2018 Aug 5th

The July Hoboken Condo Sales Results

The average price of a Hoboken condo has just breached the $900,000 mark for the first time in history. There is no question in my mind that our little mile-square town has changed. It is more affluent than ever before and the people moving here and buying homes can afford more than ever before. No longer the place for college grads who come here for cheap rents, we are now the home to young families looking for an easy commute and good quality of life. And free pre-school, if they are lucky enough to make the cut.

The developers have responded with new construction catering to these young families. Large, over 2000 square foot, luxuriously-appointed condos are popping up everywhere and commanding hefty prices. The brownstone renovation continues with few buildings left that haven’t been gutted and prices up in the $3-million neighborhood becoming more frequent. Don’t expect it to change any time soon. A walk down Washington Street makes it very apparent to an old-timer like me that a whole new audience of consumers is being catered to and the real estate segment has responded as well.

Gentrification happened years ago. This is entirely something else. I applaud the city government for its many, mostly successful efforts to move Hoboken forward to keep these residents and taxpayers happy. (The Washington Street bike lane – not such a success). Now if only our school system could make the leap to excellence…

  1. Tim

    What do you think about Bhalla’s enforcement of the $25/year annual registration for rent control laws for all landlords on top of touting such “successes” as Washington Street (delayed until next year), the homeless task force (what the hell is that?), and the temporary 20% dog park (which was already a part of the city’s plan)?

  2. Lori

    Tim,
    You don’t really want to know what I think about rent control. Where is the NEED BASED subsidized housing in Hoboken? It’s not at Church Square, or Marine View, that’s for sure, and the current rent control scheme doesn’t address it. Tenants at Marine View are AirBnB’ing their apartments!

    Washington Street was a mess long before his time, thanks to Beth Mason. Should have been approved and done long ago but she stepped up to block it so Dawn wouldn’t get the credit (from what I remember).

    The dog parks are a travesty. We’ve had a dog as long as we’ve owned a home in Hoboken (19 years) and our dog park are awful compared to what I see and enjoy elsewhere – City Bark in NOLA, for example. They cut down the tree in Elysian Park dog run and put up ineffective shade shelters that don’t really provide shade. Also before Ravi’s time. But we still don’t even have a working gate with a real latch on the entrance! I’ve been complaining to Tiffany about that to no avail. Pathetic.

    I still believe he will do more for the city than any of the alternative choices. But I do wish Steve Fulop was our Mayor…

  3. Lori Turoff

    Just got this email from Mayor Bhalla:

    As Mayor, maintaining the charm and character of our City while protecting our community from overdevelopment is a major priority. You can rest assured that I have your best interests at heart, and not the special interests of developers and their profits.

    That’s why I recently vetoed a developer-favored ordinance championed by Councilman DeFusco that would have reduced the amount light and air in the open area in the middle of our residential city blocks, also known as the “donut hole”, all across the City. This ordinance would have resulted in the gradual erosion of rear yard open space and allowed developers to reap the financial benefit of larger units, at the expense of Hoboken’s charm and character.

    Developers doing business in the City, including those who donated to Councilman DeFusco’s campaign, would benefit by being allowed to build larger buildings as of right, without any public input through seeking a variance for exceeding lot coverage, as they have to do today.

    Additionally, this ill-fated ordinance was deemed by City planning professionals as being inconsistent with Hoboken’s Master Plan, which is the official document that guides land use decisions in Hoboken, and the ordinance was resoundingly rejected by the Hoboken Planning Board as being inconsistent with the Master Plan. Despite this, Mike DeFusco chose to violate the public trust and place the special interests of developers and his donors above of the best interests of our City (although it’s not surprising given his previous history).

    I thank Councilmembers Jim Doyle and Emily Jabbour, who were the only two to oppose the ordinance on the Council, and the many members of the public who reached out to voice their concern to their Councilmembers, as well. I will remain vigilant in ensuring that any future attempts are likewise scrutinized and that the interests of our community should ALWAYS come ahead of developer profits.

