Real Estate

NJIT renames College of Architecture and Design for Hilliers, icons in profession

New Jersey Institute of Technology announced Tuesday it is renaming its College of Architecture and Design for renowned architects J. Robert and Barbara A. Hillier, in recognition of a gift from the Hilliers that represents the largest donation in NJIT’s history.

The gift will provide support for student scholarships, faculty development, state-of-the-art technology, physical space improvements, high-impact educational experiences and curricular innovation.

The J. Robert and Barbara A. Hillier College of Architecture and Design at NJIT was formally announced on campus following NJIT’s undergraduate commencement ceremony at the Prudential Center in Newark.

“The Hilliers are icons in the world of architecture, and we are incredibly proud to have this school carry their name,” NJIT President Joel S. Bloom said.

“Their involvement with and support of NJIT have been extensive and incredibly valuable over the course of many years, and this gift will have a transformative effect on our students, faculty and research within the areas of architecture and design.”

During the 1990s, the Hilliers’ firm designed the architecture school at NJIT that will now bear the Hillier name. The project incorporated open and closed studios; an exhibition and conference gallery; high head-room space for construction, structural and materials testing; and long views of Newark and Manhattan.

Illuminated at all hours to allow students to work around the clock, the building is referred to as “the lantern on the hill.” It won the firm a New Jersey Chapter Design Award from the American Institute of Architects.

NJIT President Joel Bloom alongside J. Robert and Barbara A. Hillier, center.

“NJIT is very forward-thinking in everything that it does. I believe that architecture needs to look forward as a profession, more today than ever before. This inspired us to think that NJIT would be a good place to support the future of architecture,” J. Robert Hillier said.

“Our hope is that this support will improve access to architectural education and advance architectural research at NJIT, which is a major research university. This gift really matters to NJIT, and that means a lot to Barbara and me.”

Barbara Hillier agreed.

“I think the leadership at NJIT is very special,” she said. “They have been looking for ways to enhance the programs they have, not just in architecture, but in other disciplines as well. And they really embrace all of their students and provide them with a very strong education from which to launch their careers.”

The Hilliers, both architects, are co-founders and principals of Studio Hillier LLC, located in Princeton. Their precedent firm, Hillier Architecture, was the third-largest strictly architectural firm in the country and was identified by the magazine Architectural Record as one of the best-managed firms in the U.S.

Their interdisciplinary design firm counts hospitals, corporate headquarters, universities, independent schools, arts centers and museums, and residential properties among its many projects around the world. The Hilliers have received more than 300 state, national and international design awards for their commitment to “place, sustainability and the built environment,” while also offering expertise in master planning, urban land use strategy and historic preservation.

Among their many notable commissions are the 5 million-square-foot Sprint world headquarters in Overland Park, Kansas, the Sydney Harbour Casino in Australia, the Las Colinas Convention Center in Irving, Texas, and the World Headquarters for GlaxoSmithKline in London. The firm was also the executive architect and interior designer for the Louis Vuitton Tower on 57th Street in Manhattan. Their historical restoration work includes the U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington and the Virginia State Capitol.

In the educational arena, the Hilliers have worked for over 100 colleges and universities, including Princeton, Yale, Cornell, Columbia and Brown of the Ivy League, as well as Duke, Howard, Penn State, Mount Holyoke and Bryant University, where they designed the original Tupper Campus.

Their firm has designed 17 private international schools and has done several buildings on the campuses of the Peddie School and the Lawrenceville School. In their hometown, they were responsible for the design of the Princeton Medical Center in association with HOK and the Princeton Public Library, one of approximately 40 libraries they have designed across the country.

Like his late father, James Hillier, the director of research for RCA, who developed the first working electron microscope as a graduate student, J. Robert Hillier is a recipient of an honorary degree from NJIT. He also received the NJIT President’s Medal for Lifetime Achievement in 2009 and the AIA’s Michael Graves Lifetime Achievement Medal in 2007. He was named New Jersey’s Entrepreneur of the Year by Inc. Magazine in 1989.

