Jonathan Kushner Tells YIMBY Journal Squared’s Three Skyscrapers Will Fully Open by 2024, More

Journal Squared, rendering by HWKNJournal Squared, rendering by HWKN

When it comes to new construction in Jersey City’s Journal Square, no firm is more prominent than Kushner Real Estate Group, which has continued development of the massive Journal Squared complex with the recent ground-breaking of the project’s second skyscraper, now climbing above ground level. YIMBY spoke with the firm’s eponymous president, Jonathan Kushner, to discuss the site and its impending second and third towers, KREG’s general portfolio growth, as well as Mr. Kushner’s outlook on the state of the neighborhood and the local market.

YIMBY in bold.

With 16,000 apartments either built or in the works, momentum seems to be on your side. When do you expect to hit 20,000 total units?

KRE Group has built nearly 10,000 apartments in the Tri-State Area and we have another 6,000 units in the pipeline. We’re currently on track to deliver roughly 1,000 units each year. These apartments are located in both urban and suburban areas across New Jersey and in Pennsylvania.

Jonathan Kushner, President of Kushner Real Estate Group

Journal Squared is already transforming the surrounding neighborhood. When did you acquire that site and how many more years will we have to wait until all three towers are finished?

KRE began assembling the Journal Squared site in 2007. When finished, the mixed-use development, which is designed by Hollwich Kushner and Handel Architects, will bring a total of 1,840 rental apartments to Journal Square, a transit-centric neighborhood on the brink of a major revitalization. We broke ground on the first tower in 2014 and opened it to residents in 2017. Last year, we broke ground on the second tower, which will top out at 70 stories, making it the tallest of the three buildings. It’s slated to open in 2021, and we expect to break ground on the third tower that same year. If this cycle continues, the entire development should reach completion by 2024.

With construction already progressing on Phase II of Journal Squared, it seems as though the neighborhood is successfully absorbing the new inventory. Beyond Journal Squared, do you have plans for additional developments in the vicinity?

Demand for luxury apartments in Journal Square is very high. For example, the first Journal Squared tower, which consists of 538 apartments ranging in size from studios to three bedrooms, was fully leased in less than 10 months. On the heels of this success, KRE is currently under contract for additional sites in the neighborhood with plans to build. We’re constantly looking for new opportunities in the area.

What implications do you think the slow and steady resurgence of Downtown Newark will have on the cities in between Newark and Manhattan?

We’re delighted by the resurgence of Downtown Newark. This revitalization will only have positive effects on New Jersey as a whole. For example, we’ve seen an uptick in interest for our Jersey City properties—in particular at 485 Marin, a 397-unit luxury rental development in Hamilton Park—from prospective renters who’ve recently taken jobs in Newark, but enjoy the lifestyle that Jersey City affords.

SOMA Newark

SOMA Newark circa 2030, image by Richard Meier & Partners

On a related note, do you see Newark being the next logical step in the building boom that first encompassed Downtown Jersey City and then Journal Square?

It’s difficult to say because I’m not familiar enough with the Newark market. But similar to Jersey City, Newark’s proximity to Manhattan is a major selling point for developers and investors. Newark is a reviving urban center that certainly has the potential for substantial growth in the coming years.

Journal Squared, rendering by HWKN

Journal Squared, rendering by HWKN

The tallest buildings in both New York and New Jersey, by roof height, will soon be residential (Central Park Tower and 99 Hudson Street). With Phase II of Journal Squared currently set to be the tallest component of that development, what is stopping you from trying to break the new record on the waterfront with Phase III, especially with the success you have already seen?

KRE aims to build financially viable projects that make sense for the location and surrounding community. It’s not about being the biggest or the tallest—we don’t build to set records.

Come 2040, do you think Journal Square will retake its mantle as Jersey City’s focal point from the waterfront?

I hope it happens earlier than 2040!

An additional concern regarding the above is sea level rise. Jersey City’s waterfront, and Hoboken, are very prone, and are likely to be substantially flooded by the end of this Century without human intervention. Do the arduous infrastructure requirements for protection against this threat offer an additional indicator of Journal Square’s relative resurgence versus Downtown?

