498-foot residential towers being proposed in Ft Lee. Are causing quite a stir.

Two towering structures clad in mirrors was the hot topic of conversation at the last Planning Board meeting.  As written about on northjersey.com

The design feature has prompted criticism from residents worried about the potential safety hazard this may pose to drivers and pedestrians.

Residents are rightfully concerned, the experts tried their best to negate them:

“The glare that results from the sun will never be more intense than the sunlight itself,” said Somerlot, explaining that the building will absorb a large portion of the energy and transmit it inside the structure.

And this comment from the experts has nothing to do with the approval process, but does bring up the question that if so much energy is bring absorbed by the building interiors, will the HVAC systems be equipped to handle such extreme conditions.

Though this glass will have “moderate” reflectivity, the positive tradeoff will be in thermal performance, which usually decreases with less reflective glass.

The glass type used is comparable to that of Times Square Plaza, Trump SoHo Tower and the new 7 World Trade Center in New York, all high-rises Somerlot also worked on. There have been no complaints about glare issues from the buildings so far, he said.

There’s an easy solution to see if in fact the architects are correct about their design preferences: Since they referenced some comparison buildings that they designed which are similar, then maybe it’s a smart idea for the Planning board to take a tour of these projects…so they can see it in action for themselves.  And the town residents who are concerned should do the same.  Go across the rive and see for yourself

Despite some questions about the transparency of the glass and the nature of the glare when coupled with the Hudson River, residents repeatedly drove the conversation back to the ongoing traffic dilemma.

Links to more articles about this project on EatingRealEstate…northjersey.com and FortLeePatch

Land Use Expert Projects Modest Impact on Population, Public Schools

Two 47-story residential towers proposed in Fort Lee

Developer wants to speak at sixth Fort Lee hearing for towers

Two new Ft Lee residential towers are about to become a reality…after 4 decades