New Jersey

33 Park Avenue

33 Park Avenue Development Site

33 Park Avenue is a 448 unit residential high-rise development planned for the downtown Jersey City waterfront. Part of the growing section of Liberty Harbor, named due to the views of the Statue of Liberty to the East (though very cloudy on this day, and not pictured in this image). Above is a photo of the construction site taken on June 20th, with excavation and foundation still in its early stages.

The market in which these units will be delivered will be a saturated one in 2 years, when another dozen or so rental developments are set to hit downtown Jersey City. The luxury rental market downtown and near the waterfront currently commands rents at anywhere between $40-$50psf.

The expected cost of the development is over $140 Million, however, this includes property tax credits that reduce the annual expense to 10% of gross revenue for the first 6 years, increasing incrementally through the 10th year. Best explained here by Joshua Burd on NJBiz

So as I wandered around this site this weekend, I snapped pics in this vintage yellow crochet dress, decorated by my favorite versace scarf. Who said a dreary Saturday on an empty construction site had to be boring….?

 

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Reclaimed Land

Downtown Manhattan from the Hoboken waterfront. Vintage Skirt from Another Man's Treasure

Downtown Manhattan from the Hoboken waterfront. Vintage Skirt from Another Man’s Treasure

The Discovery Channel has this amazing series named Mega Structures, where they cover construction projects with the most extreme engineering challenges. I happened to catch the series on the Kansai International Airport in Japan, built entirely on a man-made island filled in with debris from a nearby mountain, in the middle of Osaka Bay. I was instantly fascinated and started looking for examples of these occurrences in my part of the world. The “Land Filling” process is a centuries old practice and is a great way to create land for human activity, where there otherwise would be a shortage.

Case in point, it turns out all of Battery Park City in New York was made entirely of land that was infilled to artificially expand the downtown Manhattan shoreline. While BPC is just a fraction of the size of lower manhattan (at .207 miles), it has allowed NYC to pick up another 13,000 residents (as per 2010 Census) and growing due to its proximity to the World Trade Center and surrounding financial and economic hub of lower Manhattan.

Battery Park- WTC West

Battery Park- WTC West

Link to the map showing the landfill of BPC is below:

Battery Park City Landfill

BPC started as a concept back in the 1960’s and was developed and funded over various Mayoral administrations for residential and commercial development. The LandFill itself was completed in the 1970’s, with the first residential developments going up in the late 1980’s as the first World Financial Center was being constructed.

Although Battery Park City has now developed every available plot of land, landlords in this neighborhood have to pay a land lease to the Battery Park City Authority, as the land fill that the buildings stand on are fully owned and managed by this agency.

As we think of the challenges that our planet and our species will face in coming generations with scarcity of land and overpopulation, it is somewhat relieving to know that we’ve successfully developed a method to create new land to meet our agricultural and housing needs.

We monitor and learn better methods of filling land by evaluating the effects of extreme weather–earthquakes, typhoons, hurricanes–like the effect of super storm Sandy on lower Manhattan, or the effects of earthquakes on the Kansai Airport. Leading to more efficient engineering on future reclaimed land projects, but most importantly more supply of fabulous shoreline real estate that we can invest in with more confidence!

Fair Market Value Challenged by Faith

Faith Ministries Church

Faith Ministries Church

Recently, my mom came home to tell me of a big real estate deal her pastor discussed one Sunday at church, involving millions of dollars in real estate. Obviously, I had to find out more.

Its an issue around the site that the Sayreville government obtained by eminent domain from Faith Ministries, NL (National Lead) Industries, New Jersey Highway Authority, The City of Perth Amboy and a few other parties, and underwent almost a decade in litigation over market price and fair compensation. The land has also been subject to massive contamination and environmental clean up efforts since at least 1998, and received millions of dollars from the Sandy Fund.

Here’s a photo I snapped of one of the empty lots: Parcel B

The Plan

In 2006 Sayreville Economic Redevelopment Authority (SERA) passed an official ordinance that designated much of its waterfront land as a “Redevelopment Area”. The development of over 900 Acres includes every type of attraction, retail, hotel, residential, waterfront marina, office, you name it–see for yourself in the video posted on Luxury Point’s YouTube channel at the end of this post.

