One of Jersey City's selling points is better views of the Manhattan skyline than from Manhattan itself. From the New York shores, its plain to see that Jersey City has amassed an impressive collection of skyscrapers, too. Last week, Perkins Eastman, developer China Overseas America, and city officials officially broke ground on 99 Hudson, a 79 story condominium tower that is set to be New Jersey's tallest building. One block from the Hudson River and sited on what's now a parking lot, the 800-unit building will rise 900 feet from sea level, according to a statement from Perkins Eastman. That's 119 feet taller than the Goldman Sachs building, now the state's tallest building, three blocks away. Renderings depict a complex that occupies the full block. An eight story base with a roof garden sits to the west of the main tower, which has multiple stepped exposures to maximize water views. The development will add 7,500 square feet of public plazas and green space, as well as create ground-floor retail along three sides of its block. The project is the first large-scale condo development in more than five years, though Jersey City has seen its skyline rise dramatically over the past decade. Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop's tenure is marked by aggressive pursuit of development, including towers like these and possibly this, plus an ambitious affordable housing proposal. Jersey City, consequently, is poised to become the state's largest as early as this year.
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New York City will receive $176 million in federal funding for disaster recovery. The funding would be put towards a section of the project extending from the northern portion of Battery Park City to Montgomery Street on the Lower East Side. The money is part of $181 million in funding for recovery projects in New York and New Jersey. The funds came from the National Disaster Resilience Competition, a U.S. Department Housing and Urban Development–sponsored competition to rebuild communities affected by natural disasters, The New York Times reports. The BIG–designed East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (scaled down, but known in former incarnations as the DryLine or the BIG U) calls for sea walls, retractable flood barriers, and grass berms that would double as riverside recreation areas, opening up the waterfront to create a shoreline comparable to the recreation-rich shores of Manhattan's West Side. The East Side Coastal Resiliency Project arose from Rebuild by Design, a 2014 competition to solicit ideas for six large-scale flood protection and resiliency measures in the tristate area. Rebuild by Design awarded New York City $335 million in federal funds for the East 23rd Street to Montgomery Street section. Mayor de Blasio has committed $100 million in capital funding to the project already.
Urban planning credo states that, through design and policy interventions that improve access to public transportation, Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) reduces car dependency and encourages individuals to walk, bike, bus, or take the train to their destination. Well, maybe. A University of California, Berkley study suggest that, for rail, the T in TOD may not be necessary to reduce car travel in neighborhoods that are dense and walkable, with scarce parking. In a study of rail transit's impact on travel patterns, Daniel Chatman, associate professor in the Department of City & Regional Planning at UC Berkeley, challenged the assumption that easy access to rail leads to less reliance on cars (and subsequently lower rates of car ownership). Were there other factors at play, like narrower streets, good parking, wider sidewalks, and nearby destinations? Chatman received over 1,100 responses to a survey he sent to households living within a two-mile radius of ten New Jersey train stations, within commuting distance to Manhattan. Chatman asked residents about what type of house they lived in, on- and off-street parking availability, travel for work and leisure, residential location preferences, and household demographics. 30 percent of respondents lived in housing that was less than seven years old. Half lived within walking distance (0.4 miles) to rail, in TOD-designated and non-designated developments. Controlling for housing type, bus access, amount of parking, and population density, among other markers, the availability of on- and off-street parking, not rail access, was the key determinate in auto ownership and car dependence. The study asserts that "households with fewer than one off-street parking space per adult had 0.16 fewer vehicles per adult. Households with both low on- and off-street parking availability had 0.29 fewer vehicles per adult." Living in a new house near a train station, moreover, was correlated with a 27 percent lower rate of car ownership compared to residents further afield. Bus access was also key in determining car use. The number of bus stops within one mile of a residence is a good indicator of public transit accessibility, and there are usually more bus stops in denser areas. The study found that "doubling the number of bus stops within a mile radius around the average home was associated with 0.08 fewer vehicles per adult." Compared to areas with poor bus access and plentiful parking, car ownership was reduced by 44 percent when strong bus access converged with poor parking availability. To reduce car ownership and use, municipalities don't necessarily have to invest in rail. Reducing the availability of parking, providing better bus service, developing smaller houses (and more rentals), and creating employment centers in walkable, densely populated downtowns may accomplish the same objective, at considerably less expense.
