The Harper at Harmon Meadow — All images courtesy: Hartz Mountain Industries
By Joshua Burd
Gus Milano recalls his first day on the job with Hartz Mountain Industries in 1981, when the firm’s chief financial officer at the time showed him a newly acquired site in Secaucus that was thought to be ideal for residential development.
On Thursday, there was no shortage of pride or satisfaction as Hartz celebrated the completion of such a project and the long-awaited addition to the Harmon Meadow community, which has instead become known for its vast mix of shops, restaurants and office space.
“Thirty-seven years later, we finally got there,” Milano said, noting that “in the meantime,” Hartz built a million square feet of commercial and retail space, 2 million square feet of office space and 1,500 hotel rooms, while creating millions of dollars in annual tax revenue to the town.
“So a lot has been done from that day in 1981.”
The firm on Thursday welcomed local officials to unveil the 469-unit complex known as The Harper at Harmon Meadow, located at 100 Park Plaza Drive near Route 3 and the New Jersey Turnpike. Sitting just steps from many of Harmon Meadow’s retail offerings, the community allows Hartz to tout a luxury living option that is less dense than neighboring Hoboken and Jersey City, but still provides considerable convenience.
“It’s an exciting project,” said Milano, Hartz’s president and chief operating officer. “I don’t think anything like this exists in New Jersey, where you can walk to so many amenities. … So I think we have something very special here.”
Rents at the Harper start at $1,780 per month, although 20 percent of the apartments have been reserved for low- and moderate-income renters. The complex also offers an NJ Transit bus stop on the property, plus free shuttle service to the Secaucus Junction train station and an on-site ticket vending machine.
“Hartz Mountain Industries continues to be an incredible partner in the economic development of Secaucus,” Mayor Michael Gonnelli said. “Their commitment to the town’s smart growth has, in part, helped create one of the region’s most desirable and meaningful mixed-use communities here at Harmon Meadow.
“The Harper will continue to shape this dynamic retail and residential center by adding high quality, upscale rental homes to a location brimming with activity.”
With a sprawling midrise layout, the complex includes three buildings that sit in the northeastern corner of the 3.5 million-square-foot Harmon Meadow development. Apartments range from studios to two-bedroom units, with spacious layouts and high-end finishes and appliances.
Amenities include a saltwater swimming pool and resort-style outdoor area, plus a fitness center with an on-site yoga studio, spin room and virtual classes. Hartz has also built a new trailside athletic course that allows for walking or jogging through the wetlands with 13 fitness stations.
The nearby Harmon Meadow amenities include 30 restaurants, a movie theatre, an on-site convention center, nine hotels and host of retailers. As such, the Harper adds a new element to a vision that has been taking shape over the past 50 years, since the company’s founders began to acquire more than 1,200 acres in Secaucus that would become the Harmon Cove and Harmon Meadow developments.
As Hartz Chairman and CEO Leonard Stern noted on Thursday, the success of the projects has been due in large part to the cooperation of local officials. The latest addition to Harmon Meadow was no different, he said.
“It’s been a good partnership,” Stern said. “And Hartz is a very different company — we make a good neighbor — because we’re not here today and gone tomorrow.”