No. 211 along Garden Street in the heart of Hoboken is a slender, single-family townhouse whose curb appeal is way more than meets the eye, but 211 Garden Street was not always in immaculate condition and is the culmination of a collaborative renovation effort.
Previously divided as a three-family and purchased shortly before Hurricane Sandy, the homeowners’ plan was to renovate the lower level for use as a rental. Post-Sandy, however, the City of Hoboken restricted that use, changing its requirements for minimum clearance due to flooding concerns. The new regulation rendered 25 percent of the building unrentable and the homeowners rethought their strategy, repositioning the townhouse as their dream home rather than an income-generating investment.
Enter: Agencie, a New York City-based design studio and collaborative of highly skilled architects, structural engineers, and builders. “We designed, engineered, and constructed the building as part of a small group of townhouse projects,” Andrés Ulises Cortés, Architect and Agencie Partner told Jersey Digs. “The clients are extremely savvy, smart, and have great taste, so it was one of our most pleasurable experiences.”
211 Garden Street was converted to a single-family and a brand new rear facade resulted in a four-story addition, nearly doubling the total square footage — a luxury belied by the beautiful but skinny front facade.
The front facade itself was unfortunately in very bad shape. Even bulging in some spots, a restoration subcontractor repaired the damage and ZHI Restoration, well-known across Hudson County for their work, completed the facade refinishing. And to reintroduce some history to the home, the grand wood front door was purchased and customized by Amighini Architectural.
Beyond the facade, the ironwork that traditionally sets a townhouse apart from the sidewalk and provides stately support for the stoop had to be reimagined. Working very closely with All Iron Works on an architectural metals package, the exterior was transformed into an elegant enclosure with ornate railings. “Peter [of All Iron Works] is an amazing craftsperson,” said Mr. Cortés. “He is extremely knowledgeable about different product categories and just plain passionate about the stuff.”
Few original details remained inside, but what relics there were have been preserved. The magnificent white marble fireplace mantel was carefully disassembled, moved just a few feet east to be centered in the dining room, and then carefully reassembled. Complemented by hardwood floors, crown molding, and a plaster medallion securing a crystal chandelier to the ceiling, the look is breathtaking.
And in a brilliant turn at the front door, old timber joists were adapted to separate the entrance from the parlor. “Typically you enter into a vestibule which then discharges head-on into the space,” explained Mr. Cortés. “In this project, there is no vestibule, and you have to turn left to enter the home. The screen adds a nice marker for the entry area.”
One of the real showpieces of the renovation is the kitchen. Clean and modern with a contemporary mix of materials, no detail was too minute for the homeowners who are excellent at-home chefs. A remote fan installed on the roof ensures complete ventilation of cooking smells and the kitchen millwork is even outfitted with helpful gadgetry. Produced by Lisa Alt of Real Fine Woodwork, she is one of the few female millworkers in the area. “Lisa is a wizard when it comes to kitchens, and we have collaborated on dozens of kitchens through the years,” said Mr. Cortés.
Additional and certainly cool new features of the home include a skylight in the master bathroom, a custom staircase, and a gas fireplace, as well as a high-efficiency HVAC system and floodproofing on the basement level. And it almost goes without saying that the value of the initial investment has soared.
Agencie has worked on design plus build projects since 2004 and also offers design services separate from construction, leveraging their excellent relationships with numerous contractors in New Jersey and New York.