Though the proposed 90 story resort casino with on-site yacht parking will bring many amenities to Jersey City, that development will not include a library. Perhaps in response to this shortcoming, Jersey City is bringing education out of classrooms and into public spaces with a small-scale, semi-permanent library. Architecture and development firm Jorge Mastropietro Architects Atelier (JMA) created for the Jersey City Little Free Library Competition. The New York– and Buenos Aires–based firm created a diminutive, shape-shifting outdoor book kiosk in Hamilton Park. This is one local example of over 32,000 registered Little Free Libraries worldwide (map). [En]Light is made of semi-transparent acrylic, so that books are visible from the outside but protected from the elements. Its orange aluminum casing unfolds, chrysalis-like, into benches, creating a gathering space around the project. At night, [En]Light lights up, a glowing beacon for bibliophiles (and probably moths, too). In a statement, founding principal Jorge Mastropietro explained the significance of the design: "We've emphasized the importance of the printed word in an age of digital media. To celebrate the public role of a library, it's important to build community interaction—bringing together people and knowledge in an organic way, just as the best libraries do." Little Free Library is a national movement to broaden access to books and foster enjoyment of reading. Founded in 2009, the movement is inspired by the wide-reaching philanthropy of Andrew Carnegie's public libraries, as well as the "take a book, leave a book" systems of local cafes. It's up to leaders in individual communities to establish their own book boxes; organizers can register their library with the Little Free Library website to gain recognition and support. The Little Free Library was honored last month by the Library of Congress (one of the world's largest) for its unconventional approach to building literacy.
Hurricane Sandy brought more than two feet of water inside 85 percent of homes in Union Beach, New Jersey, a low-to-middle income shoreside community south of Staten Island. In all, 315 homes (15 percent of the total housing stock) in the borough of 6,200 were damaged beyond repair, and demolished. Led by Jennifer Maier, resident and founder of the nonprofit Rebuilding Union Beach, the community built back. Rebuilding Union Beach commissioned the design and construction of flood-proof modular homes that now house 14 displaced families. The prefabricated homes, available in eight different styles, measure 950–1350 square feet, depending on the household's size. Constructed off-site, each took three to six weeks to build (excluding shipping and installation), at an average cost of $220,000 each. In tandem with homebuilding assistance, Rebuilding Union Beach helped homeowners apply for government assistance, insurance, and other storm recovery programs. These homes are reinforced to withstand another hurricane, and attendant 115 mile per hour winds. Rebuilding Union Beach touts the structures' "cement board siding, hurricane strapping, renewable and non-toxic materials, rainwater catchment, erosion-resistant planting, and solar panels." To help recovering communities in the region, the organization has shared their methods via a project guide. The project guide doubles as a process manual, sharing which interventions worked for the community and which were less successful. The guide explains, for example, that standard, three tab roof shingles have insufficient grip in high winds. Consequently, the houses were fitted with more durable, five tab shingles. The project was funded by a $770,000 grant from the Robin Hood Sandy Relief Fund and a $1.67 million grant from New Jersey First Lady Mary Pat Christie’s Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund.