It’s imperative that we protect our communities from the effects of sea level rise and flooding. I can’t say if, or when, the Jersey City and Hoboken waterfronts will experience substantial flooding. However, we’ve designed and built all of our projects, regardless of location, to withstand the test of time. Building for the short-run is never an option. I don’t find infrastructure requirements to be arduous. These safeguards are an extremely necessary and important part of the planning process.

What else are you working on at the moment?

In the fall of 2018, we opened 485 Marin, the newest and largest rental development in Hamilton Park, and we’re extremely pleased with the project’s success to date—485 Marin is now more than 90% leased. As part of this development, we built Marin Green, a new public park that includes more than an acre of green space for the community to enjoy. It opened in November.

485 Marin Avenue

485 Marin, by Hollwich Kushner / HWKN

In addition to our ground-up residential developments, my brother-in-law Jeremy Kaplan and I have spent the past ten years focusing on the growth of KRE’s in-house capabilities. We intend to continue growing all sides of these operations, including building and construction management. We’ve also focused on acquiring existing garden-style apartment properties throughout the state of New Jersey. We’re able to improve these properties through capital investments such as unit renovations and amenities upgrades, as well as improved property management. These apartment buildings are located in highly desirable neighborhoods where brand new rental inventory is limited.

Last summer, we acquired Thousand Oaks Village in Atlantic Highlands—now Atlantic Pointe—and recently brought the first of our new, modernized units to the market. In the spring of 2017, we purchased Summit Hill, a 228-unit apartment property in Springfield. Since then, we’ve made substantial improvements, including the addition of a new clubhouse for residents. That same year, we also purchased Addison at Princeton Meadows, a 439-unit rental property in Plainsboro, which is now under our management and is being renovated.

Are you content with New Jersey, or is expansion to New York in the cards for KRE’s future?

New Jersey has been great to our family and we’ll continue to be great to New Jersey. However, KRE is also investing in sites and projects outside of the New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania markets. We’re looking into major markets around the country and look forward to announcing these projects and bringing them to fruition.

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29 Comments on "Jonathan Kushner Tells YIMBY Journal Squared’s Three Skyscrapers Will Fully Open by 2024, More"

  1. Please pardon me for using your space: What was I doing in the progress when you reported?, thanks to Nikolai Fedak that on the closed to latest developments and future. I want to say aloud I like towers on waterfront if sea level not flooded.

  2. Kushner, where have I heard that name?

    • they are one the most un-American families in headlines. they dont like to pay taxes and they love to hoard money at the expense of everyone else. great lineage.

      • Yeah Ocacio Cortez people are true American, right, they are sucking our Welfare, Food Stamps for those who really needed them, they now dreamed that our Country can support another 30 million illegal immigrants here, and wanted Medicare for All and minimum salary of $19 per hour, with unemployment rate about same percentage also, 19% for minimum then, and debt at least extra 35 trillion to existing one at, 23 trillion dollars. Wait then our dollars became true worthless toilet paper, at 10 cent of current 2018-19 level worth.

      • “For those who really need this”, must be read as “instead of those who really need them”

    • A “jew”, uhmm, where I am herd this. In Nazi Germany, troll!!!

    • Btw, you heard “Juden” in your comment, no matter it’s about Trump, MAGA, Kushners, are you a NeoNazi???

    • Your beloved demon rat national socialist and fascist “antifa”, you are just proved that you liked them, plus you are antisemitic too!!! Congratulation, you deserve a rank of untersturmfuck!!!

  3. Great interview!

    I had a crazy thought the other day that we approach city planning and ask them to change Zone 1 of the Journal Square plan from a max density of 25 to 30. That minor change would have big real world impacts. Phase III could very well rise to tallest in the city as a result if the market remains as strong as it does. These buildings are having a very positive impact on the area with new retail opening up and more “eyes on the street” for better safety. I guess YIMBY and I think alike — phase III could be the tallest of the bunch.

    I guess the risk of planning board approval, renegotiation with the JCRA, renewal of the abatement, and FAA concerns make it too risky.

    The other thought I have is to extend Zone 1 so it encompasses more of JFK Blvd.

    • you should like a little kid who just got a new bike for his 10th birthday. Yay greed and corruption!!! YAY!!!

