Hoboken Weathers the Market

Published: June 22, 2008
HOBOKEN was often held up as the prime example of the booming real estate market, and now it appears that the city is showing that it can hold its own in a down market, too.

A rendering of 800 Madison, part of the Upper Grand development.

Average sales prices are still increasing for downtown condominiums in Hoboken, although most asking prices are open to negotiation these days, as several developers acknowledged in interviews.

Developers say that their new buildings are still selling out, if somewhat slower than in the past. (One that didn’t, the Velocity, suffered from construction delays and questions about its site near city housing projects, and switched to a rental building late last year.)

The Web service Streeteasy.com reports that waterfront properties continue to command premium prices about 30 to 35 percent above those on Hoboken’s west side, a former industrial area that was nearly unimaginable as a neighborhood only five or six years ago.

But development on the west side is continuing, fueled by interest from buyers and renters, developers say.

The Tarragon Corporation is completing its sixth residential building in the neighborhood at its eight-square-block Upper Grand development. The company now has four condominiums and two rental buildings there, and will soon break ground on the west side’s first high-rise condo.

William Rosato, Tarragon’s president, acknowledges that the market on the west side has cooled over the last two years. “It used to be that if we asked $500,000 for a condo, five buyers were standing in line to buy,” he said. “Now, if you ask $500,000, people wait to come in and begin a negotiation.”

Nevertheless, Mr. Rosato added, “Prices are holding pretty strong, as is the pace at which we sell.”

Benjamin D. Jogodnik, a vice president of Toll Brothers who runs its City Living division, said the company had sold more than 400 high-end condominiums at three Hoboken developments since late 2005, when the statewide residential market began to deflate.

There are only a handful of units left at one of those developments, Harborside Lofts, a 116-unit building with balconies and rooftop terraces. The terraces were sold separately, at prices that reached $225,000.

Mr. Jogodnik said the second buildings at both the Hudson Tea and Maxwell Place complexes are approaching completion. Both developments have had steady sales, with Maxwell Place now about 95 percent sold.

Toll Brothers is also building 10 “maisonette” town houses at Maxwell Place. The town houses have the Hudson River outside their doors, and lots of glass facing the view.

The town houses are priced about $1 million above other high-end apartments in Hoboken. The asking prices range from $2.5 million to $3.8 million, for houses that range from 2,300 to 3,800 square feet of space.

No marketing has been done since the town houses became available last fall, and work on the pier outside the windows still obstructs the view of the river from most of the unfinished condos.

“But we have sold four,” said Mr. Jogodnik. “Four in six months, at these kinds of price points, in this market? I’m O.K. with that.”

Bargaining is taking place at all price points for condos old and new, according to statistics from Streeteasy.com. While the average price of a two-bedroom apartment in Hoboken has increased 9.4 percent since the beginning of the year — to $634,917 — more than half of the two-bedrooms currently on the market have had their original asking prices reduced, by an average of 5.3 percent.

Meanwhile, the average price for a one-bedroom unit has dropped 9.3 percent since January — to $420,797 — and 40 percent of those units now on the market have had their asking prices reduced, by an average of 3.3 percent.

There are relatively few three-bedroom units in Hoboken, most of them penthouses, but the average price is up by 3.3 percent, Streeteasy.com reported, to $882,943.

More of the negotiating is occurring on the west side than on the waterfront, Streeteasy.com indicated. About 88 percent of the two-bedroom units listed on the inland side have reduced prices, taken down by an average 7.4 percent.

Still, new high-end developments keep springing up.

The Vesta Group, a developer of boutique condo buildings in TriBeCa and Chelsea in Manhattan, has just begun marketing a 16-unit project on Observer Highway on Hoboken’s south side.

Vesta is promoting the building as Hoboken’s first with video doorman technology, which allows deliveries of groceries and packages while the apartment dweller is out. Vesta is selling two- to four-bedroom units for $690,000 to $1.47 million.

Marketers of this building and others are stressing Hoboken’s walkability, and the fact that schools, shops and retailing are close at hand.

There is one residential amenity that Hoboken has been conspicuously lacking, however, ever since the last movie theater closed in 2005.

But last week, Tarragon, in partnership with Clearview Cinemas, broke ground on a five-screen theater.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s