Developer K. Hovnanian Homes says its 48-story tower, although not LEED certified, was built with sustainability in mind. Its luxury features include designer kitchens and interiors as well as an outdoor rooftop park with swimming pool, hot tub, lounge with fire pit, jogging track, dog walk, and an indoor spa and fitness center, among others. Model homes opened in early June and the first owners moved in last month. While the building’s New York broker partnership changed in early June—it’s represented by Prudential Douglas Elliman—K. Hovnanian maintains the sales lead and has been marketing aggressively to New York and international buyers. New York House caught up with Tom Graham, senior community manager, to discuss 77 Hudson.
K. Hovnanian is a leading home builder in New Jersey. What type of presence does it have along the waterfront?
I’m [nearly] certain we are the single largest developer and deliverer of homes in the Golden Mile [from the George Washington Bridge to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge]. We are the largest builder in New Jersey; the sixth largest in the country.
What is the Gold Coast like now and where do you see it going?
This area of the New Jersey waterfront overlooking Manhattan is an urban redevelopment zone. The Colgate [toothpaste] factory used to be here. When we see first-time visitors from Manhattan their usual response is “Wow…I don’t believe it.” It’s all new. There’s a brand-new light rail service along the waterfront that stops just a block from our building. The NY Waterway ferry service is just two blocks south of the building. The PATH train is less than two blocks north. It’s very accessible to Manhattan. On the Gold Coast there’s been a very diverse array of high-rise growth that’s helped to add to this ambiance. As all these new residential and commercial buildings have gone up, all the support services have grown with them. I think there are 200 art galleries in Jersey City within eight to 10 blocks of us; we’re one block from historic Paulus Hook, with restaurants, boutiques, and nightlife. It’s not quite Manhattan, but it’s damn close.
What sets your tower apart from others?
We hired Cetra/Ruddy, a New York architectural and interior design firm behind One Madison Park and the Orion, to build what is the first true Manhattan-style building in Jersey City. The design and blue color palette set this building apart. [77 Hudson] is the first residential building in Jersey City with a two-curtain wall system. We have Carrera marble from the very quarries that da Vinci mined his David stone from. Cetra/Ruddy also selected marble from Greece, quartzite from Israel, buestone from New York. We used a very wide vocabulary of natural materials combined with Dada Italian cabinetry and fine European appliances—Bosch cooktops, Liebherr refrigerators, Miele dishwashers. Previously in this market many builders built what we like to call suburban homes in high-rise fashion. That is, they all use absolute black granite countertops and cherry wood cabinets, and all the homes are much alike. In our building, each floor has its own design vocabulary. We have three distinctively finished open-plan kitchen designs to choose from.
How far along are sales?
We’re about 30 percent of 420 homes sold. It’s a triangular building where two-thirds of the building has direct views of Manhattan. We are absorbing product equally around all three sides of the triangle and vertically up and down the building.
Who is the target buyer?
There was a target buyer; that was the young Wall Street professional. We did a lot of market research, a lot of focus groups early on. We settled on that 30-something Wall Street guy making a nice buck. Ironically, they never materialized. It’s really quite an eclectic and very diverse population. It represents the best that an urban atmosphere has to offer—buyers from China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Israel, Argentina, Mexico, South Africa, and more. The international diversity is also reflective in our local diversity. While we do have some of those Wall Street professionals, we also have a large number of physicians. Some people are here buying their fifth home. They have a home in Miami, a home in Rome, or in Paris; they don’t want to pay Manhattan dollars so they picked our property to offer them everything Manhattan has…and they’re only a few minutes away.
Can you address the affordability of 77 Hudson?
[77 Hudson is] very affordable, and that’s been the key to our success. We’ve maintained a price position very competitive to Manhattan’s. Our price per square foot is running [about] $720 a square foot. [We are] closely in touch with the Manhattan market and what our competitors are doing in like buildings. Any comparable buildings in Manhattan can’t possibly offer the views we have, and they can’t possibly afford to put in the diverse variety of amenities we have because of space. We’re offering more for your dollar. We’re giving that Manhattan buyer—who previously thought they had only Brooklyn or perhaps Long Island City as an alternative to move out of Manhattan—another alternative to seriously think about. Even in this new market, it’s still a very competitive proposition.
How important is sustainable development to your company?
It’s very important. K Hovnanian took an abandoned factory site and turned it into a beautiful property. Across its portfolio, the company recycles water, uses high-efficiency Energy Star appliances and high-efficiency glass, Although [77 Hudson] is not LEED certified, we have made every effort to be environmentally conscious in our development.
Are these important to the buyers? Not in this market.
What is more important in this market?
Square footage. We’re offering more for your money. Compared to Manhattan and the other boroughs, we give you more for your square foot dollar than our competitors.
How much discounting have you done?
In order to respond to the market, we did an across-the-board price reduction. We even extended that price reduction to our existing purchasers to protect their investment and to give them the same consideration we were giving every new people buyer.