Circle Squared Alternative Investment’s redevelopment efforts are helping build a community within one of the state’s most historic cities, where residents want to live, work and play
After World War II, Americans moved to the suburbs. The automobile was king and owning a home was an important part of living the American Dream. While that’s still the dream for many people, there’s also been a growing movement of Americans who don’t want to have a lawn to mow or a mortgage to pay. Not everyone, particularly millennials and empty nesters, wants to get in the car every time they need a quart of milk or want to grab a quick bite to eat.
These are the people returning to the cities, or perhaps they never left, and looking for a neighborhood experience, a community within a city, where basic needs can be met within walking distance and there’s easy access to public transportation. It’s a concept that the Brookings Institution refers to as innovation districts, meaning: “dense enclaves that merge the innovation and employment potential of research-oriented anchor institutions, high-growth firms, and tech and creative start-ups in well-designed, amenity-rich residential and commercial environments.”
That kind of new community is what Circle Squared Alternative Investments has been helping to create on the West Side of Jersey City. In partnership with New Jersey City University (NJCU), the City of Jersey City, and major developers including The Hampshire Companies, Claremont Companies, and The PRC Group, Circle Squared Alternative Investments has been a key player in the state-of-the-art, $400 million University Place redevelopment project on the campus of NJCU.
The master redevelopment plan for University Place is intended to help create a vibrant and walkable neighborhood with all the luxury and lifestyle amenities of comparable waterfront/downtown properties but at much more affordable price points. In addition to 1,000 residential units (with one or two bedrooms, as well as studios) in four apartment buildings, the completed development- will include a performing arts center, graduate student housing, a gym and fitness center, a grocery store-anchored shopping center, and bike terminals.
“Alongside our partners, we broke ground on phase one of University Place in 2016 when we celebrated the initial construction of RIVET 1, the project’s first luxury apartment building,” said Jeff Sica, CEO of Circle Squared Alternative Investments. “RIVET 1 officially opened its doors ahead of schedule in August of 2018 with its residential and retail components fully-leased. Fast-forward to this past May, and we again had shovels in the ground to mark the beginning of RIVET 2, our second luxury apartment complex which will boast 199 residential units and approximately 10,000 square feet of service-oriented retail space upon completion.”
The residential units of both RIVET 1 and RIVET 2 will offer the modern design that many of today’s renters are longing for. From stainless steel appliances and kitchens which offer beautiful quartz countertops, elegant lighting and cabinetry, to upscale bathrooms featuring stylish tilework and marble vanities, no corners were cut when it came to luxury. Structured parking will also be available to residents, but access to public transportation is an important aspect of a vital urban community. Almost half of all Jersey City residents already take public transportation to work and University Place is close to both the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail and the PATH system, connecting Jersey City to Manhattan, Newark and Hoboken.
While Jersey City’s Hudson River waterfront has become a new “gold coast” with an impressive skyline of its own, it’s an area that’s become too pricey to fit the investment thesis of Circle Squared Alternative Investments. The West Side however has become an area of emphasis for the city as the last section with the potential for major redevelopment and that has made possible the public-private partnerships which the firm has been fortunate to be part of.
Further evidence of Jersey City’s commitment to developing the West Side can be seen in the city’s purchase of 95 acres of property adjacent to University Place, known as Bayfront, with a $170 million bond issue. The city has also committed an additional $71 million for design and construction of roadways, sewer and water lines, storm water drainage, traffic control devices, and electrical and gas infrastructure at the property. After infrastructure is installed, the city will sell off parcels to developers, although the ordinance authorizing the project notes that the city wants to maximize the number affordable housing units to the Bayfront I Redevelopment Area.
Jersey City was among the first places settled in New Jersey. It’s the state’s second largest city and has one of the most diverse populations of anywhere in America. Like many older cities, particularly in the Northeast, its population declined in the post-war years as more and more people hit the highway and headed for the suburbs. But, since the 1980’s the city’s population has been moving upwards (from 223,532 in 1980 to 247, 597 in the 2010 census to an estimated 270,753 in 2017, and still growing). Jersey City continues to evolve and is a place where more and more people want to live, work, play and learn. Circle Squared Alternative Investments is proud to be part of that continuing story.
© 2019 Circle Squared Alternative Investments, LLC. All rights reserved. Circle Squared is a investment adviser registered with the Securities & Exchange Commission. Registration does not imply a certain level of training or skill. Investing in alternatives is subject to risk, including, the potential loss of principal and requires investors to meet certain eligibility criteria.