Spicing things up in downtown Jersey

Spicing things up in downtown Jersey

Auction route gives Saffron a jump start on condo sales

By John Majeski

Fields Development Group’s Saffron project is aptly named.

Saffron the spice is extracted from the center of the flower while Saffron the development is located in the middle of Jersey City’s vibrant downtown.

“We’re the scent of the flower,” said James Caulfield Jr., a principal at Fields. “We’re in a blossoming area.”

The Saffron is a pair of five-story condominium buildings totaling 76 units. They are primarily one and two-bedrooms, with one-bedrooms averaging 600 s/f and two-bedrooms averaging 950 s/f, Caulfield said. Prices start as low at $299,000.

Located on Newark Avenue in Jersey City, The Saffron is near the Grove Street PATH train station and a host of eating, nightlife and shopping options. Immediate occupancy is available.

The developer began sales late last year, hosting an auction to start the ball rolling. The event was organized by Sheldon Good & Company and one-bedrooms ended up fetching prices in the mid-$300,000s and the mid-$400,000s for two-bedrooms.

“It drove 2,000 people through our Open House,” Caulfield said of the auction’s success.

The company took 15 contracts from the auction, canceling six and keeping nine. Since then, they have sold an additional 10 units through conventional means.

“That’s pretty good given that we had New Year’s and Christmas in there,” Caulfield said. “We’re thinking it’s going to take another 15 months (to sell out). Our biggest struggle now is how do we get buyers into the market and buying today? The answer is to give them a sense of confidence and figure out how to get the financing done.”

The second part of that answer is being handled with
approval from the Federal Housing Administration, making it possible to purchase a unit with 3.5% down. There is also a five-year tax abatement.

Caulfield said The Saffron offers unparalleled value. He said purchase prices are lower than the competition, as are the common charges. Monthly charges start at $150 a month for one-bedrooms and a little more than $200 for two-bedrooms.

Buyers seem to get a lot for their money when it comes to amenities. There is an Internet lounge, a lobby lounge, a fitness center, courtyard, rooftop
deck and rooftop lounge. Parking is available for an additional monthly fee.

Luxury is promised inside the units. In addition to washer and dryer hookups, there is custom cabinetry, bamboo flooring, handcrafted countertops and top-notch appliances and fixtures.

Outside, the building’s aesthetics draw from the neighborhood’s history. “This area had a decent amount of old warehouses. We didn’t want to lose the warehouse feel, but we want to bring it to the modern era,” Caulfield said.

To do so, the Mark Gould Architects-designed structure is composed of brick and corrugated metal. The lobby, which will be used as a gallery for local artists, consists of polished concrete to stay with the industrial feel. There is 3,500 s/f of ground-floor retail.

Marco Tartaglia, Realtor with Boutique Realty, the company handling sales and marketing for the project, said: “The Saffron is an appealing alternative to the high-rise condominium buildings that line the Hudson. The developer has taken elements of the classic exterior architecture and interior designs that define notable neighborhoods, such as Williamsburg and Bedford-Stuyvesant, and incorporated them into these buildings to create a living experience that exudes urban charm.”

The Saffron is geared toward first-time home buyers.

“They’re young urban professionals,” Caulfield said. “We did one-wall kitchens because people don’t need these massive kitchens. They’re eating out, they’re working late.”

Caulfield said one-third of the buyers so far are from New York originally while the remainder is from Jersey City. It wasn’t that hard luring the buyers from across the river.

Caulfield said New Yorkers seeking to escape the expensive downtown living but still remain close to work can look on the Internet and easily learn that Jersey City is a shorter commute than many neighborhoods in the outer boroughs. The PATH train takes residents to Manhattan in fewer than eight minutes, Caulfied said.

Another reason that people are drawn to The Saffron is because of the price point and design aesthetic, he said. The company is clearly proud of its product.

“The Saffron is an exciting new alternative that reflects today’s marketplace,” Caulfield said in a news release. “We’re introducing new-construction, well-conceived floorplans complemented by cutting edge finishes, desirable outdoor space and convenient enclosed parking at a price … that is far below what’s found at new developments in the area.”

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