Two rail tunnels connecting New Jersey to New York are the main arteries of the regional transit system. Riders usually don't need to focus on the infrastructure that carries them to their destinations—unless something goes wrong. Each day, 500,000 commuters use mass transit—Amtrak, PATH, and NJ Transit—to travel from New Jersey to New York and back. After more than one hundred years in service, the rail tunnels are rapidly deteriorating. "Tunnel Trouble," a new video released by the Regional Plan Association (RPA), warns of the dire consequences for transit on the Eastern seaboard if one of the tunnels were shut down for extensive repairs. https://vimeo.com/143811940 The daily ridership on Amtrak and NJ Transit has more than doubled, from 35,533 passengers in 1990 to 85,869 in 2013. Over the next 25 years, ridership on these lines is expected to grow more than 40 percent. Each tunnel handles inbound and outbound traffic. Typically, 24 trains pass through each tunnel each hour. The RPA states that, if one tunnel closed, only six trains per hour could pass, reducing service by 75 percent. Those with cars may chose to drive, straining an already overburdened road network. Hurricane Sandy inundated the tunnels three years ago. Saline river water corroded the concrete lining and damaged the Depression-era wiring. Today, mechanical problems in the tunnels create a chokepoint for local train traffic and delay regional Amtrak trains coming in and out of New York. The RPA makes a strong case for building two new tunnels, while the current tunnels are still operable, to forestall an immanent transportation disaster. It appears, however, that the political will is lacking. In 2010, AN covered the defeat of the ARC project, an $8.7 billion transit upgrade between the New Jersey Meadowlands and Penn Station. The ARC proposed building two new single-track tunnels to alleviate the bottleneck under the Hudson. Today, and especially after the devastation of Sandy, investing in new tunnels is key to maintaining the economic health of the region.
The Stevens Institute of Technology's SURE HOUSE has won the biennial United States Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon for 2015, beating out 13 other teams. Showcasing aesthetics, serious sustainability, and financial viability wrapped in a tiny and efficient solar house, the winning dwelling scored consistently well in all ten of the competition's categories. "SURE," a portmanteau for SUstainable and REsilient, features sustainability throughout the home's design. Using Hurricane Sandy as inspiration, the team from Stevens Institute of Technology incorporated resilient aspects into their design, allowing the building to open up during summer months and be sufficiently secured during the winter. The team expects the structure to be able to endure any coastal storms on the Jersey Shore. In terms of aesthetics, the dwelling would fit right into a book on '60s Modernist coastal flats, however, the technical side to the house tells a much different story. The roof is more than well equipped with solar paneling, making the house fully solar powered, generating 10,000 watts. Meanwhile the buildings envelope is constructed from a fiber-composite glued together over a foam core, protecting it from the elements and each layer is orientated in a perpendicular fashion to boost structural rigidity. Beachside shading devices that allow residents to enjoy the summer sun, can fold away, doubling up as storm shutters. SURE HOUSE uses 90 percent less energy than a regular dwelling. Such a feat is achieved thanks to advanced appliances like Daikin Skyair's zoned heat pump that can be used for heating, cooling, dehumidifying, and solar-electric hot water. A heat recovery and ventilation system from Zehnder Novus energy is also used, retaining building heat and preconditioning inflowing fresh air. As a nod to community, the house has been designed with an external USB charging station for community use during emergencies.
Bike sharing is a trend that is taking the country by storm of late as Jersey City, New Jersey, jumps on the biking bandwagon installing 35 docking stations for 350 bicycles. The new Jersey City bike sharing setup will work in sync New York City's system and will have the same pricing scheme. Likewise, membership to either system overlaps with the other, so bikes can be used across both cities. Docking stations have been placed near PATH stations and spread over the city and into the suburbs. In fact, nearly every neighborhood will have one. Subsequently the distances between docking locations is longer than that compared to the system in NYC. In New York, Motivate, the group behind the scheme, focused on core areas and then dispersed docking locations later on. Speaking to the Jersey Journal, Mayor Steve Fulop said, "We wanted each of the areas in the city to have access right from the start. That was a priority." Dispersing the docks so widely is a risk however, as commuters may be put off cycling the longer distances. Fulop though expressed his excitement for the system to be integrated city-wide. “It’s not very often that a city gets a completely new public transit system, a new way to enjoy the outdoors and stay active, and a new link to New York all at once, but that’s what we have today with Citi Bike,” Fulop said in a press release. “This is something that will connect every corner of the city. We have bike stations in every ward.” Part of the appeal of the biking scheme is that it doesn't require any public money for operating subsidies. Like in NYC, Citi Bike Jersey City is funded by private sponsorships and user fees. Motivate president and CEO Jay Walder said: “Thanks to Mayor Fulop’s visionary leadership and the support of terrific sponsors, the Citi Bike program is now a seamless regional transportation network improving commutes on both sides of the Hudson.”
