JERSEY CITY, NJ-It could be because New Jersey’s residential market is so tight and so hot. Or it could be because high prices across the river in New York City continue to drive folks to here. Or it could be both. In any case, the Lefrak Organization just opened the Southampton, a residential (rental) tower in its Newport planned community on Jersey City’s waterfront, and there’s no room in the inn–already. Most of the building was gone well before it opened, and at rents ranging from $1,400 to $2,500 a month.

“In reality, Newport has become part of Manhattan’s expanding residential and business core,” says Richard LeFrak, president of the organization founded by his father, Sam. “This community and the entire New Jersey Gold Coast have become addresses of choice for young professionals and their families.”

LeFrak does have a vested interest and a partiality to what’s going on at Newport, but the facts tend to bear out his contention. Over the past couple of decades, a planned community of 600 acres, with a total investment of more than $10 billion, has risen out of a bunch of abandoned piers and rail yards. None of that would have happened without demand. And while folks in Jersey City don’t really like the ‘New York’s sixth borough’ tag that has been pinned on them, the reality is that much of the business and residential growth along the waterfront has indeed come from across the river.

The Southampton brings Newport’s residential statistics to nine buildings (eight are rentals), 4,000 units and more than 12,000 residents. The finished Newport is expected to have upward of 9,000 residential units as well as 1,200 hotel rooms. Existing units are pre-wired for cable TV, computer data transmission and T-1 accessibility options. According to some estimates, the influx of new residents will propel Jersey City ahead of Newark as the state’s largest city in the near future, perhaps as early as when the results of the 2000 census are made official.

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