As a member of the core faculty at Princeton University’s School of Architecture, J. Robert Hillier has lectured extensively throughout the United States at schools of architecture and to AIA chapters. He is a member of the board of overseers of the Foundation at NJIT and has served on the board of visitors of the university’s Albert Dorman Honors College since 1996, when he was its first chairman.

Barbara Hillier has received many honors for her architectural work, including numerous AIA awards and the distinguished Chicago Athenaeum American Prize for Architecture. She has lectured and served on design juries at the University of Virginia, the University of Pennsylvania, Cornell University and Temple University, among other academic institutions. Her work has been featured in such prestigious publications as the New York Times, Architecture + Design and Metropolis.

The College of Architecture and Design at NJIT was established as the New Jersey School of Architecture in 1973, in response to an AIA National Advisory Committee recommendation to build a public school of architecture in Newark, and with approval from the New Jersey State Board of Higher Education.

The college was granted accreditation in 1978 and has since expanded its academic and research offerings with undergraduate degree programs in architecture, interior design, digital design and industrial design, and graduate-level programs in architecture and infrastructure planning. It continues to play an integral role in architectural and design education in New Jersey and the region.

NJIT Provost and Senior Executive Vice President Fadi P. Deek said the gift will have great impact.

“The Hilliers’ generosity will have a lasting impact on the quality of architecture and design education at NJIT for future researchers, practitioners and leaders,” he said. “Their gift will allow us to further invest in people, faculty and students, while also promoting innovative programs and research.”

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Newark is 1st city to get Opportunity Zone grant aimed at socially responsible investment

Newark has been awarded a grant of nearly $1 million from the Rockefeller Foundation and Prudential Financial as part of an initiative to help U.S. cities attract responsible private investment in economically distressed communities through Opportunity Zones.

The initiative is part of the Rockefeller Foundation’s U.S. Jobs and Economic Opportunity program focused on expanding economic opportunity for low-income Americans through policy, partnership and place-based transformation.

The foundation said the initiative aims to make it easier for cities to attract and responsibly deploy some of the more than $6 trillion of unrealized capital gains that could qualify for investment in Opportunity Zones.

The grant, the first of six the Rockefeller Foundation plans to announce, will total $920,000. It will be administered through the Newark Alliance.

In addition to funding a chief opportunity officer position and two community engagement specialists, each city also will receive two years of support in the form of a national Opportunity Zone Technical Assistance team to compile and leverage local, state and federal incentives, and help structure and support deals.

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka was thrilled the city received the grant.

“The only way to make sure the ‘opportunity’ in Opportunity Zones benefits all Newark residents is to intentionally focus resources to ensure it happens,” he said in a release. “I am so pleased that, through the support of our longtime partner in progress, Prudential, Newark was able to be the first city in the Rockefeller Foundation initiative.”

Lata Reddy, Prudential’s senior vice president of diversity, inclusion and impact, said the program embodies what Prudential believes in.

“Prudential is committed to maximizing the potential impact of the Opportunity Zone program to spur catalytic investments in our hometown of Newark,” she said. “By providing capital, as well as our expertise from our other Newark redevelopment and Opportunity Zone projects, we will help close the gap between inequality and opportunity as the city grows.

“Our partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation is a crucial step toward ensuring that inclusive, responsible investment benefits all Newark residents and communities.”

Rajiv J. Shah, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, said his group sees the enormous potential the Opportunity Zone program brings.

“Opportunity Zones have the potential to unlock billions of dollars in innovative job creation and community infrastructure private investment in cities, lifting up Americans who most need this support and preventing their displacement by irresponsible development,” he said.

“Philanthropy has an important role to play in ensuring opportunity zones improve the lives of the residents in distressed communities. Starting with Newark, the Rockefeller Foundation will help empower communities to attract and implement investments that will provide real economic mobility to the greatest numbers of disadvantaged people.”

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Audible says new facility symbolizes Newark’s history, company’s innovation

The grand opening of a new facility has begun a new chapter for Audible, its employees, New Jersey business leaders and the greater Newark community.

