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Harrison: Buzzing with Evolution

The July/August issue of INDUSTRY magazine features Ironstate Development and its various projects in Harrison, NJ.


Creating “modern urbanism” communities where factories and warehouses once stood is a hallmark of a development firm whose latest endeavor is attracting new life to Harrison

When completed, the seven-building mixed-use development rising adjacent to the PATH Station in Harrison will feature six buildings of 2,250 luxury residences and 80,000 square feet of retail space, and already features an Element Hotel with a retail concourse on a 27-acre site. Developed by Ironstate Development and The Pegasus Group, Harrison Station’s estimated total cost is $750 million.

Harrison, in Hudson County along the Passaic River, gained national recognition when visiting President William Howard Taft declared it a “Beehive of Industry,” a motto that stuck. Ironstate recognized the town’s assets, including a new soccer arena (home to Major League Soccer’s Red Bulls) and a vibrant multicultural community. What the town lacked was a modern, enticing residential/lifestyle component that would appeal to today’s urban tastes.

Ironstate’s ambitious development is based on the principles of New Urbanism, which combines residential units, retail, a hotel, pedestrian-friendly thoroughfares, and a progressive yet historically respectful design. The Harrison Station site had long been home to industry and warehouses. As directed by the community’s Waterfront Redevelopment Plan, the project provides a modern transit-oriented development that emphasizes environmental responsibility and community connectivity. Minno & Wasko Architects and Planners, based in Lambertville, was hired to provide the desired structural aesthetic for the residential aspects, and has completed other successful residential, commercial, mixed-use, and hotel projects, including the Bungalow Hotel and Le Club Avenue restaurant in Long Branch and 100 Marketplace in Bernards Township.



Jersey Sure! No longer is Newark’s shadow, Harrison embraces big-time development

NY Post site logoVia Adam Bonislawski/New York Post

According to Mayor James Fife, Harrison, NJ, once held the state record for the most liquor licenses issued in a square mile. Today Harrison seems to be gunning for the title in a new category — building permits.

There’s a construction boom underway in this town, tucked into a bend of the Passaic River across from Newark.

Roughly 8,000 new residential units are slated to come to market in Harrison over the next decade, Fife says — this in a city with a population of just under 14,000. Add to that the opening four years ago of Red Bull Arena here — a 25,000-capacity stadium that serves as the home of Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls — plus a planned $256 million modernization of the Harrison PATH station, and you have a town on the make.

And what else accounts for its soaring appeal? As the old real estate saw would have it, location, location, location.

Elaine Lau, with daughter Violet, moved with her husband, Jonathan Proman, to the new Harrison Station complex, which will ultimately have 2,250 residences. Photo: Jennifer Brown for the New York Post

Elaine Lau, with daughter Violet, moved with her husband, Jonathan Proman, to the new Harrison Station complex, which will ultimately have 2,250 residences. Photo: Jennifer Brown for the New York Post

“Location is first and foremost,” says Michael Barry, president of Ironstate Development, which, with The Pegasus Group, is currently constructing their multi-phase, mixed-use Harrison Station development next to the Harrison PATH station.

Thus far, the partners have completed a 275-unit rental building — with studios from $1,460, one-bedrooms from $1,820, two-bedrooms from $2,155 — and are currently putting up a 329-unit rental building scheduled to open next year. They also last month opened a 138-room Element by Westin hotel as part of the project. When completed, the Harrison Station complex will comprise seven buildings, 2,250 residences and 80,000 square feet of retail space.

“Harrison is located on the PATH train, and that gives you direct access to Jersey City, New York City and Newark,” Barry says. “So essentially from the [town’s] redevelopment area, you’re less than five minutes into Newark, about a 10- to 12-minute ride into Jersey City, and about a 20-minute ride into New York City.”


Just Outside the City, and Building Bedrooms



via RONDA KAYSEN/ The New York Times

HARRISON, N.J. — Sitting in his office, surrounded by Halloween kitsch and posters of building designs, the mayor of Harrison talks like a man who has been selling an idea for a long time. After 15 years, his vision to transform this long-forsaken industrial town into a bedroom community for single, young professionals is finally taking shape.

A flurry of development is under way in this 1.2-mile-long town along the Passaic River, across from Newark. A 275-unit upscale apartment building was fully leased within seven months of its 2011 opening. On the heels of that success, other developers have broken ground on residential, retail and commercial projects in a redevelopment zone that circles the town’s New Jersey PATH station.


“Harrison is really like new build,” said David Barry, president of Ironstate Development Company, which built 300 Somerset Street with thePegasus Group. “We’re creating a neighborhood from whole cloth and trying to give it a sense of place.”

