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JERSEY CITY-Ground was broken with much fanfare in December for the Monaco, a two-tower, 50-story residential and retail development here, and now that project has gotten a major financial boost. PNC Real Estate Finance has arranged a three-year, $214-million construction loan to bankroll Monaco North Urban Renewal LLC for the project. The originally announced price tag for the project was $210 million.

Monaco North Urban Renewal LLC is actually a partnership consisting of lead developer Roseland Property Co. of Short Hills, along with the locally based Garden State Development Inc., Prudential and the Secaucus-based Hartz Mountain Industries. The funding is coming from a syndication headed by PNC Capital Markets LLC that includes six other financial institutions that were not identified. “The construction loan builds on an existing banking relationship,” says a spokesman for PNC Real Estate Finance.

The Monaco started out as a condo project, approved as such by local officials in 2007. The format was subsequently switched and re-approved as rental apartments in 2008 for market-related reasons. It’s slated for delivery in 2011, and the two towers will bring a total of 524 residential units to market, along with 12,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and a 558-space parking garage. The 2.5-acre site at the corner of Washington Blvd. and Thomas Gangemi Dr. is a former parking lot for the adjacent Doubletree Hotel, which itself continues in operation.

“The Monaco will provide a mix of residential and retail and will contribute to this city’s status not just as a gateway to Manhattan, but as a destination in its own right,” says Roseland principal Carl Goldberg.

“This project is a good example of the resiliency of this city’s housing market,” says Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy.

One question mark is the affordable housing issue. The Monaco project was originally to have contributed $700,000 to the city’s affordable housing trust fund, but in his state-of-the-state address earlier this month, Gov. Jon Corzine–citing economic conditions–proposed a one-year moratorium on the 2.5% developers’ fee mandated by COAH as a contribution for affordable housing construction. “I am additionally calling for exempting projects that were in the pipeline before the fee was instituted,” Corzine told legislators.

And this week, the state Senate Economic Growth Committee, acting on that proposal, cleared a bill that would extend the moratorium to 18 months through June 2010, as well as suspend communities’ obligation to build affordable housing during the same period. The measure awaits full Senate action, and pending that, the impact on projects like the Monaco remains unclear.

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