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JERSEY CITY-Ridership on the seven-year-old Hudson-Bergen Light Rail increased 24% in the past year. New stops are being added every year, and have become hubs for numerous commercial developments. NJ-Naiop arranged a private Light Rail train up and down the Hudson coast, showing private real estate professionals what redevelopment is underway, and what is still available.

The tour started at the West Side Station, which has an 800-car parking lot but which only sees about 200 cars per day. Neal Fitzsimmons, director of light rail service planning at New Jersey Transit, says it was better to build the lot over all the land they had, rather than have a smaller lot overlooking a vacant parcel.

The Liberty State Park station, across from the just-reopened Liberty Science Center, is one of the most popular stations. Its 1,400-car lot is always full, since it’s just off of Exit 14C of the Turnpike.

The Light Rail has four stops along Jersey City’s Gold Coast, which has been shooting up since well before the Light Rail came through. PATH terminals and ferries can get commuters over to Manhattan, if their final destination isn’t one of the Gold Coast’s office towers. Frequent requests are made to construct a Light Rail stop by the Target, Fitzsimmons says.

South of the Gold Coast is the Liberty Harbor North development, which is so big it has two Light Rail tops, one on either end. Numerous other condo developments, such as Gull’s Cove, are using Light Rail stations to create transit villages from scratch.

Just north of the Gold Coast is the partially renovated Hoboken Ferry Terminal. The ornate Tiffany skylight in the public train station has six sisters along a currently dilapidated corridor. The terminal sits on wooden piers over the water, where the piers are being replaced with sturdier concrete. LCOR has been the redeveloper for the project for the past two years. Ironically, the cleaning of the Hudson River has caused some of the pier damage, since the waterborne organisms that eat away at wood weren’t thriving when the river was polluted.

Hoboken’s nexus of the Light Rail, PATH, NJ Transit trains and ferries makes it unusually well connected. “There might be five cities in the US that rival what Hoboken has here,” says Hoboken Mayor David Roberts, who met the tour at the ferry terminal. From Hoboken, the Light Rail stretches up into Weehawken, Union City and North Bergen, with further expansions under consideration.

On the other side of Jersey City, the Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor (formerly the Military Ocean Terminal) sits off the 34th Street station. It offers vast parcels of land for various development purposes, said Nancy Kist, executive director of the Bayonne Local Redevelopment Authority. Two of the terminals warehouses have been used for movie and television production (the Bourne Ultimatum, Oz), but that is not part of the long-term plan since roads are planned to run right through both building sites.

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