By Caitlin Abdo
Standing at the entrance to his newest apartment building, Madox, at 198 Van Vorst Street in downtown Jersey City’s Paulus Hook neighborhood, James Caulfield, president of Fields Development Group, is like a proud parent.
Designed to be the first LEED certified residential building in Hudson County, Madox is the product of a months-long environmental clean-up to turn the former industrial warehouse that belonged to fuse manufacturer Belfuse into a new, family-friendly seven-story rental building.
Caulfield is, rightfully, proud.
“We believe we’ve created a community that will considerably raise the bar on luxury rental living in Hudson County,” he said.
Fields Development Group — a New Jersey builder whose previous projects have included the Saffron and Waldo Lofts in Jersey City and Fields Crossing in Hoboken – bought the site five years ago.
The building was razed and environmental cleansing began from the soil up. Architect Dean Marchetto designed the new 131-unit building to appeal to young renters who’ll plant roots in a community that dates back hundreds of years.
Currently one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Jersey City, with real estate prices to match, Paulus Hook was originally the site of a revolutionary war fort surrounded by marsh land. It was first developed in the early 1800s by Alexander Hamilton, and its brownstones – later turned into tenements – drew the likes of George Washington and Robert Fulton, the inventor of the steam boat ferry.
It’s location on the Hudson River later turned it into industrial hub for chemical, paint and soap factories and the sign for the Colgate toothpaste company still adorns a giant clock on the riverfront.
As its industry faded, though, local residents rallied to preserve the great houses that proliferated the neighborhood and today it enjoys a reputation as part of Downtown Jersey City’s thriving middle class community that includes Liberty Harbor, Hamilton Park and its own Financial District.
Mindful of a market still festering from the wounds of a financial collapse, Caulfield said the company designed a rental that will encourage people to settle down in the area and commit to the building.
He also believes people are much more conscious of their surrounding environment and have shown an increased desire to live in green buildings.
Rents at Madox start at $1,800 and energy efficiencies and sustainable features are reflective of Caulfield’s own environmentally conscious attitude. Walking towards the development, he reached down to pick up some stray garbage on the street and noted that Madox isn’t just an apartment building.
The company is repaving the sidewalks surrounding the building, planting trees, and returning 50 parking spots to the city. It is also filling nearby commercial space with services that meet residents needs and widen their options. Right now they’re in talks with a coffee shop, a day-care and a liquor store.
The building itself will “deliver a condo style product even though it is a rental,” Caulfield said.Targeting younger renters and starter families who can “grow roots and build a community,” Caulfield said the apartments offer “true dining room and living areas” that provide a number options for renters.
There will be studio, one and two bedroom apartments, some with dens that the developer said gives single professionals the option to add a room-mate. Others have private terraces and all of them have washer/dryers, gourmet, stainless steel kitchens and designer lighting.
Large windows throw light into the homes, which have hardwood floors and 9 ft. ceilings. “There is simply nothing comparable to Madox in today’s marketplace in terms of location, apartment features, amenities and services and intimate, community-oriented environment,” said Caulfield.“Add in the fact that the building is energy efficient, sustainable and on schedule to achieve LEED certification, we fully expect Madox to captivate the market when it officially opens.”
Green features range from motion-senor lights in each hallway and above each doorway, to water-conserving showerheads, to the solar panels on the roof and an abundance outdoor space and greenery.The rooftop offers great community appeal.
Beside the plant-masked solar panels is a deck that will house a fire-pit, grill (fueled by natural gases), tanning area, hammocks, bathroom, and outdoor showers. The third floor common balcony has a variety of amenities, including a playground for children. Caulfield said he was determined to create a “community feel and family atmosphere” and has included advanced amenities such as a library with Mac and PC access, common rooms, a yoga studio, play areas for children, and street-facing gym to “energize the landscape.”
But none of this is set in stone. Depending on who moves into the building when it officially opens for leasing October 15, Caulfield said he is open to making adjustments to common spaces, referring to them now as “flex-spaces”.
The developer is confident not only will renters come, but they will stay.“Madox will offer a unique blend of artistic living and common spaces, exciting indoor and out-door amenities and responsible development practices that will inspire people to set down roots here,” he said.