2009 Nov 9th

Monday Morning Musings on Hoboken Real Estate

More Hoboken Condos

I read on Hoboken411.com (and confirmed from other sources) that a bunch of zoning variances were granted for a lot owned by the former Fire Chief Cassessa.  The plan is for a 12 story condo building with 100% lot coverage at 509 Newark St.  It’s down by the corner of Observer & Newark – the one with the  chaotic traffic every rush hour.  72 units and 77 parking spaces are proposed in yet another Dean Marchetto design.  I wonder, when Toll Brothers is having problems selling 700 Grove and Zepher Lofts right next door, why would a rational business person think more condos in a market with an oversupply of units for sale were an economically good idea?

Environmental Problems in Hoboken?

A quick search on the internet shows that almost all of western Hoboken (and much of the rest) had environmental “issues” at one time.  We even had our own EPA Superfund site right in town at the corner of 8th and Grand – still a vacant, fenced off lot.  My understanding, though, was that if a property was cleaned up, the NJ EPA would issue a “no action” letter essentially stopping the chain of potential liability.  Yet one of my buyers was recently in contract for a property at a popular Fields building near 9th and Jefferson.  The managment company filled out the condo questionnaire indicating that there was an ongoing environmetal issue even though the buildings about 5 years old.  As a result, the buyer’s FHA loan was denied.  Head’s up to current condo owners, condo associations and buyers – this may become a real problem for buyers of recent construction, especially on the west side of Hoboken where there used to be mostly factories.

Do You Find Open House Placards Objectionable?Washington Street

Every Saturday and Sunday, Washington Street becomes an obstacle course.  Agents put these placards out on every corner so we end up with 8 to 10 per corner.  It is unsightly, ineffective, unsafe.  It is out of control.  Unfortuantely, as long as one company can do it, everyone has to or the sellers say “why isn’t my open house out on the street?”.  So here is my suggestion.  Ban them.  No free speech issues here as it is commercial speech which can be regulated for a reasonable purpose – pedestrian safety, for example.  Why doesn’t the city of Hoboken put up a kiosk and sell space to agencies and other commercial establishements to advertise by flyer or, should they be so technologically sophisticated, by digital display.  Hey, the dry cleaners can do it – how hard can it be?  This would serve to clean up our streets, make it easier for pedestrians to walk, save me a ton of effort every weekend, level the playing field for realtors, and RAISE REVENUE for Hoboken.  Anyone else agree?  Is it time to start a letter-writing campaign to our new Mayor & council people?

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  1. Andy

    Lori, thanks for the update. Although its a little depressing that developers still think they can flip “luxury” condos in Hoboken especially in that part of town. As for 700 Grand or Zepher how as a realtor can anyone actually show that place successfully? What do they tell their clients, not to look down at the railyards when they show the view or do they time it right so that no trains are coming into the station? What developer actually thought that was a good idea to build right next to the tracks? And now they want to build more “luxury” condos that will cause more congestion and add to the flooding problem on that end of town. Did this really get approved by the current zoning board????

    Now as for the environmental issues, I can’t agree more with your assessment. If you see a huge plot that’s vacant in Hoboken you should think twice before you move next door to it or around the block for that matter. I shudder every time I walk past that section of town and see the person w/ the pool in the back yard. You want your kids playing in that run-off? I wouldn’t be shocked if the contaminants had leeched into the soil for a much larger radius than just that 1 block. One has to think about who did the tests and how complete and accurate they really were. Hoboken is a lovely place until you develop a disease.

  2. Recent Buyer

    When I was looking, I liked the placards, actually. If I saw something I liked, I’d walk on down to see it. I don’t think they are that unsightly.

  3. Lori

    Andy – have you ever heard of “train watchers”? There are some people, not many but some, who actually like trains and rail yards. I don’t object to that nearly as much as the traffic, lack of street life and lack of other amenities like stores, health clubs, parks, and transportation in that area. The variances have been granted.

    Just to clarify on the environmental point – this was regarding the building site itself – not next door or nearby – underneath the 5 year old building.

