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LeFrak Responds to Demand for Hudson Bay Waterfront Development


Rendering of LeFrak's 43-story building in Newport, Jersey City. Credit: Arquitectonica

Waterfront homes along Hudson Bay are in great demand, but rules pertaining to post-Sandy development create challenges. Overcoming these obstacles, LeFrak is developing its tallest privately owned condominium unit building, designed by Arquitectonica.

Over the past 30-some years, the LeFrak family has transformed a 300-acre rail yard along the New Jersey Hudson River waterfront. Today, this community, known as Newport, thrives with office buildings, stores, and beautiful apartment towers. Now LeFrak is starting on its latest venture.

Breaking Ground

Now that ground has been broken, the construction phase can begin. LeFrak anticipates strong demand for the apartment units, which will boast magnificent views of the water from three sides. However, to be compliant with regulations that were passed following Hurricane Sandy, the site had to be upgraded.

In following Federal requirements, LeFrak had to push the first floor up from 10.6 feet to 13 feet. To accomplish this, 50,000 tons of dirt was imported to the development site on the peninsula, increasing the cost of construction by about 2 percent. To satisfy unbelievable demand for downtown waterfront living while staying in compliance for environmental and flooding issues, developers all over the country are becoming more innovative.

San Francisco, New York, Boston, and Baltimore, where thousands of new apartments are being added on reclaimed land and piers, are prime examples. Included are Baltimore’s Waterfront at Canton Crossing and Boston’s Clippership Wharf. Pier 70 is a San Francisco development spread over 70 acres and just under 5 miles from the popular tourist attraction of Fisherman’s Wharf.

Environmental Challenges

In addition to forging ahead in the quest for new space in places where major environmental challenges exist, developers are forced to deal with new regulations specific to hurricanes. As stated by Mitchell Korbey, chairman of the land use and zoning group with the Herrick Feinstein law firm, people love living near the water, and although Sandy was devastating, it had no real impact on this desire. As regulatory agencies become more sensitive, the cost of construction increases.

When it comes to empty nesters and young professionals, downtown waterfront lifestyles are growing, and at a higher price. According to developers, the hassles of construction are worth the premium prices for waterfront property.

According to regulations, once the new Ellipse tower is complete, the community must have access to the water. Another challenge has to do with views in that just last year, LeFrak paid $5 million to owners of units in a Newport condominium because one of its towers blocked water views. Therefore, with this new structure, promotion will be somewhat tricky.

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