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.

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“Harrison is really like new build,” said David Barry, president of Ironstate Development Company, which built 300 Somerset Street with the Pegasus 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.

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