First of University Place residential buildings opens to public


Monica Sarmiento, Editor-in-Chief

Standing tall on the corner of West Side Avenue and University Place Boulevard is the new Rivet Apartment building.

Defined on its website as “artfully crafted apartments,” Rivet is the first residential building to open up on University Place, a five minute walk from NJCU’s main campus. The building sits on land that Aaron Aska, NJCU’s vice president for Administration and Finance, described as previously being “dystopian parking lots.”  A studio apartment starts at $1,700 a month while a 1- or 2-bedroom apartment ranges from $2,110 to $3,005 a month. There are 163 units and according to the building manager, 69 leases have been signed by mid-October. They were unable to confirm how many of those leases were signed by students, but in August there were none.

“A lot of their current leases that I know of are commuters. They work in the city and they don’t want to pay a waterfront bill so what I see here, is you take the light rail and go into the city and live here for hundreds of dollars less,” says Jeffrey Sica, president and CEO of Circle Squared Investments, one of the companies involved in the project.

University Place is a $400 million redevelopment project between Jersey City and NJCU that will result in a “total eight buildings, 1,000 new luxury residential units and access to more than 120,000 square feet of retail, a vibrant performing arts center, cafes, theaters, and lush green space” according to an NJCU press release. The project is made possible by Private-Public Partnerships (P3s), which allows the university to lease land to private developers. Rivet was developed by The Hampshire Companies and Claremont Companies and backed by Circle Squared.

Currently, two apartment buildings led by KKF University Enterprises, LLC, are under construction. According to a project report released in May 2018, this development is expected to include apartments, commercial space, retail units and parking spaces. The first phase of the project, the first 139 apartments, will be located between Route 440 and West Side Avenue and the second phase “involves the construction of two buildings with a total of 152 apartments in Carbon Place just west of West Side Avenue.”

These new luxury residential buildings have raised concern for many Jersey City locals who have been priced out by new unaffordable housing developments being built around the city in recent years.

When asked if Rivet and the growth of University Place will be a push for more affordable housing, especially for students, Councilwoman at Large Joyce E. Watterman said she believed it is. “We’re pushing for affordable housing. I sit on the Affordable Housing Trust Fund so I’m always looking for affordable housing. But what you have to understand is that when you talk about affordable housing, you’re talking about the government… Because the federal government isn’t giving much money for it [affordable housing], we partnered with the private sector to give them some type of incentives to build it for us. Because you know, everybody’s being priced out so we have to really sit down and negotiate and come up with better ideas for affordable housing. I’m all for that, because I’m a strong proponent for affordable housing. So, if I want it, I have to agree with development and agree with the incentives because I have to give it to the people.”

This story was originally printed in The Gothic Times, Issue 2 of Fall 2018.