Harrison takes another step forward as high-end rental complex nears completion

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAvia Joshua Burd/ NJ Biz

As several developers were planning redevelopment projects in Harrison, BNE Real Estate Group got an early glimpse of the town’s potential as a rail-anchored urban hub.

In partnership with Roseland Property Co., the firm opened 176 condominiums along the Passaic River between 2007 and 2008. Those units sold out — catering to commuters who use the nearby PATH station — but the ensuing real estate downturn caused BNE to shift to rental units for its next phase.

And once it had redesigned its project and obtained new approvals, the time was right.

“Time was in our favor, because obviously the market was only improving,” said Jonathan Schwartz, senior vice president of BNE Real Estate Group.

That has helped the Livingston-based firm bring that next phase in Harrison to fruition. As the lead developer, BNE is nearing completion of a two-building, 141-unit rental community known as Water’s Edge alongside the existing condo development.

About half of the units are complete and ready for occupancy, Schwartz said. And they represent a concept that has drawn developers to Harrison for more than a decade — even if the town has had many hurdles to overcome — high-end units in a transit-oriented setting, but at a lower cost than Hoboken and Jersey City.

“It’s a gigantic value play, and you’re only another 10 minutes on the PATH,” Schwartz said. “So I think that’s a big draw for people, and we’re offering really the same amenities and unit types.”

The milestone for BNE comes as momentum builds elsewhere in Harrison, where local officials have pushed to transform the town’s rundown industrial waterfront for some 15 years. Earlier this month, the Hampshire Cos. and CrownPoint Group broke ground on a 104-unit luxury apartment complex.

The apartments being developed by BNE are among 543 units that are nearing completion in the 1.3-square-mile town, which sits across the Passaic from Newark. And nearly 720 more are just underway or expected to break ground within the next six months, including the CrownPoint and Hampshire project.

All this revolves around a $256 million project to rehabilitate the PATH station, now underway by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The project will replace the deteriorating, 78-year-old facility that has long served as a busy commuter stop between Newark and Jersey City.

The projects come not a moment too soon for a town whose redevelopment has been stalled by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the recession and years of environmental cleanup.

The condo project by BNE and Roseland, known as River Park, was the first new residential project to be developed as part of the Harrison redevelopment plan. And Schwartz said Water’s Edge, a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments, will be fully complete within two to three months.

Going forward, Schwartz said the firm is “looking at a couple other projects in the redevelopment area.” It’s too early to offer specifics, he said, “but we’re definitely bullish on Harrison.”

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