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JERSEY CITY-It’s been two decades in the making, owing to site remediation, legal challenges, an extended permitting process and other issues, but developer Peter Mocco has launched construction of the first phase of Liberty Harbor North, a 25-square-block mixed-use redevelopment on this city’s waterfront. The project will cost $2 billion to build out over the next 10 to 15 years, Mocco tells GlobeSt.com.

And that build-out will encompass a total of four million sf of office space, 750,000 sf of retail space and 6,000 multifamily units, a combination of rental and for-sale. Construction is just under way on the $200-million first phase, including 667 residential units and 80,000 sf of retail. Each residential unit will have a view of the Statue of Liberty.

“Actually, we’re zoned for more,” Mocco says. “The zoning permits more than 6,500 units, 1.2 million sf of commercial space and five million sf of office space. But sometimes your zoning permits you to build more than you can physically build. Sometimes the market doesn’t permit you to build the total envelope.”

The residential component is being handled by the Marketing Directors, based in New York City, with the first units slated for delivery by the end of this year or early next. And to find some tenants for the office and residential components, Mocco has signed a two-year exclusive with the New York City-based William B. May organization.

The first phase also includes the initial office building, a one-million-sf, 32-story tower, construction of which awaits the signing of a major tenant of at least 200,000 sf, according to George F. Donohue, president of William B. May. The project is getting some interest “from companies that want to move from New York to New Jersey,” Donohue tells GlobeSt.com. “We are definitely seeing some tire kickers right now.”

The major draw involves costs, both rent and overall occupancy. According to Donohue, the asking price for rents initially is in the $30 to 35 per-sf range, or about half the price of comparable space in Manhattan. And Mocco is “contemplating offering an equity position” in the building, as well as possible naming rights.

Besides cost factors, potential office tenants “are also looking at commuting patterns” vis-à-vis their current Manhattan locations. Donohue also calls the 75-acre site “the last piece of good property on the waterfront.”

As far as the retail component, a number of potential tenants have surfaced, although Donohue declined to identify them, other than to indicate that they were in the health club, spa, food and electronics categories. The project is also unusual in that Mocco has hired 11 different architects to carry out his site plan from a design standpoint. “There is no one single thumbprint running throughout the job,” he tells GlobeSt.com. “It is designed to be organic. Different blocks or different buildings on blocks are designed so that you have a real mix of styles, treatments and materials.

“We are looking to take the best of Manhattan’s Upper East Side and Greenwich Village and meld it into a new community that has an incredible mass transit capability and flexibility,” he explains. “We’ve integrated commercial and neighborhood into one whole, as opposed to discrete segments that are separate and apart.”