In 2016, Jersey City’s population is set to exceed Newark’s. With an influx of newcomers, city officials have pioneered a tax incentive plan that encourages new development while actively combating segregation by income. While these goals usually conflict, officials are confident that the program, Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT), will meet the needs of all stakeholders. Introduced in 2013 by newly elected Mayor Steven M. Fulop, the plan spreads affordable and market rate housing evenly throughout the city by tying development incentives to the relative desirability of given neighborhoods. Though there's been no development under PILOT yet, as of now, new developments can qualify for the program. New Jersey property taxes are one of the nation's highest. Like most tax abatements, the objective of PILOT is to encourage economic activity by easing the developer's tax burden to incentivize denser development. The city partnered with researchers at New York University and Columbia to study the city's housing market intensively at the neighborhood level. According to Ryan Jacobs, Jersey City's Director of Communications, Jersey City operates under the philosophy that "any improvement to [the] land is a good idea." Jacobs critiqued the "tale of two cities" dichotomy that prevails in many discussions around balancing affordability and development. In Jersey City, he states that "that choice is a false choice, it's more communal than that. It's not healthy to have one part of the city that is growing and one part that isn't." PILOT divides the city into four tiers, each with a different tax incentive. Tiers 1 and 2, highly developed areas, receive property tax abatements for a shorter amount of time. Tier 1, for example, has a 10 year property tax abatement, and a mandate that 10 percent of newly constructed units be affordable housing. Tier 4, by contrast, has a 15 percent affordable housing mandate and a 30 year property tax abatement. The city wants to attract concentrated investment in Tiers 3 and 4. Consequently, these zones have longer tax abatements. Regardless of their designation, there is a mandate in each tier to build affordable housing. Jersey City adopted HUD's standards of affordable housing to encompass individuals making 80 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) and below. Tax abatements are tailored to individual neighborhoods. A special target is the revitalization of Journal Square, once the commercial heart of the city, and now a neighborhood in need of reinvestment. Currently, downtown and waterfront districts, like the 1980s New Urbanist Port Liberté, attract new residents who can afford median monthly rents greater than $2,000, while inland neighborhoods garner comparatively less investment. According to the 2010 Census, approximately 19,000 Jersey City units (29 percent) rent for greater than $1,500 per month. Port Liberté, with its canal, bike paths, and dense residential clusters, has a median household income of $100,000, compared to the citywide median of $46,813. The city intends to make the affordable housing application process as transparent as possible. Per state law, developers of market rate housing that receive tax abatements must contribute $1,500 per residential unit to the city's affordable housing fund. The fund has received $15 million dollars since 2003. These proposed developments pictured here serve as examples of projects that could be executed under PILOT. The two images at top are of a waterfront development that received an abatement (though not through PILOT). The complex is 80 percent market rate and 20 percent affordable, and the first mixed income development in that district in 30 years. On Montgomery Street, 116 new affordable units are planned (an additional 10 units will be market rate). The complex is designed by Wallace Roberts and Todd (WRT).
A team of architects will transform a 1.25-mile stretch of Asbury Park in New Jersey as part of a massive mixed-use redevelopment plan recently unveiled by iStar. The multibillion-dollar scheme includes 20 individual projects (primarily a mix of residential buildings and hotels) as well as infrastructure upgrades, and “beach-themed landscaping.” The developer says that its significant investment in the area, which was pummeled by Hurricane Sandy, will “nurture the maverick spirit and indie attitude that make Asbury Park one of the unsung capitals of cool in the United States.” Anda Andre, the former Director of Design for the Ian Schrager Company, is overseeing the project and hand-picking its designers and architects. The team includes Chad Oppenheim, Handel Architects, Madison Cox, Stonehill & Taylor, and Melillo + Bauer Associates. Three new developments are expected to to open next summer: “The Monroe,” Oppenheim’s 34-unit condominium building; 1101 Ocean, a glassy hotel, condominium, and retail project by Handel Architects; and the Asbury, a 110-key hotel in a former Salvation Army building that was repurposed by Stonehill & Taylor. The full build out of the development includes 2,100 residences and 300 hotel rooms.