By the end of the year, the team will break ground on the Element hotel, an extended-stay hotel that will charge visitors about $150 a night. The seven-story hotel will sit across the street from 300 Somerset, wrapping around a 1,440-car garage the team built in 2010. The Hudson County Improvement Authority operates the garage and Harrison receives the revenue from it. Eventually, Ironstate and Pegasus plan to build five more apartment buildings with about 2,000 units and 67,000 square feet of retail.


First Group of Harrison Station Rentals Are Fully Leased


Harrison Station
is now 100% occupied.

HARRISON, NJ-All 275 units are now leased and occupied at the first Harrison Station complex, Greg Russo, a principal of Ironstate Development, tells GlobeSt.com. Debuting last September as the first rental project in a planned mixed-use community on 245 acres around a PATH Station, the building leased quickly from the start.

“We were able to stop offering concessions by March, and are now seeing some decent rent increases,” says Russo. Because the project was the first luxury rental building to go up in a raw post-industrial area where abandoned warehouse buildings still stand on surrounding streets, a month’s free rent was originally offered as enticement.

The development features an Olympic-size outdoor pool and deck, a fitness center, and other amenities. The exclusive marketing and leasing agent for the property was The Marketing Directors, which is based in New York and which has long been active selling and leasing apartments on New Jersey’s Gold Coast.

Ironstate, which has Pegasus Group as a partner in Harrison, is to begin work within a few months on a 136-room Element by Starwood hotel adjacent to the rental complex and PATH station. Also, by the end of the year, the companies will break ground on a second residential complex, Russo says.

The partners are only two of six development companies at work on projects under way at the massive redevelopment site. Russo Development, headed by Edward Russo – no relation to Greg – has begun construction of a 300-unit rental apartment building.

Heller Industrial has nearly completed demolition of buildings across Frank E. Rogers Boulevard from the PATH station, which is itself scheduled to be rebuilt starting next year. Heller expects to begin work on a mixed-use structure including 65 rentals by the end of the year.

The Ironstate/Pegasus building includes almost 13,000 square feet of street-level space, and Russo says this is also filling up. A Five Guys restaurant is now open at the site, and Russo reported recent lease-signings with a Pronto Gourmet market, Fakara restaurant and the hair salon Pro Cut.


via Liz Burlingame/ Northeast Real Estate Business

There was a time when Harrison in Hudson County, New Jersey, was dominated by views of aging warehouses and commuter parking lots. That landscape is changing, however. The former industrial center has become a hotbed of residential development, including a $750 million, mixed-use project known as Harrison Station.

The first completed building in the project opened last September and included 275 apartment units and 12,814 square feet of retail space. By April, the apartment units were fully leased, while Five Guys Burgers & Fries; Pronto Gourmet; Pro-Cuts; and Sakara, a Japanese restaurant, have each inked leases for retail space.

Ironstate Development Co. and the Pegasus Group are developing a $750 million mixed-use project in Hudson County, Now Jersey.

“The absorption has been very consistent, which is a sign that you haven’t tapped out that demand,” says Greg Russo, a senior vice president of Ironstate Development Co., one of the site’s developers.

Ironstate and its joint venture partner, the Pegasus Group, were initially attracted to the area’s transit access. The new building is just steps from the PATH station, with quick access to the New Jersey Turnpike.

The developers partnered in 2000, and after acquiring several parcels and completing environmental clean-up work on the site, they constructed a four-story parking deck before starting construction on apartments and retail space. This June, they will break ground on the project’s next phase, a 136-

room Element hotel, to be built around and atop the parking garage.

When completed, Harrison Station will ultimately include 2,600 residences and 80,000 square feet of retail.

The developers have noticed strong demand from those who work along the PATH line in Hoboken, Jersey City, or New York City

Young professional singles and couples, ages 20 to 39, are the target demographic for rentals, says Jacqueline Urgo, president of the Marketing Directors, the development’s exclusive leasing and marketing agent.

Urgo says many renters are attracted to living in luxury housing without the Hoboken price tags. “The well-designed homes, full suite of amenities, and supportive street-level retail complete the desirable urban lifestyle experience,” says Urgo. “It’s all at a price point that is extremely favorable when compared to areas like downtown Jersey City and Hoboken.”

Rents in the Harrison Station building average $1,450 for a studio, $1,675 for a one-bedroom unit and $2,150 for a two-bedroom unit. The development also includes a beach volleyball court and outdoor pool.

The project is also across the street from a 600-unit, mixed-use development by Heller Urban Renewal. Crews began demolition on the site last November.

