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New Jersey waterfront an attractive alternative.

1997 was a tremendous year for the Northern New Jersey waterfront, and by all accounts, 1998 should be even grander. In the past few years, 1997 in particular, the New Jersey waterfront has gained momentum and is now seen as a viable alternative to Downtown Manhattan.

Both Jersey City and Weehawken offer fantastic views of the Manhattan skyline, newer, more technologically sophisticated buildings, convenient access to New Jersey and New York - and all at bargain rents. As we like to say, "just a river apart, but a fortune away," the Jersey waterfront truly offers the best of both worlds.

With an occupancy rate hovering in the single digits, the Northern New Jersey waterfront is booming, and new speculative construction projects are popping up by the handful. Currently, Cali Realty has projections to build four properties on the waterfront, just north of Harborside in Jersey City, and Hartz Mountain is looking to build about 400,000 square feet at the Colgate site. However, since many of these projects won't reach fruition until 1999 at the very earliest, occupancy rates throughout the waterfront are expected to tighten to near capacity in 1998. The lack of large blocks of space until at least 1999 has sent corporations scrambling, left with few choices.

One of the best options to tenants looking for large blocks of space, who don't want to wait until the turn of the century for occupation, is 300 Boulevard East in Weehawken - a remarkable bargain considering the current vacancy rates. The building, built 10 years ago, has never been occupied. Crown Properties recently bought the Class A. property, which had been in a state of disarray after years of foreclosure proceedings. Crown Properties is repositioning the building with several new capital improvements (including a remodeled atrium), and is currently looking for large-scale tenants to occupy the vacant 300,000 square feet. With fantastic views of Manhattan, high-tech amenities and access to public transportation, 300 Boulevard East is a wonderful low-cost alternative to Manhattan. While new construction is expected to rent in the $30's per square foot, 300 Boulevard East is looking to achieve rents in the $20's - quite a value for a large occupant.

Currently, Jersey City offers a slight advantage over Weehawken because of its convenient access to the New Jersey Path trains (Weehawken is 10 minutes from the Path). However, within the next 18 months, a new light rail system will be installed, making commuting to and from Weehawken convenient and inexpensive. Until then, savvy owners such as Crown Properties have found other ways to ease commuting issues. For instance, as a building amenity at 300 Boulevard East, Crown Properties offers regular shuttle pick-ups from both the Path train and Ferry, delivering tenants straight to their workplace, eliminating transportation woes.

We expect that this migration to both Jersey City and Weehawken will continue far into the future. As public transportation becomes more accessible and Manhattan tenants look for lower-cost options, more and more large and small companies will escape to the Northern New Jersey waterfront.
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Title Annotation:Annual Review and Forecast, section 2
Author:Scimone, Joseph V.
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Jan 28, 1998
Previous Article:Real estate market in the hands of the economy.
Next Article:Westchester office market is firming up.

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