Next up in a series of demolitions in the historic Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital campus: the Kirkbride
The New Jersey Treasury Department has levied the wrecking ball on the iconic Kirkbride building of the historic Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital. Demolition began on April 6, with heavy-equipment operators from Northstar Contracting targeting 26 structures on the campus as part of a $34.4 million contract from the state of New Jersey. The latest to go is the 673,000-square-foot, 19th-century landmark which, like most of the buildings in the complex, had dangerously deteriorated. Greystone was built in 1876 as part of a national initiative to improve medical treatment for the mentally ill. At its peak, the hospital housed over 5000 patients. However, the neglected facility deteriorated over the last 50 years and was replaced with a new Greystone Hospital next door in 2007. USA Today reported that Randolph resident and drone pilot Jody Johnson has been documenting the demolition on her DJI Phantom 3 Pro drone. She posts the videos to YouTube, Instagram and Facebook to keep residents abreast of the otherwise fenced-in takedown. “Of course, it’s upsetting to see the footprint of the building slowly fading away,” she said. “[People] say it’s terrible to see it coming down. They are concerned about the environmental impact.” Nonprofit group Preserve Greystone has rallied doggedly for conservation of the 26 buildings and their connecting tunnels, the removal of which requires thorough extraction of toxic substances such as lead paint, asbestos, and mold. Once the demolition is over, the remaining 165 acres of Greystone will be bequeathed to Morris County in order to be preserved as open space. Although all tangible traces of the Kirkbride will be gone, the New Jersey Treasury Department is planning to document and preserve the history through a dedicated website, documentation and on-site interpretive signage. “All the markers and websites in the world won’t undo what they’ve done,” retorted John Huebner, president of Preserve Greystone. The Treasury is also working with the Morris County Park Commission to save physical mementos of Kirkbride, including two marble columns from the front of the building and two cast-iron light poles, according to USA Today.
Once a week, Richard Meier can be found at his model museum in the expansive Mana Contemporary arts complex in Jersey City. This is where he comes to work on collages, collaborate with screenprinter Gary Lichtenstein, and visit with his daughter Ana, who runs a furniture showroom next door. https://vimeo.com/131434676 The 15,000-square-foot Richard Meier Model Museum is filled with some 300 models of the architect’s work—from the Getty Museum in Los Angeles to his proposal for the World Trade Center site in Manhattan. The museum also includes exhibition space for Meier’s sculptural work and a library with 1,000 books and magazines from his personal collection. The Architect’s Newspaper recently toured Mana Contemporary (a former tobacco factory) with its founder and director Eugene Lemay, and sat down with Meier himself to learn about the model museum and how his design process has changed over the years. More from our conversation with the architect is posted below. AN: Describe your typical day at the model museum. Richard Meier: First I have some coffee and sometimes I read the newspaper and then I start working on collages. I come out here—it’s nice and peaceful and quiet. It is very different from working in the office. Next door is Gary Lichtenstein’s studio—he is a print maker—and I make prints with Gary. We do things together that would not be possible if we did not have this space. Today, so much of architecture and design work happens on computers. To you, what is the importance of craftsmanship, drawing, and model making in a digital age? One augments the other. All of our drawings are done on a computer, but that does not mean that models are not also helpful. We continue to make models of every project as part of the process. What do you hope to do next? If I had my druthers, I would do more things in New York. It is a lot easier to get together, to meet, to talk about what we are doing. But today things happen and you never know where the next project might be coming from. Anything else people should know about the model museum or Mana Contemporary? It is an amazing sort of area. Within the building, there is a dance company, there are other artists, it is sort of a place to visit in the same way people visit galleries in SoHo or Chelsea. It is nice and quiet, and for me just a great place to work outside of the office. I can do things here that I would not be able to do in the office.