Big … and boutique: Ironstate feels 69-story Jersey City Urby is best of both worlds (Slideshow)
Barry feels being able to connect residents to local culture and other residents — and do it in a unique way — helps Urby stand out from other mixed-use properties along the Jersey City waterfront.
“When I looked at boutique hotels, what was going on and why people were responding to that, I think that it went beyond the insistency of product, even the design of the product,” Barry said. “It really became the whole experience. Thoughtfulness of details and ultimately getting the residents and the occupants to connect with the property and with each other. That’s what I saw made boutique hotels powerful and why they became a force.”
Barry, who previously was involved with the W Hotel in Hoboken and Chiltern Firehouse in London, said the 69-story, 762-unit Urby is a “combination of those two projects.”
And he feels he’s selling an experience more than a place to live.
Renters seem to feel that way, too. Urby, which has been open for two months, is now 50 percent leased, Barry said.
“When you create experiences that blend with the brand and with each other, and, ultimately, that results in better rents, better retention and happiness,” Barry said. “It’s about building a better type of residential housing.
“In some ways, we’re looking forward, and in other ways, we’re looking back at communities 30, 40, 50, 100 years ago. When you meet someone in a community, there’s something about connecting with other people that leads to happiness.”
But the experience, according to the architectural firm Concrete, begins with the design of the tower’s exterior and the design of the amenity space.
“The buildings around us are pretty generic and we want to raise something more expressive, something more specific that brings something more,” Erikjan Vermulen of Concrete said. “Urby is playful and fresh, the new kid on the block.
“The idea behind it is to be able to express a little bit of playfulness, but also what happens is we created a larger diversity in the unit type. So, every time when the floor cantilevers or projects, a studio can become a one bedroom; a one bedroom, a two bedroom. So, instead of three to four different unit types, we have 12 different unit types from a little bit less than 400 square feet, to almost 1,000, so that everybody who is looking for something, there is something for his or her type in this building.”
Rents range from approximately $2,000 to $5,000, depending on the size.
The design team included 25,000 square feet of amenity space at the ground floor of the property. Here, 9 Bar Café opened its second location. Ample Hills Creamery out of Brooklyn is also set to open a location at Urby in July.
On the ninth floor, Concrete and Ironstate added a full gym, pool and outdoor deck, and a communal kitchen. The amenity space, according to Barry, gives residents the opportunity to connect and to become an extension of the residents’ personal living spaces.
“We have the opportunity to expand to different markets and take people, introduce them to different culture, introduce them to their local community,” Barry said. “The broader trend is that we’re transient, we’re digital, you hear a lot about people meeting people online and there’s not much opportunity to meet people in person anymore.”
Urby also partnered with Liberty Science Center’s Paul Hoffman to host science and technology programs at the property.
And on the 68th floor, the team left two one-bedroom units — one of which is used as a workshop space — and one two-bedroom unit to show Urby and its landscape to potential residents, but to give all residents, from floor 2 on up, the opportunity to experience the waterfront skyline from the tallest building in Jersey City.
“This (workshop space) is a one-bedroom apartment and we use it because we want people that live on the third floor to experience this view at times,” Barry said. “We also use it at times to allow people from other countries and other areas to experience Urby. We have a poet coming in, in a month or two, to do a residence. So, we’ll put that person up there for a month, so he can experience it and maybe write some pieces. If you’re not in market for apartments in Jersey City, it’s hard for you to experience this brand, so we keep it open to allow people to really get to understand this brand and this product.”
Sawyer Smith Residential is the exclusive leasing agent.