JERSEY CITY’S POWERHOUSE ARTS DISTRICT’S LATEST DEVELOPMENT HAS AN EYE ON DESIGN, HISTORY, AND THE ARTS
BY JENNIFER VIKSE
As many areas around Manhattan have continued to grow and prosper, Jersey City has always stood out as a city in its own right. It has a rich history, including an industrial past that’s being remembered in the design of its newest condominium building. The city’s Powerhouse Arts District gets its name from the iconic Powerhouse building, which opened in 1908 to drive the Hudson & Manhattan rail lines (predecessor to today’s PATH train), and which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. During its heyday, the district was home to well-known manufacturers and retailers, including Lorillard Tobacco, the Butler Brothers, the Great Atlantic & Pacifc Tea Company (better known as A&P), and Manischewitz. In more recent years, as industry left the area, many of the empty warehouse buildings attracted artists looking for large, lofty work spaces.
Enter The Oakman. The 14-story, industrial-inspired design pays homage to the fabric of Jersey City’s Powerhouse Arts District while offering a more intimate, boutique setting than is typically available in the high-rise residential towers that dot the city’s landscape.
“We got our inspiration from that industrial era,” explained Eyal Shuster, owner of The Shuster Group, which developed The Oakman, a new condominium building, whose units have been selling at a steady pace. He explained that in the 1920s, when industrial warehouses reigned supreme, an architect named Oakman was building and designing spaces to make the Jersey City area thrive.
“At the time, people of means were building brownstones. We asked, what would they do with their money today?”
Shuster thinks he has answered the question, “Where would Mr. Oakman live today?”
“We designed the building the way he would want to live in it,” he said.
The building consists of 159 condominium residences, set in a trendy neighborhood of repurposed warehouses, new ground-up residential buildings, artists’ spaces, and other community must-haves.
“Geographically, it’s the heart of Jersey City,” noted Shuster. “It’s in close proximity to retail, it’s a happening area. Ease of transportation, nuances, restaurants— it’s all there.”
Shuster and his team designed the building to offer everything residents could want: a 24-hour concierge, a barbecue area, kids’ playroom, washer/dryer room (there are also hook-ups in every unit), a pool, a library, a lounge, and parking.
Inside, the modern design and contemporary look of the studios and one-, two-, and three bedroom units is clean and bright.
“We went with highest end on everything,” Shuster said, adding that each unit has a custom-made hardwood floor.
From those custom-made floors to the lighting fixtures, Italianmade Pedini cabinets, and more, the units are move-in ready, and stunning. In the kitchens, appliances by makers like KitchenAid, Fisher-Paykel, Bosch, Bertazzoni, Liebherr, and Miele are just the beginning.
While half the building has that ever-coveted southern exposure, units on the north-facing half feature large balconies, from 70 to 180 square feet. “[They] allow for more light, more living space,” the developer said.
Some of the condominiums have 12-foot ceilings, and many have floor-to-ceiling windows that maximize natural light and give the units a clean look. In addition, many of the condos have casements that can be moved to promote the flow of fresh air. Other amenities include double-spray showers, free-standing tubs, and, in some units, heated flooring in the bedrooms.
In addition, there are 10 electric-car charging stations in front of the building and a room for storing bikes.
Finally, the building is involved heavily in the local arts scene, something very important to Shuster. “We want to connect to community art as much as possible,” he said, pointing out that each of the building’s 14 lobbies has a vertical gallery showcasing the work of a local artist.
Four times a year, an outside show is featured in those lobbies. The displayed pieces are for sale; 70 percent of the proceeds go to the artist, while the remainder goes to Jersey City’s Art Project, which teaches art to kids in an effort to keep them off the streets.
For Shuster, who has been developing in the area for nearly 20 years, this kind of building in Jersey City is the realization of something that never seemed possible.
“Twenty years ago, I would have said I would never build something like this here,” he said. “Now it’s like, wow! To have this kind of unit here. I’m tremendously proud to do a project of this scale.”
Atop The Oakman, a unique Villa residence is available to the right buyer. As the developer pointed out, there are height restrictions on area buildings because of the landmarked A&P building, but that takes nothing away from the breathtaking views available at the top of this one.
The Villa combines indoor and outdoor living and entertaining space on a private, split-level terrace with a heated pool. The four-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath
residence is sleekly designed, with all the high-end amenities found in units throughout the building.
“The Villa is separated, resting on top of the building. The residence presents a unique opportunity for a discerning buyer who appreciates great design, enjoys entertaining, and aspires to live an extraordinary urban lifestyle,” Shuster said. “There’s an elevator into the unit; there’s no shared space. It’s very luxurious,” he detailed of the Villa, which encompasses more than 3,300 square feet and was designed by architects at Fogarty Finger in Manhattan, who penned the new 56-unit Jackson condominium building in Long Island City.
The Villa uniquely joins both the inside and outside with its moveable facades. (“You can open to the outdoors 20 feet on one side, 30 on the other, connecting inside and outside,” Shuster explained.) It also features 2,200 square feet of private terrace and rooftop space with an 8-foot-by-9-foot infinity pool/hot tub, fireplace, outdoor shower, and seating area, plus an outdoor kitchen. “It’s the whole nine yards of entertainment.”
The interior is just as impressive. Sleek, contemporary design is accented by floor-to-ceiling windows, skylights, heated flooring, radiant heat, and Foster air-conditioning.
The custom wood floor was done by a local carpenter, and fills the entire space except the bathrooms, which are finished in European granite and marble on ceilings and walls and include stand-alone tubs, custom-designed vanities, Lefroy Brooks fixtures, and double showers.
The chef ’s kitchen has custom-designed cabinets and a marble island (with seating for five,) countertop, and backsplash. Stainless steel Miele appliances include a whole-bean coffee system, dual convection ovens, a 24-inch speed oven, a flush-mounted cooktop, dual warming drawers, and a wine storage system.
The master bedroom’s walls of windows offer stunning views, showering the room in natural light. The generous space is offset by built-ins in a dark wood finish. The lavish master bath boasts a dual sink, a free-standing tub, and a five-fixture shower. A laundry room with washer and dryer hook-ups and a powder room are also included.
In addition to the high-end touches, the Villa is equipped with the latest home technology. “It’s as smart as you can get; you can open the fireplace [in the living room] from the phone,” Shuster noted with a smile. (The Crestron home automation system can be operated both inside and outside the home via a touch panel, computer, or smartphone.)
The Oakman JC
160 1st St, Jersey City 07302
201.860.9800 / www.theoakmanJC.com
JCity Realty (Exclusive Sales Agent)
109 Christopher Columbus Drive, Jersey City
201.714.7777 / Jcityrealty.com