University Place Moves Full Steam Ahead While Bayfront Languishes

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jersey city university place development rendering 3
Rendering Credit: Marchetto Higgins Stieve

As reported recently, the area of Jersey City’s west side along the Hackensack River known as Bayfront has been mired in cleanup, controversy, and leadership quicksand–no one has emerged as a front-runner to advance the development beyond the rendering stage. However, directly across Route 440, another development is well underway and already bringing to this neighborhood what Bayfront up to now has only proposed.

University Place is a $400 million, 22-acre development with four mixed-use projects in the works as well as a new ShopRite, parking garage, and housing for New Jersey City University (NJCU) students.

njcu university place development site plan
University Place site plan | Courtesy of Strategic Development Group

The first mixed-use building, developed by Claremont Companies, is about to top out, bringing 163 rental units and 12,000 square feet of retail to market. Leasing is slated to begin next year for May 2018 move-ins. Claremont Companies’ second mixed-use building will break ground in April 2018.

GRID Real Estate was tapped to market the first phase of retail space at the project. Available is over 10,000 square feet of space including a restaurant opportunity that will sit at the gateway of University Place. “With very little options to choose from on the west side of Jersey City, University Place’s restaurant’s will cater to the university along with the outside public who now have to hop in their car and head downtown to grab a bite to eat.” Said Bobby Antonicello Jr. of GRID Real Estate.

KKF University Enterprises is developing the other two mixed-use buildings, set to break ground in August of this year and December 2018. The four buildings will total 630 luxury rental apartments and 30,000 square feet of retail space. The developments have been staggered to minimize leasing competition.

shoprite jersey city west side university place
Rendering Credit: Studio Hillier

The new ShopRite will be 70,000 square feet and 1,000 vehicles will be able to park in the new parking garage. The new dorm for NJCU has been up and running since August 2016 and houses 430 students. And the entire development is built around a tree-lined, brick-paved boulevard, anchored by a public plaza with enough space to host outdoor performances. New Jersey City University’s new Center for Music, Dance, and Theater also plans to build its home here, possibly opening as early as 2019.

Like Bayfront, University Place’s parcel of land on the east side of Route 440, bounded by West Side Avenue, was also owned by Honeywell whose predecessor contaminated the soil to the point of mandatory remediation which was completed years ago.

Unlike Bayfront, what was called the West Campus of New Jersey City University was reimagined, redeveloped, and rebranded as University Place at a breakneck pace. Mr. Anthony Bastardi, CEO of Strategic Development Group, calls this project his passion for the last three years, wanting to develop a “place, in the urban planning sense, where people live, work, and play.”

jersey city university place development rendering
Rendering courtesy of Strategic Development Group

Involving the community, NJCU, Jersey City officials, and professional experts as key stakeholders from the very beginning certainly helped to drive the project forward. “University Place was imagined, embraced, and contracted all in one year,” said Mr. Bastardi. Incredibly, all development up to this point, from concept to construction, has taken only three years.

University Place Boulevard is nearly complete and landscaped while surrounding roads are also being built. Mr. Bastardi estimates that one year from now, in the summer of 2018, “all the roads will be in, 160 families will have moved into the first building where there will be a restaurant for us to have lunch, and three more buildings will be under construction.”

University Place will activate 1,080 permanent jobs and $12 million in state and local taxes annually. Plus the 30-year PILOT negotiated with Jersey City will result in $93 million in payments to Jersey City.

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