Audible founder and CEO Don Katz, elected officials, business leaders, employees and members of the Newark community came together Friday to celebrate the grand opening of the company’s Innovation Cathedral. Once home to the Second Presbyterian Church, a congregation founded in 1811, the cathedral will now serve as an office facility for 400 Audible employees.

Audible did not immediately clarify whether the employees would be new hires, or moved from another facility and where.

The Innovation Cathedral, aligned with Audible’s goals to support students, interns and entrepreneurs and grow a tech ecosystem, seeks to revitalize the growing Newark business community.

Katz said the Innovation Cathedral was a proud landmark for Newark and a powerful symbol of Audible’s commitment to the city for over a decade.

“We have defined ourselves by the strategic pursuit of what a successful company can mean in ways that transcend what it does — and today is proof that our efforts are yielding positive outcomes for business and invention culture, for the many talented people who want to work with us and for the comeback of this great American city,” he said. “Doing the right thing is a responsibility all corporations must take seriously — and that companies anchored in cities like Newark have an obligation to lead.”

Built in 1933, the 80,000-square-foot cathedral was reimagined to maintain its historical elements while also reflecting a modern and innovative workplace. Its distinctive stained-glass windows and organ pipes remain, but new additions include game areas, an auditorium, a refurbished bowling alley, an exhibit space, work cafes and lounges.

Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka said the cathedral embraced the future of Newark while also symbolizing its preserved history.

“Audible’s restoration of this historic landmark into a center of innovation and tech job creation — including jobs for Newarkers — is one powerful example of the over $4 billion in economic development occurring across the city today, but it is so much more,” he said. “It is emblematic of a company with a moral compass driving inclusive growth, elevating our students with educational tools and internships, and supporting the local economy by living local and buying local.”

When Audible’s headquarters made the move to Newark in 2007, it became the city’s fastest-growing private employer, with 1,650 full-time employees. The company’s mission seeks to catalyze Newark residents by offering jobs and training programs, as well as incentives including housing subsidies for employees who choose to move to the city from elsewhere.

Katz said that moving Audible to Newark was one of the best decisions the company has made.

“In addition to our growth, the economic impact and job creation catalyzed by Audible and Newark Venture Partners is a call to arms for other companies who are joining us and who should join us here to thrive as we have,” he said. “Continuing to invest in Newark is as important as anything else we do.”

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Tattoo studio signs lease for Pennsauken property

A tattoo studio has signed a long-term lease for a retail building in Pennsauken, according to Vantage Real Estate Services.

Vantage said 168 Tattoo has leased the 3,700-square-foot property at 7017 Route 38. The upscale custom tattoo studio is owned and operated by Leah and Rick Fichter.

“I am absolutely in love with the new shop,” Leah Fichter said in a prepared statement. “It’s perfect in so many ways. I will be so proud once the doors open. This building need us and we need it.”

Marlton-based Vantage’s Monica Walsh, executive vice president, represented both the tenant and the landlord, Allen L. Gilber LLC, in the transaction.

“From the bottom of my heart, you have a special place in it, (Monica),” Fichter said. “You have been amazing.”

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How success of Kearny Point project was key to $3M infrastructure grant for Kearny

The town of Kearny has received a $3 million federal grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s Public Works program to redevelop and improve Hackensack Avenue into a high performing “green” street, seeing as the stretch of roadway serves as the primary entranceway to Kearny Point, a collection of more than 3 million anticipated square feet of coworking and flexible-use office space on 130 acres in South Kearny.

“To say that I am impressed with the local vision and the collaboration taking place here would be an understatement,” John Fleming, U.S. assistant secretary of commerce for economic development, said Thursday on site at Kearny Point. “Through your efforts, this land is being reborn as a center for the pioneering companies of the new economy, providing a flexible, modern workplace and home to a diverse community of today’s creators.”

The EDA’s investment also will be matched by $1.3 million in local funds, Fleming added.

Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos, from left, with John Fleming, assistant secretary of commerce, Hugo Neu CEO Wendy Kelman Neu and Hugo Neu Director of Development Mike Meyer.

“This is the type of true public-private partnership that the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Economic Development Administration is eager to invest in,” he said.

