Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando helped make Hoboken, New Jersey, famous. Now designer Michael Graves and builder Robert Toll are making the waterfront town across the Hudson River from Lower Manhattan a haven for the rich and famous.
Hoboken, a city with working-class roots, long served as a refuge of junior Wall Street analysts. Its newer residents include Governor Jon Corzine and New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, as builders convert apartments into luxury condominiums with fitness clubs, doormen and shuttles to New York City-bound trains and ferries.
Demand for condos in the square-mile city of 40,000 residents is a lifeline for builders such as Toll Brothers Inc. that are weathering a yearlong decline in the U.S. housing market. Horsham, Pennsylvania-based Toll Brothers has three condo projects under way in Hoboken. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. already has sold 33 of the 37 condo units in the W Hoboken, a luxury hotel that it plans to open next year.
Corzine, a former chief executive officer of Goldman, Sachs & Co., moved to a rental in Hudson Tea when he was divorcing in 2002. He may run state affairs from the condo or from the governor’s mansion in Princeton when he is released from the hospital following his April 12 automobile crash, said Tom Shea, his chief of staff.
At Hudson Tea, where Manning also lives, a 1,300-square-foot (120-square-meter) two-bedroom condo with cherry hardwood floors, gourmet kitchen with six-burner stove, marble bath, and 13-foot (4-meter) ceilings goes for $1.5 million. That’s about $1,154 a square foot. Manhattan condos sold for an average of $1,142 a square foot last year, according to appraiser Miller Samuel Inc.
The maritime industry crumbled in the 1970s as companies moved to bigger ports with deeper waters. A decade later, students began flocking to Hoboken for its affordable, renovated brownstones and townhouses and its easy access to New York.
Junior Wall Streeters moved in as the number of housing units in Hoboken jumped 14 percent from 1990 to 2000. The 2000 U.S. Census showed that 98 percent of the city’s housing units were occupied, 77 percent by renters.