City Line West at 33 University Place Blvd. in Jersey City — Courtesy: PRC Group
By Joshua Burd
A joint venture has taken the wraps off a new 144-unit luxury apartment building in Jersey City, the latest piece of a high-profile redevelopment effort led by New Jersey City University.
The development team, which includes an affiliate of PRC Group and Circle Squared Alternative Investments, joined local officials and other dignitaries on Thursday to unveil the community known as City Line West. Located at 33 University Place Blvd., a block east of Route 440, the complex offers a mix of studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments with preinstalled WiFi and smart home features, along with a host of indoor and outdoor amenities.
The project is also the second market-rate complex to be delivered on land owned by NJCU, as the university works alongside private-sector builders in a sweeping, master-planned redevelopment of the surrounding neighborhood.
“This is a truly transformative venture that will help revitalize the west side of Jersey City and expand the university’s presence in this historic city,” said Robert M. Kaye, the chairman and CEO of PRC Group, later adding: “This project provides a superb model of how a public-private partnership can and should work.”
Thursday’s ribbon-cutting drew NJCU President Sue Henderson, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and other public officials such as Tim Sullivan, CEO of the state Economic Development Authority. Many of those same stakeholders were also on hand to mark the start of construction for the project’s next phase, a second apartment building across the street.
They are among several pieces of what’s known as University Place, which spans more than 20 acres with an estimated cost of $400 million. Plans also call for additional market-rate apartments, retail anchored by a new ShopRite and a recently announced performing arts center project that will serve as the centerpiece of the neighborhood and of NJCU’s arts curriculum.
To that end, Henderson championed the strategy of leasing university-owned land to private developers, under a framework that is also supported by state incentives.
“We feel as an anchor institution in Jersey City, that we have a responsibility to help develop this part of the city,” she said. “We also have students who come to NJCU whose family income is about $50,000, which means going to college is really expensive — and we didn’t want to have to build a performing arts center for our students and for the community on their backs.”
For his part, Fulop touted University Place as a key piece of a broader, ongoing effort to promote redevelopment beyond the city’s downtown. On the west side, he said, University Place goes hand in hand with the planned 100-acre, mixed-use Bayfront project across Route 440.
“If you think forward from here five, six, seven years, this community will look very, very different,” Fulop said. “It will have a lot of the amenities that only the best communities have … So we’re thankful for this and we’re excited about this. The performing arts center is the next phase of this that we’re looking to get over the goal line and I think the future is very, very bright for the west side of Jersey City.”
Both University Place and the city’s overall vision have been key selling points for the private equity partners that have come to the project through Circle Squared Alternative Investments. Jeff Sica, founder and president of the Morristown-based firm, said his investors “always look at projects that enhance communities,” and City Line West is no exception.
“The investors, for us, are the lifeblood of what we do,” Sica said. “They stepped up for this, they bought into the vision.”
Circle Squared is also partnering with The Hampshire Cos. and The Claremont Cos., which delivered the first luxury rental building at University Place and have broken ground on their second nearby. All of the firms have worked closely with Strategic Development Group, which is credited with spearheading the University Place concept and is now leading efforts to develop the nearly 500-seat performing arts center and the attached residential component.