Fleming attributed the success of one of the largest adaptive reuse projects in the country to Wendy Kelman Neu, chairman and CEO of New York City-based Hugo Neu Corp., with the ongoing redevelopment representing an expected $1 billion in public and private investment into the site over the next decade.

Hugo Neu Corp., a recognized global leader in recycling, is the owner and redeveloper of Kearny Point.

“It is through your commitment and wisdom that this former maritime facility is being transformed into a cutting-edge, world-class innovation district and manufacturing hub,” Fleming said.

Neu said the announcement Thursday marked the celebration of an incredible milestone not only for Kearny Point but also for the long-term economic development goals of Kearny, as the funding goes toward a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act-designated Opportunity Zone.

“We would not be here today without the hard work of the many stakeholders that understand that in addressing the infrastructural needs to support growing businesses at Kearny Point, we can take critical and meaningful steps to protect and enhance our natural environment,” she said.

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said the federal grant was a wise investment in New Jersey infrastructure.

“The modernization of Hackensack Avenue will not only safeguard the area from future storm-related flooding, but will strengthen pedestrian and biker safety and lay the foundation for the economic revitalization and improved quality of life that this community deserves,” Booker said in a statement.

According to Mike Meyer, director of development at Hugo Neu Corp., the redevelopment of the roadway will include the planting of more than 20,000 square feet of grass, plants and trees; the creation of designated paths for both pedestrians and cyclists; new street light poles; and the implementation and improvement of overhead electric services and underground gas distribution system piping.

Designed by Bohler Engineering and Arterial Design Studio, the project also will reduce flooding and limit nonpoint pollution of the Hudson-Raritan watershed by rebuilding the roadway’s underground water distribution, stormwater and sewer systems.

Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos said the roadway improvements, which are expected to be completed within a year and a half, are just the beginning.

“We will be submitting more applications and we will be able to show you results,” Santos said. “Bringing old industrial centers back to life to create more jobs should be our collective goal irrespective of state or party.

“We should be about economic growth in a responsible way that creates jobs — and Kearny Point is meeting that challenge.”

Kearny Point is the modern answer to developing the new economy, Neu said, made possible by the scrap metal trading business her late husband, John Neu, started with his father, Hugo Neu, in 1947.

Through various subsidiaries, Hugo Neu Corp. had developed more than 9 million square feet of industrial properties in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and California over its many decades in business, including the former Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. warehouse and distribution facilities in South Kearny.

Building 78 at Kearny Point.

When Hurricane Sandy left the site under four feet of water in 2012, the Neus decided to demolish and construct newer industrial buildings for distribution and logistics purposes. But with the passing of her husband in 2013, Wendy Kelman Neu, who had been working for Hugo Neu Corp. since 1980, unexpectedly assumed complete control of the historic riverfront site.

Neu ultimately decided to partner with Steve Nislick, former CEO of Edison Properties and now chief financial officer of Hugo Neu Corp., to reposition the company to invest, build and manage innovative businesses in recycling and real estate, starting in 2015 with the renovation and construction of four floors of flexible-use office space between 200 and 3,000 square feet at Building 78, a 200,000-square-foot building at Kearny Point.

Starting at nearly $500 per month, small to medium-sized businesses now have 24/7 access not only to high-quality, scalable office space in which to grow, but also coworking space, rooftop event space, a café and bar, internet technology services, printer, scanner and copier services and package delivery and receipt services for a fraction of the cost of what they would find in New York City, Newark, Hoboken or Jersey City, Nick Shears, director of leasing and marketing for Hugo Neu Realty Management, said.

Having reached more than 95 percent occupancy within a year and a half without the use of brokers in 2017, Building 78 at Kearny Point now hosts more than 200 businesses and nearly 500 employees, Shears added, with the majority of tenants being women- and minority-owned companies.

Building 78 has proven so successful, in fact, that an annex consisting of 90,000 square feet of small flexible-use office space is currently being constructed to expand the building’s footprint by the end of this year.

