With many young professionals and even boomers being priced out of New York City and Brooklyn, outlying yet accessible communities like Hoboken, N.J., attract greater attention. The city, once an industrial hub on the Hudson River, has been transforming itself due to its proximity to Manhattan by car, train, bus, and ferry.
Development has brought skyline views and a growing array of services, cultural activities, and restaurants. Developer Larry Bijou, whose eponymous firm is located in Hoboken, has been active in the city’s change. His most recent project is the mixed-use Park & Garden in Hoboken’s north end, referred to as “Uptown.”
The 60,000-square-foot site that Bijou purchased in 1999 housed a seven-story textile warehouse and factory in the 1920s, then was demolished to become a parking garage. Bijou initially kept the garage because it provided good income.
“I was waiting until I could acquire adjacent buildings to help alter the neighborhood,” he says.
He bought the Hostess Building, which housed the manufacturer of the famous cupcakes and Twinkies, and turned it into a retail center. Next, Bijou purchased the Coconut Building, a dry-goods warehouse that he converted to a mixed-use retail and condo building. Now, with Park & Garden, his goal was to bring together quality rental units, retail, and a charter school.
When Bijou started work on Park & Garden, he followed his company mantra of making it as green as possible by selecting sustainable choices that would lead to LEED Gold certification, including bamboo flooring throughout the units. Architects at Hoboken-based Marchetto Higgins Stieve designed the 212-unit project as two structures with a lobby in between, a layout that would offer the best views and light, says architect Bruce Stieve.
The buildings’ green roofs help cool the apartments in summer and warm them in winter. The roofs also retain water to prevent flooding the street. Park & Garden also boasts a fully automated parking garage for 383 cars and an industrial-inspired masonry-and-metal façade with windows ganged together for a loft effect, Stieve says.
Because of the project’s mix of demographics, the architects designed the apartments with one, two, and three bedrooms, some with a den. The smallest one-bedroom is 730 square feet and rents for $3,250 a month; the largest three-bedroom measures 1,966 square feet and goes for $6,495 monthly, putting the development at the higher end of Hoboken’s rental market.
Opened this past July, Park & Garden’s occupancy is near 50%. “The lease-up shows that people are attracted to green and will pay more for it, and then are likely to stay because utility bills will be lower," Bijou says.
Park & Garden offers several popular amenities, including an outdoor swimming pool, clubrooms, a lobby coffee bar, bicycle storage, a children’s playroom, a dog grooming station, and a mezzanine with USB ports. The property also includes a package concierge; TransitScreen, a real-time display of local mass-transit options; and a bike share.
The development goes even further in reflecting Bijou’s commitment to neighborhood improvement: His company manages a seasonal farmers’ market in the area, a K–8 charter school operates on the site, and retail is planned.
Residents even have use of the school’s basketball court.
Mayor Dawn Zimmer applauds the effect Park & Garden has had on the surrounding community.
“In addition to supporting our growing school population, features like a co-generation system, solar panels, and green roof make this building a model for how we can be more sustainable and resilient,” she says.