SERA and the various property owners were quietly negotiating the acquisition of the land in the early 2000’s, when eventually one or both parties became disenchanted with the process, prompting a series of lawsuits alleging that SERA was low-balling the fair market value of the parcel to discount the cost of the cleanup. Meanwhile, the current owners, who had already begun the cleanup, refused to stop and turn the process over to SERA for fear of being coerced to accept an unfair offer. And so, Sayreville flexed their government muscle and condemned the land to acquire it by Eminent Domain. Read More Here

Holding Out On Faith

Today, it appears as though most of this has been settled, Sandy Fund provided millions to contribute towards the cleanup effort and the developer, O’Neill Properties, is moving forward with plans for at least part of the development. However, from the whisperings amongst the Faith Fellowship congregation, some of the land surrounding the church is still  under negotiation,  as Faith Fellowship holds out to collect on a larger sum. If you look carefully below, Faith Fellowship church and its surrounding property is on the north east portion of Parcel C, containing a bulk of the anticipated income stream of this site. And so, holding out on faith, looks like a good call.

Luxury Point_Sayreville

Dead Malls

Short Hills MallAs the holidays pass and the end of the year approaches, either you or someone you know spent a considerable amount of time in a shopping center. Depending on your neighborhood, shopping preference and ability to travel- chances are you are willing to go some distance to a place that has some combination of entertainment and your favorite retail outlets.

But once in a while, there is a mall that is poorly thought out, their retail tenants are suffering, and require some level of repositioning. I learned of these through the site Dead Malls and I focused on this for a recent real estate valuation assignment.

The subject property is Fashion Center, in Paramus NJ developed in the 1960’s to be the next 5th Avenue.

B. Altman

B. Altman

Fashion Center, was prosperous through the 1970s. But as the years progressed, other malls in the Paramus area, including Westfield Garden State Plaza, Paramus Park, The Shops at Riverside, and Bergen Mall began to capture its local market share. All 4 of these competing malls were further South along Route 17, which meant that motorists and customers had to drive far fewer miles from Manhattan to reach the other competing malls with equally high scale retailers. These malls included a wide variety of high-end retailers such as Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue, Abraham and Straus (now Macy’s), Sears and Fortunoff. Overall, there was an additional assortment of 70 upscale stores, in more accessible areas South of Fashion Center.
The demise of B. Altman, its largest tenant was a major blow to this development. B. Altman went bankrupt and shuttered its doors in the late 70’s due to poor management and strategy by its current owners. Since then, Fashion Center has been unable to re-lease the space to another equally high-scale tenant. Other retailers followed suit and gradually moved out after their leases, leaving Lord & Taylor as its only anchor store and leading some to refer to the Fashion Center as a dead mall.

This is what Fashion Center looks like today, repositioned as a retail center with no interior mall space. Fashion Center Paramus_Atrium

So, What could have been done differently?

Fashion Center is located on a major route, easily accessible and with good frontage along Route 17. Unfortunately, the competition had access to better locations with better proximity to Manhattan along the exact same route as our subject property.

The BEST alternative action by the owners of this mall would have been community activism to prevent or delay the opening of nearby malls, like Simon Malls did in the Cerro Wire/Oyster Bay Mall proposal. The ability to control the velocity of your competition is incredibly important in the retail landscape.  See this website, otherwise known as the gangster opposition from Simon Malls to prevent their competitor Taubman Centers from opening a competing mall No Mall Here.

Everywhere I went this holiday season I reflected on the economics of real estate assets, the effect of every dollar I spent, and how these dollars represented a vote to reinforce the feasibility of these establishments.

These photos you see, strutting about in these pink Hangisi satin pumps were taken from Short Hills Mall in Short Hills, NJ. There isn’t another shopping attraction comparable to this mall anywhere within 15 miles of this location. Perhaps by design, but its an important competitive advantage.  Taubman Centers is its current owner and am hopeful they learned some important lessons from their competitors at Fashion Center and Simon Properties.

The Mall at Short Hills

ROI on Fashion

So these past weeks, it’s become increasingly difficult for me to focus on highlighting properties for the blog, because 100% of my spare time is being dedicated to the two real estate valuation classes I am completing at Baruch this semester. However, I had an opportunity to snap some photos today (a much less time consuming endeavor), and the weather is finally cool enough to debut my favorite tapestry print coat.

While I’m no professional fashion blogger, I do find the task of tracking down pieces that inspire me and putting them together in a creative way, is a challenge that really helps me maintain my sense of individuality as a woman in the corporate world. Sharing it on this particular platform further pushes me to excel at it.

All about print Tapestry Print hp 12c

 

 

 

In fact, every minute and every dollar I invest in this endeavor yields benefits in my quality of life; some immeasurable aspects like the high I get when I find something I’ve been searching for months, or the pride I feel when others appreciate the personal collection that reflects my inner artistic expression.  But more importantly your consistent and passionate investment in an appealing look can yield real $$ back in your pocket in the following ways:

1. You appear interesting and confident, and this makes you more approachable. At work, at a conference or in a networking event, people want to connect with you, allowing you to grow your business or your brand.

2. If you are active in  your network, the increased reach will equal = access to information. And THIS is where your world can open up.

This is what inspired me today, and this idea drives my passion for fashion.