According to Hugo Neu Corp. representatives, subsequent phases of the project will also involve the renovation and demolishment of older buildings on-site to create more than 3 million square feet of WELL AP-certified flexible-use office space ranging from 200 to 10,000 square feet; the construction of a gathering hall with retail and dining components; a waterfront park and living shoreline at the confluence of the Hackensack and Passaic Rivers; an outdoor amphitheater; and more than 25 acres of open space for both the tenants and the public.

The goal, Neu said, is to create nearly 10,000 jobs on site.

“But this is much larger than 130 acres,” she said. “What we hope to do here is create a model in Kearny that then will be transferable to other locations.”

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Juniper adds Pa. senior housing community to its portfolio

Bloomfield-based Juniper Communities has added to its portfolio of managed and owned senior housing communities, with the acquisition of a Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, residence.

The Terrace at Chestnut Hill adds 70 personal care units and 33 memory care units to Juniper’s portfolio, becoming the company’s 12th senior housing building in Pennsylvania.

“We are very excited to extend our signature programs to benefit residents and their families, the team of associates and the professional health care community,” Juniper founder and CEO Lynne S. Katzmann said in a prepared statement.

The community employs 95 people, and Juniper said it is striving to retain them.

“Expanding our presence in the Pennsylvania market enables Juniper to consolidate market share and pilot additional ancillary services within a concentrated hub,” Katzmann said.

The property at 495 E. Abington Ave., will now operate as The Terrace at Chestnut Hill, a Juniper Managed Community.

Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

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Excel Physical Therapy expands into Essex County

Hackensack-based Excel Orthopedic Physical Therapy, a provider of orthopedic physical therapy, announced Monday it has opened a new office at the former site of the historic Livingston retailer Sams Fine Men’s Clothing.

The 6,500-square-foot office, located at 555 S. Livingston Ave., is Excel’s first in Essex County and its largest of the company’s 15 offices, it said. It will feature functional training and a cardiovascular equipment area as well as an enclosed turf for sports-specific training.

“We’re looking forward to joining the tightknit Livingston community and bringing EXCEL’s years of experience and attention to high quality care and patient satisfaction to Essex County,” Excel CEO Gary Flink said. “What makes this particular clinic even more special is that we’re occupying a building with decades worth of rich New Jersey history.”

Maurice Cohen, co-owner of Sams Fine Men’s Clothing, said: “(My cousin and Sams co-owner) Jeffrey and I would like to welcome the Excel Physical Therapy team to their new home at 555 S Livingston Ave — the former location of Sams Fine Men’s Clothing. We feel that Excel’s entrance into Essex County will mesh with the fabric of the community. Sams always made you look good and now Excel PT will make you feel good.”

Financial and other terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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Bihler of America expands with new 103K sq.ft. facility in Phillipsburg

Bihler of America, a provider of complex components manufacturing and machines, announced recently it has opened a new, 103,000-square-foot facility in Phillipsburg.

The multiuse operations building, built in partnership with Iron Hill Construction Management, is adjacent to Bihler’s two existing manufacturing plants.

Construction on the building began in April 2018 and it became fully operational in the first quarter of 2019. All three buildings, Bihler said, total 350,000 square feet.

Bihler said what drove the expansion was an increase in contract manufacturing and automation projects.

“The new building has more than half of its total output capacity committed to already, with plenty of space for the expanded manufacturing needs of our customers,” Max Linder, director of sales and marketing, Bihler of America, said.

The new facility houses assembly areas for Bihler 4 Slide-NC machines, Bihler said, expanding the company’s ability to deliver  products efficiently to its customers. It also has LED lighting throughout for energy efficiency.

“The re-shoring trend that began several years ago remains strong, and general economic indicators predict this ongoing rise in manufacturing will continue,” Linder said. “Bihler’s capabilities for advanced manufacturing, services and equipment have been significantly expanded to accommodate this continuing demand for U.S.-based manufacturing.”

Bihler also said as part of the expansion, it will add more than 50 new workers at the facility to manage and operate it.

“We’re constantly searching for outstanding, talented people, especially experienced machine operators and electricians, as well as people with hands-on manufacturing experience,” Linder said.