    Thank you,

    Mayor Ravi Bhalla

  4. Eric

    Is that measly plot of land behind apartments really worth more than providing larger units to support families would want to grow and stay in Hoboken? Most of those are deeded to the ground floor unit anyway, so it’s not like it’s benefiting the majority of residents. I feel like more 3 and 4 bedrooms would be much more valuable than some 10 foot sliver of private yard.

    Doesn’t this idea also contradict the proposal to increase the height allowance west of 4th St.? I read something about Balla pushing for a change to the code for a large swath of Central and West Hoboken.

    Seems like on one hand the city talks about preserving the “charm” but contradicts themselves with their other actions like their proposals to increase density and put up 20 story towers on western side of town.

  5. Lori

    Measly? 40% of a 100 foot lot is not quite measly. Why do you think they are 10 feet? Our ‘donut’ has yard of closer to 40 feet abutted by another yard of 40 feet making for 80 feet of landscaped open space, large trees and shade. I would not want to give that up to have windows at the lot line looking into my space, would you?

  6. Eric

    I exaggerated a bit and I agree with not wanting windows looking into each other (easily solvable by architects).

    But my argument is that it would benefit the market, buyers and families to have larger units available for people who want to stay in this area but are either getting priced out or sized out. Privates yards are surely great but they benefit 1 out of 4-6 units of a specific type of building, at best less than 5% of all homeowners in town.

    And you can replace (or supplement) those backyards with rooftops and terraces, a better use for what is currently a totally underutilized space.

    Just seems like another example of government thinking it knows best when the market is demanding change and growth. The market is clamoring for larger units and more bedrooms. If there was a way to fill that demand it would allow families to remain in Hoboken and allow it to be more affordable and livable for middle class families instead of continuing to be a transient town and forcing prices up due to supply restriction.

    Speaking of rooftops, that’s another place where the gov’t won’t budge for irrational reasons. Talk about wanting to be greener, making rooftops livable would be a HUGE boon to open and recreational space, immediately increasing Hoboken’s useable land square footage by 100% without any strain on utilities or resources. And yet the silly zoning won’t allow rooftops for brownstones or small buildings.

  7. Eric

    And for what it’s worth, it’s not like backyards would become illegal. If they’re so in demand then prices for yarded units would increase and developers would be incentivized to provide those spaces to new construction regardless of zoning.

  8. JC

    Are you guys speaking about the percentage of land allowed to build as a total percent of the lot? Currently 60% I believe.

  9. Lori

    Yes, 60% as of right for lot coverage. But let’s look at the type of buildings typically found in Hoboken. There are many much older, 5 story walk-ups, with 2 units per floor (right/left apartments). These often have a common yard accessed through the basement or, less often, half the yard goes to each of the 1st floor units if they’ve built some sort of direct access off the rear. There are many older (pre-1900) 4 story 1 unit per floor buildings. These also have basements that are either duplexed into the parlor level or common storage. Here, the yard mostly goes to the parlor level. Sometimes that is the only floor that can even access the yard. Then there are full-lot newer construction (think Upper Grand, MetroHomes, Fields) 10ish year old elevator buildings with common couryards. These buildings will almost never have private yards except some 2nd floor units have a private terrace adjoining the common one. Finally, there are some smaller lots (25 ‘ wide) where older buildings have been torn down and new construction is going up. This was the case at issue. There is no reason why a developer can’t design the building to have an internal stair and external fire escape that is also used as a terrace for each floor and still stay within the 60% lot coverage. These properties are usually about 1200 to 1400 sq ft., plenty big for a 3BR. If they were to expand much more, there is a problem of no windows other than on the front and back and they would be dark caves. The internal rooms would be “dens”, not BRs as they would probably lack windows. Furthermore, these new units are being tricked out with tons of stone, high-end appliances and cost over $800 a square foot. Affordable housing has absolutely nothing to do with this discussion (unless set-asides are required and that’s unlikely in small developments). Allowing more than 60% lot coverage does little, if anything, to “help families stay in Hoboken”. Better we should continue to improve the schools and do something about paying more than our share of property taxes – thank you Hudson county.

  10. JC

    thnx for the reply

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