The Heller development shares the same name, Harrison Station. Local developers reached an agreement to call the neighborhood Harrison Station to avoid name confusion. “Our project will be called Harrison Station 300 Somerset St.,” says Russo. “The neighborhood should have a name, and we’ll both build off that brand.”

New Jersey Town Bets Big on PATH


HARRISON, N.J.—Nestled along the Passaic River, this town has never quite shed its gritty industrial image, even as residential development helped transform nearby Jersey City and Hoboken from faded urban centers into commuter havens.

A recent announcement of $256 million in funding to replace the town’s 76-year-old PATH station, which isn’t even currently wheelchair accessible, could help change that.

A half dozen developers are planning to break ground on more than 1,000 new units, primarily rentals, in Harrison by the end of the year.

The construction is part of an even more ambitious idea: to add 13,000 units over the next decade to a town that has just 13,000 residents now. And it’s a gamble. That’s about as many new rental units as are slated to sprout in Brooklyn in the coming years.

But if it’s successful, the building boom may help reverse Harrison’s downward course.

“What was the alternative? Have the town die?” Mayor Raymond McDonough said.

Harrison’s redevelopment in many ways reflects a continuing reversal in the state’s fortunes. As single-family homes in leafy suburban towns languish, cities are experiencing a bit of a revival because of their proximity to public transportation.

“This doesn’t mean the suburbs are going to disappear, but it really makes sense for people who are close to New York,” said Stuart Meck, an associate research professor at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy.

In the mid-twentieth century tens of thousands of employees streamed into Harrison’s industrial zone each day, home to companies like RCA electronics and Otis Elevator Co.

About 15 years ago, the city created a plan for developing the 250-acre former industrial section of Harrison into a primarily residential community. But the plan hit a series of obstacles, including the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., when the flow of commuters to downtown Manhattan dropped.

Private investors have spent or committed more than $650 million toward the redevelopment effort, and $286 million of public funds have been committed to the redevelopment from different levels of government.

Harrison still faces significant hurdles: The developers will have to create retail and green space, where there is currently almost none, and the new developments are isolated from the already limited downtown core.

A new rental development in Harrison, near the town's PATH station./Ramin Talaie for The Wall Street Journal

But the success of one of the area’s recent rental developments has given other developers the confidence to move forward. Harrison Station—a 275-unit rental building built by Ironstate Development and Pegasus Group on remediated brown fields—began leasing in September and is fully rented.

Among the building’s attractions are a swimming pool and beach volleyball court. But its primary selling point was more likely cheap rents—$1,750 a month for a one-bedroom—and generous incentives.

Sarah Lin, a 33-year-old who works at World Financial Center, moved into the building a few weeks ago. She and her husband were living in a studio apartment on the Upper West Side, but Ms. Lin, who is pregnant, said they needed more space.

Ms. Lin said the landlord offered two months of free rent when they signed the contract, which helped seal the deal.

“A friend recommended it. She said it’s much safer than Newark,” Ms. Lin said. “There’s more space, and people are not very hectic.”

The same partnership plans to break ground this spring on a 138-room Element by Westin hotel, as well as a second apartment building.   CONTINUE >>>

Pathway to the future on a $256M fast track

By Steve Strunsky/Star Ledger Staff

Direct access to Manhattan, Jersey City and Hoboken by PATH train has been a cornerstone of Harrison’s plan to transform itself from an industrial center into a commuter hub.

Hundreds of condominiums and rental units are already built, under construction or planned for the area surrounding the local PATH station. A multi-phase residential and commercial project now being developed adjacent to the Harrison station is called, aptly enough, Harrison Station.

The problem, though, has been the station itself. Built in 1936, it is cramped and in desperate need of upgrades. Anyone riding an NJ Transit or Amtrak train through Newark passes the aging platforms against a backdrop of empty lots and abandoned factory buildings.

A rendering of the new $256 million glass-and-steel Harrison PATH station the Port Authority/ PHOTO: John Munson

So developers and town officials cheered yesterday’s announcement that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will spend more than a quarter-billion dollars to replace the 76-year-old station with a far grander, more accessible terminal of glass and steel to serve the 7,000 commuters who use the facility each weekday.

“It’s the best news we could have heard,” said Greg Russo, a principal in Ironstate Development Co. of Hoboken, which just completed a 275-unit apartment building as part of the Harrison Station project, with a hotel and another rental apartment building planned. “Nothing more important or significant could happen relative to Harrison’s redevelopment.” The PATH station, along Frank E. Rodgers Boulevard, also lies within a free kick of Harrison’s most notable attraction, professional soccer’s Red Bull Arena stadium.  READ MORE >>>

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