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.
“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.”
“I think Harrison years ago recognized the very valuable asset they have in the PATH train, and like any other town they wanted to see the town blossom and grow — and so they designated a very large area around the train and what is now Red Bull Stadium a redevelopment area,” says Jonathan Schwartz, executive vice president of developer BNE. The firm completed a 176-unit condo project, River Park at Harrison, in 2007, and last month opened a 141-unit rental building, Water’s Edge, with studios from $1,495, one-bedrooms from $1,795 and two-bedrooms from $2,205.
Carl Lordi, a stationary engineer at Newark’s Penn Station, moved to a one-bedroom in the development shortly after it opened after watching it rise throughout the previous months.