  4. guest

    The signs blow over and create a hazard. Why can’t the real estate agents just put the list of open houses on a flyer that you can grab as you walk past their offices? Most of the offices are on Washington Street. It would accomplish the same purpose with much less disruption.

  5. stan

    “I shudder every time I walk past that section of town and see the person w/ the pool in the back yard.”

    I have thought this many times walking by. Scary thought, living right next to a lot that is too contaminated to build on.

  6. Randy

    I liked 700 grove when i looked at it, but the view of railyard really turned me off. and units not facing the rails weren’t much pricier. how has 700 grove and zepher been selling? is there still a lot of vacancies?

  7. realtor

    Lori, Agents should be able to put a sign out in front of the house/condo during the open house, or on the street for a specific property during the scheduled open house time.

    Some Agencies put a generic placard on every block with generic Open House flyers starting early Saturday morning and throughout the whole weekend. That is the real problem in my opinion.

  8. Lori Turoff

    One sign in front of the property – fine, I get it. A sign on every single corner of Washington Street – why?

  9. new owner

    My friends recently sold their unit at 700 Groove St. They bought preconstruction, so made a few dollars. Anyway, their unit faced the rails. 9th floor. Their complaints: The noise came through the wall mounted AC/Heat units; there was no way to eliminate the noise b/c the units are vented. The ‘high end’ washer/dryers were NOT vented out; therefore it took almost twice as long to dry anything (what’s the point of energy efficiency?). No light fixtures in the living room. The ceilings were not recessed, so none could be installed. (They ended up puting in some modern track lighting system. Didn’t look as nice though.)

  10. Tania

    Regarding the street signs…
    There is an ordinance, its just not being enforced. I didn’t know myself until last week. Apparently the Mayor’s office sent it out again, and we were all given a copy at our office meeting. It doesn’t specifically mention the real estate signs, but if you read the ordinance it seems clear that all the real estate signs are in violation.

    § 168-45. Exemption; protrusion restrictions; interference. [Added 5-19-82 by Ord. No. C211; amended 9-4-1996 by Ord. No. R-198; 5-17-2000 by Ord. No. R-439]

    A. The provisions of this Article shall exempt the display and sale of merchandise by local retail merchants from the sidewalk area directly in front of their own storefronts.

    B. Said displays shall not protrude more than six (6) feet from the building line of the merchant’s premises or onethird (1/3) of the sidewalk abutting said premises, whichever is less, provided that a minimum of six (6) feet remains for the pedestrian right-of-way and/or passage way. Trees, tree wells, parking meters, trash receptacles, and other obstructions shall not be considered in determining the proper spacial area of the pedestrian right-of-way and/or passage way. Sidewalk space occupied by these abovementioned obstacles shall not be included in the calculation of available sidewalk area. No such display, sign, advertisement, or other type of placard shall be located in an area outside of the parameters defined herein. No such display shall be so placed as to protrude into or upon the sides of corner properties.

    C. No display shall be so placed as to interfere with the pedestrian right-of-way.

    D. The sidewalk space designated for such displays may only be utilized by a merchant who either owns the pertinent storefront area or rents directly from the owner of said storefront area. No such merchant may sublet or assign this sidewalk space to another merchant and/or individual.

    E. Lawfully entitled merchants (as defined in subsection D hereof) may only display those items which are sold within their own respective stores. No item may be displayed for sale within said sidewalk space if that item is not contained within the merchant’s regular line of merchandise.

  11. teaorcoffee

    The open house placards don’t bother me, which is funny, because I am easily bothered.

    Putting a 12-story building on Newark is ridiculous and a financial disaster waiting to happen.

  12. Lori

    Hobojoe – The problem with 9th and Jeff is that the FHA lending process is stricter than conventional loan underwriting. Something that was acceptable to the bank 5 years ago, no longer is.

  13. Tiger

    This town never ceases to amaze me. Really? 12 story on Newark and Observer?

  14. Lori

    What doesn’t surprise me is that it will be yet another building designed by Dean Marchetto. How does this guy get the job for every building in town?

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