50 Aurora Place, Jersey City, NJ
1,813 Rental Residences
Development Completed : Still Ongoing
The Caven Point area of Jersey City is located on a few hundred acres, a natural feature projecting into the Hudson River. Originally rail yard, the area was contaminated by chromium tailings from manufacturing plants brought downriver on barges, and oil spills from the tank farms built later. In the early 1980’s, the state took similar land immediately north of the area and made it a park – Liberty State Park – anchored by the old Central Railroad terminal that carried millions from Ellis Island into the U.S. The hope was that this land could be reclaimed in a similar fashion.
LAZMO Petroleum Inc., a British company, and Pittston Company of Virginia owned sections of the polluted land. Because these companies were in the chain of title, the only ones still existing, they had to make good on the cleanup of the pollution. This was ultimately accomplished by our partnership to build Port Liberté.
In 1983, a company called Port Liberté Partners (PLP) designed a project to create a luxury residential complex, based on a French village called Port Liberté, with ferry access to lower Manhattan. The project suffered significant construction delays, and by 1990, it was almost a year-and-a-half behind schedule.” PLP was drowning in debt
The major lender to the original developer was City Federal Financial Corporation (City Federal Bank), which had been taken over by the federal government. The project fell into the hands of the Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC), a federally created corporation meant to dispose of the defaulted assets of failed banks as a result of the 1989-1991 national real estate recession.
“Met with Bob Cole and David. I went over the vision, the sales scripting and incentives. Cole agreed to all. I also spoke to Rusty Bayliss in Houston. We’re going to get together to discuss projections for their adjacent land and our land.”
October 17, 1994
In the early 1990’s, I began negotiations to purchase the Port Liberté project, including the land and unsold condos. Applied Development formed New Liberty Urban Renewal Associates LP and New Liberty Residential Urban Renewal Company LLC to handle the project. It was divided into three phases. In January 1994, Applied purchased the first 174 units of Port Liberté and began the construction and completion of Phase I. The price structure was adjusted downward and the existing units were auctioned off. By the end of 1994, a marketing and sales program was in full swing, as was construction of the remaining Phase I units.
"I went to Hyannis, Massachusetts with David Barry and Josh Wuestneck, and had a two-hour meeting with Paul Fireman, the former owner of Reebok (potential money partner for the golf course) at Willowbend.”
November 14, 1994
In 1996, PLP sold its remaining holdings to an Applied affiliate for $7 million. Phase II of construction began, and included more residential units and a golf course incorporating 35 acres of contaminated Army land. Applied also received an approved ferry use, along with parking for 300 cars. In addition to the new redevelopment entity, Applied partnered with LAZMO Oil & Gas and the Pittston Compan, to form Liberty National Development Company LLC, whose purpose was to develop the golf course.
"The Applied Companies were designated Redeveloper of the Caven Point Peninsula area of Jersey City, just south of Liberty State Park. In support of this master plan, Applied enlisted the cooperation and financial support of three former polluters of the area: LASMO, Pittston and PPG.”
January 10, 1995
Ultimately the Liberty National Corporation acquired the contaminated land owned by the U.S. Army. A major section of Caven Point Road was also purchased, and over the next several years the construction of residential units in Port Liberté continued, as well as the construction of the Liberty National Golf Course. Phase III of the development plan includes commercial and mixed-use development adjunct to approximately 1,300 residential units. To date, 1,100 units have been completed, and the development of Port Liberté continues.
"David and I met with Andy Crouch. We discussed the theory for Liberty State Park and its golf course. We agreed that the first step would be to try to get a golf feasibility from somebody to see what we could do before we raise expectation.”
June 19, 1997
Today Port Liberté is a new urban community in Jersey City built on reclaimed land that was once desolate and contaminated. It has a ferry service directly to New York City and a New Jersey Transit bus line connecting Port Liberté residents with Grove Street PATH. This was the first major project managed by my son, David. He has become, as a result, the Jersey City expert for all subsequent projects.