      • I see the crazies are out in full force today. If you’re truly a Jersey City taxpayer, you should be happy to see luxury condos and apartments being built as they generate more in property taxes or PILOT revenue for the city than they cost to service. (In fact, the city often times receives more revenue from a building with a Payment-in-lieu of Taxes than it would under normal property taxation.) In any event, the revenue received by the city for the plots of land are much higher now with the Journal Squared development than the vacant land and dilapidated buildings that existed before. Also, since the costs to the city to service this development are much less than the revenue it receives from it, the net effect is a lower property tax rate come budget time.

        There is also the quality of life improvements. The changes to Journal Square in the last 5 years have been incredible. Previously, it was kind of a depressing place with abandoned buildings and few high quality retail. The only thing it had going was Journal Square Pub and the PATH train to New York. The Journal Squared development has revitalized the area and brought in new shops and jobs. The changes are all thanks to the Journal Square 2060 plan. It’s been a long time coming. Anyone local understands that but there are plenty of outsiders that like to come in and attack the success.

    • These buildings are having a very positive impact on the area? By dodging taxes? With some templated, plastic culture? Just look at grove. The area lacks character, so do the new people. It’s culture and people in a box. Yuck

  4. Yay more wealthy get tax breaks while our infrastructure crumbles and our government is in shambles. This guy is actually proud of himself. If you want to leave something to your grandchildren, leave behind a legacy of excellence, not greed and oligarchy. Gross. just gross. Where is our government? Caught up in the greed too. No true leaders left and citizens are in shambles. We are all to blame for this.

    • The buildings rising in Journal Square are rentals, and are actually legitimately affordable market-rate housing built and occupied WITHOUT utilizing a lottery system. There is nothing more American than providing equality of opportunity and this project does exactly that.

      • Exactly, simple people when heard “Kushner” name, just start anti-Trump remarks without realizing that in this case about just new real estate development in once deserted rundown towns, in what no investors even thought worthy for invest a dime for it.
        Come on people, start hate, this site unpolitical, leave your democratic socialist millennium minds down when commenting in this site. Btw, why you hell come here, since democratic socialist politics wanted turn whole America into Newark circa 1968!!!!

      • Sorry, wrote “start hate”, must be read as “STOP HATE”.

    • Leave your comments for West New York, NJ or Oranges, NJ. You want again Newark and Jersey City turned down to their circa 1968???? Really???

  5. Good, long awaited middle class project what will turn true downtown of Jersey City into same desirable place as now Newport and Exchange Place, Marina Blvd in Jersey City Waterfront Residential and Financial District.

  6. There is absolutely no excuse that you cannot find a good paying jobs when Economy on the rise since 2012, I can thank Obama too for that, even I’m avid Trump supporter. And since that we have unprecedent rise up different office and residential developments across the country, just look around, we are in Binge of Construction Boom, everywhere, in NYC, NJ, Orlando, Miami, LA, Philadelphia, Chicago, we constructing huge projects, building new infrastructure, opening new light rail systems in almost unbelievable scale. And it’s funny that people are complaining still. Come on, this administration lowered your medical premiums, lowered your taxes, make you opportunity to find better high paying jobs, just look around, millions of middle class people are driving 2018 even 2019 cars, look employee parking in Walmart, in Target, more and more Americans taking cruises, staying in midrange hotels like Comfort inn when they are vacationing, willing to pay for expensive tickets for amusement parks, just in Universal Park, they built 3 new play areas, now building 1000s hotel rooms nearby on Universal Blvd, This After Recession period created more middle class jobs, than it was created since in 1990-2007!!! Built more housing than it was built in the 1990-2007, and more affordable housing units were created after 2011 than it was built in whole 1960s!!! Come on, take true facts, not just what socialist Utopian new politician zombied you!!! And same politicians are against Amazon HQ2 in LIC, they want that new HQ2 will be built in Brazil instead!!!

  7. Please get back to concentrating on New York developments. Enough of New Jersey already.

  8. So much heat, not much light …

  9. They look like miniature versions of 432 Park, yuk.

  10. it’s all about money and influence to some people. it’s not mutually exclusive: the kushners are crooks and the project is still good for jersey city.

  11. It’s kind of funny how the green awnings “respond” to the staggering of the tower above (485 Marin)

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