NJ infill project underway
The first phase of Liberty Harbor, a 28-block project near the Hudson River in Jersey City, New Jersey, is nearly complete, with a dense collection of multi-story structures ranging from glass-box Modernist townhouses to traditional buildings with robust architectural embellishment.
Two four-story corner apartment buildings designed by Erik Vogt and Marieanne Khoury-Vogt feature stone bases, ornamented brick walls, generous fenestration, and cornices decorated with gold-colored stars. The strikingly deep cornice eaves are supported by steel brackets evoking the corona of the Statue of Liberty, which can be seen from the 86-acre development.
Members of the CNU New York-New Jersey-Connecticut Chapter were impressed, for the most part, when they toured the development, which Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co. planned in a 1999 charrette. “The bay windows throughout the project definitely give Liberty Harbor a sense of identity, and the English basement retail units seem to be a good way of utilizing space that can’t be residential due to the flood zone status,” says Zeke Mermell of Cooper, Robertson & Partners.
The first 215 housing units — including five-story luxury townhouses with elevators, single-level townhouse suites in three-story buildings, four-story brownstones with three residential levels above ground-floor retail, and eight-story condominium buildings — sold quickly in late 2006 and early 2007. Since then, sales have become “very slow,” says Jeffrey Zak, one of the developers, “but rentals remain strong.” The project is anticipated to have 10,000 units at build-out.
All the streets carry two-way traffic and have on-street parking. One street that departs from the DPZ plan is Liberty View Drive, whose cartway was laid out in a wavy contour by Princeton professor and architect Mario Gandelsonas. Peter Mocco, a partner with Zak, has described Liberty View Drive, which looks toward the Statue of Liberty, as “perfect genius,” but others have found fault with the conflict between the straightness of the right-of-way and the wiggling character of the pavement, not to mention the resulting strange shapes of the planting strips along its edges.
“The two glass townhouses were not successful and remain unsold,” Zak says, attributing their failure to a “very expensive facade” and a “very radical” appearance. “We found the traditional styles were most popular,” Zak says.