On another note, the valuation class is focused on appraisal methods, and I spent the past days learning to master the functions of the HP 12C financial calculator required for the course. The HP 12C has not changed much since 1972, and according to my industry colleagues, its the one true timeless vintage piece that belongs on the desk of any serious real estate professional. Glad its mine now.

The Business of Summer

Long Branch, Jersey Shore

Seasonal Properties

Most seasonal businesses know you have to be resilient and aggressive for your part-time business, which is why its no surprise that many of the beach properties along the shore are impeccably kept and maintained.

 

This particular area of the beach included a number of multi-family rental buildings, private  homes and large front yards used for beach parking. And on this less crowded strip, beach side parking revenue is easily $1,000/day.

This week, I’d like to learn how the multi-family rental buildings on the beach operate. Can you do a month-to-month summer rental as opposed to an annual contract? Is there any regulation on the rents that can be charged? Do they maintain their occupancy rates throughout the year? How do lenders look at this type of asset if you were a buyer or investor?

Sake Bomb, Woodbridge

Italian headscarf and Chinese Buffet. Thank you Woodbridge.

Italian headscarf and Chinese Buffet. Sake Bomb Restaurant.

If you’ve ever driven through Route 1, Route 9 or Route 35 in Jersey, you’ve probably seen the retail strips lined along the road. Home improvement stores, lots of fast food, liquor stores, department stores, local retail chains, diners and the occasional Chinese buffet. I was invited to this location–and since still feeling inspired from my trip to Dubai, I created a makeshift turban from my Versace scarf and headed over. It makes sense why most of these buffets are along retail strips on the highway; hundreds of thousands of cars each day pass by, providing high visibility to businesses AND the rents are arguably more favorable than being in a large mall complex, like the Woodbridge Center Mall.

Route 1

Route 1, Woodbridge

Rents range from $15.00 to $25.00 Per Square Foot (annually) on this Route 1 hub. By comparison, retail rents in lower Manhattan can be over $300 PSF!

 

Harrison & The Red Bulls Stadium

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Red Bulls Stadium

The Red Bulls are the Major League Soccer team for the NY tri-state area. The stadium is a short ride on the PATH to the Harrison train station, and I would encourage you to make a trip to see one of the games, the tickets start at $25!!

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Frank E Rodgers Blvd, Harrison NJ

Separately, the township of Harrison has really been focused over the past several years on building around this area, which was previously an old industrial park. After developing the NY Red Bulls arena in 2010, the Harrison redevelopment team has been holding out for upside on the economic recovery, but I was pleased to see yet another residential & retail site coming up rapidly on a nearby lot less than a block from the stadium.

With FIFA World cup this year, it is possible we are seeing the mainstream acceptance of Soccer as a major US sport? The success of the Red Bulls franchise will inevitably mean the success of the new sprouting businesses in the area. I will be keeping an eye on the progress of this site, and hope to report later this year on the retail and residential landscape.

 

Union Theatre

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Theatre for sale by Exit Realty

Union Theatre is at the center of Union township, NJ. At the border of Morris and Stuyvesant Avenues, this location is a major retail and business hub of the Union area. On a busy Saturday afternoon, you would normally see a crowd of people waiting to see an afternoon show, with plenty of nearby bakeries, restaurants, hair salons and stores to fill in the time as you wait. Unfortunately, the theatre was not profitable or in my opinion poorly managed, and so the owners have put the property up for sale. I  had to do a post on this property, its 14,000SF of prime space, seemingly an amazing development opportunity. I’m reaching out to the brokers for more info, and I’ll post an update on my thoughts on the highest and best use of the site.

It was also perfect timing having come across this theatre, as I happen to be wearing vintage from head to toe. Enjoy the pics!

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Union Theaters, 990 Stuyvesant Avenue Union NJ.

 

 

 

Maplewood Crossings

Maplewood Crossings

Maplewood Crossings, 92 Burnett Avenue Maplewood NJ

Went on a stroll through the park on first warm day of the season recently and came across this quaint garden style community nestled behind a children’s park. The property is Maplewood Crossings, managed by Elite Properties. Garden Style apartment complexes are typical to most areas of New Jersey (and the US, outside of major metropolitan areas like New York City). This particular property had amazing curb appeal and was tucked away in a quiet block of Maplewood.

To my delight, I also found that the property participated in an affordable housing program where applicants at 40, 50 and 60% of the area median income could qualify for rents as low as $328 to $986 for the largest units. Considering that the smallest market rate 1 Bedroom apartment was $1600, this would be a deal for a family who could qualify to meet the paltry maximum income requirements.

And you know how you can tell you are in a quality township? Well maintained public bathrooms, one that I was pleased to find right in the park. Great use of your township tax dollars!