A rendering of 720-756 Bergen Ave. in Jersey City, which is slated for completion in 2018. Courtesy: The KABR Group
By Joshua Burd
Hoping to serve as a catalyst in the neighborhood, the KABR Group broke ground Thursday on a new 58-unit apartment building in Jersey City’s McGinley Square section.
The five-story building, which is slated to include ground-floor retail, sits at 720-736 Bergen Ave. at the corner of Fairmount Avenue. The development firm expects to complete the project by the first half of 2018, while hoping to capture the demand for walkable, urban living in an area that has been largely overlooked during the city’s construction boom.
“You have all of those touchpoints,” Kenneth Pasternak, chairman of the KABR Group, said during a groundbreaking ceremony. “You have the proximity, you have the diversity here, you have this unbelievable backbone here that can’t be created — the way the streets lay out, the kind of buildings you have.”
For the Ridgefield Park-based firm, the $13.5 million project will be the first of “hopefully a whole series of projects” in the neighborhood, Pasternak said. KABR is building it with the help of a 30-year tax abatement that is tied to the property’s revenue, as opposed to conventional taxes, as part of an effort by Mayor Steven Fulop to encourage development beyond the city’s burgeoning downtown and waterfront.
It’s one of several Jersey City projects in the pipeline for KABR. The firm also has residential high-rises in development or under construction in the city’s Journal Square section and the downtown.
“Jersey City is a city that is growing in all areas,” Adam Altman, managing partner at the KABR Group, said in an interview. “And we see an opportunity to be a part of that growth in areas that get more attention or less attention.”
In McGinley Square, he said there is demand for newer living options that are more affordable than the luxury buildings on the waterfront. As such, the new property will cater to those who work at nearby Saint Peter’s University and other community anchors.
“Bringing diversity to this area now is bringing in people who can afford to pay a little bit more for something brand new and nice and having them shop at … and support those local businesses,” Altman said. “That’s how an area gets built.”
The firm also owns a lot across the street that is slated for another 20 units, Altman said. And while being the first to build in such an neighborhood does come with economic risks, he said, the projects are “something that we think Jersey City is in need of and deserving of.”
During Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremony, other speakers offered a similar hope that the new development would provide a lift to the neighborhood.
“Over 25 businesses have been in this district for 25 years, and I consider them the backbone of the area,” said Christina Barresi, director of the McGinley Square Partnership. “So they’re thrilled and the community is thrilled, and we look forward to having you here in McGinley Square.”