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Vantage RES announces sale of office condo in Marlton

Vantage RES announced Friday the sale of an office condominium located in the Pavilions at Greentree in Marlton.

Ken Richardson, sales associate at Vantage RES, represented and negotiated on behalf of the buyer, MR3 Enterprises LLC. The building was listed with the Flynn Group.

The Pavilions at Greentree, located at 651 Route 73, consists of multiple condo units and is within close access to Interstate 95, Route 70, Virtua Hospital and various retail complexes and restaurants.

MR3 Enterprises, a petroleum company, needed to relocate to a larger facility to accommodate its headquarters.

“Vantage was responsive and professional from the first call. They met our scheduling needs, touring property at nights and on weekends” Param Mahli, managing member, MR3, said. “Vantage listened to our requirements and gave us every option and ultimately guided our decision.”

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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University Place, transformative project on Jersey City’s West Side, celebrates another milestone

They brought 10 shovels to the ceremonial groundbreaking.

They didn’t have enough.

Generations ago, that may have led to a cliché joke about Hudson County. Wednesday morning, on the West Side of Jersey City, it represented just how many officials from top companies, as well as higher education and governmental agencies, are working together to start the second phase of the transformational University Place project.

This groundbreaking was for the start of Rivet 2, which will feature 199 residential units and approximately 10,000 feet of service-oriented ground retail.

File photo
A rendering of the University Place project in Jersey City.

The unit follows the success of Rivet 1, a 163-unit luxury apartment building that opened last summer and already is more than 80 percent full.

The two buildings are part of a master plan that calls for an eight-building live-work-play (and learn) destination that will feature more than 1,000 residential units, 120,000 square feet of retail, a state-of-the-art performing arts center (which will house the Joffrey Ballet School — coming over from New York City), cafes, three upscale restaurants and plenty of green space.

For Sue Henderson, president of New Jersey City University, it is a perfect marriage of public and private interests.

“This is bringing together a real live, work and play space with a higher education and an arts component,” she told ROI-NJ. “That’s why we are calling it University Place. It is going to be a place to be — a place where the city can grow.

“As an anchor institution, you are supposed to be reaching out to your community and being part of the city. You want to be in and of your city.”

Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop is certainly grateful for her exuberance.

“When you think about the transformation that’s taking place on the West Side, we’re lucky to have NJCU as an anchor,” he said. “They are very proactive, thinking about development, and we want to be partners with them.”

Many others do, as well.

The development partners were led by Hampshire Cos. (Jon and Jimmy Hanson), Claremont Cos. (Richard Sciaretta) and Circle Squared Alternative Investments (Jeffrey Sica).

They see the potential, too.

“The successful leasing of Rivet 1’s retail and residential components is a strong indicator that our vision for Jersey City’s west end is shared by residents and businesses alike,” Sciaretta said.

Rafael Perez, chair of the NJCU board of trustees, thanked them, and all of the other contributors, including Freeholder Bill O’Dea and Strategic Development Group CEO Tony Bastardi.

“The university is not equipped to do this (by ourselves),” he said. “This is a partnership.

File photo
The Rivet 1 building at Jersey City’s University Place development.

“It’s gratifying being here today — after many years — knowing what it takes to make these projects come to fruition.”

Fulop, who thanked Ward A Councilperson Denise Ridley and Ward B Councilperson Mira Prinz-Arey, along with Council President Rolando Lavarro, said the day’s event marked another day forward in the town.

Fulop, in fact, already was looking forward to future groundbreakings, including ones for Bayfront, the transformative 100-acre project one block over that is gearing up to start.

“If you think about what this place is going to look like five years from now, it’s going to be entirely different,” he said. “The RFP for the first four buildings of Bayfront should go out later this month.”

Together, he said, they will have great impact — and symbolism.

“I think the two will really complement each other,” he said. “The fact that the first Rivet is ahead of schedule is only going to serve us on Bayfront. For the people who are skeptical about whether the market can support it, or people want to be here, Rivet is a testament to a fact that it’s ‘Yes.’

“This is becoming just another Jersey City community that is changing.”

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