The Real Deal New York

LeFrak, Christie open NJ waterfront park

By Adam Fusfeld | May 03, 2012 06:30PM

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and other state and Jersey City officials this afternoon joined the Lefrak Organization for the opening of Newport Green, a 4.25-acre park at the northeastern end of its massive waterfront mixed-use complex called Newport.

The 600-acre Jersey City neighborhood, which began rising in 1986 atop abandoned piers and rail yards already has eight office buildings, 13 apartment towers, two hotels, two schools and a retail mall. LeFrak has won approval for two more office towers, four more residential buildings and has proposed even more development in the neighborhood, according to the development firm. Since the development began, CEO Richard LeFrak said Newport already has 15,000 residents and 20,000 office workers.

The first of those residents to experience the new playground today were students from Newport’s Stevens Cooperative School and preschoolers from the private River School in Newport, who also got the chance to meet a handful of current and former athletes from the Jets, Giants, Yankees and Mets. Some of the children even implored Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy to join them in the 17,000-square-foot playground.

The park also features an urban beach, a 30,000-square-foot recreational field, landscaped lawns and gardens, ping-pong table, boardwalk and free Wi-Fi.

Before the ribbon cutting ceremony, LeFrak spoke about his family’s long history with the neighborhood and how, through billions of dollars of investment (when pressed, the firm would not give a specific amount, saying only it is “too much to count”), it has transformed before his eyes into a thriving mixed-use community.

The nostalgia prompted Christie — who otherwise parlayed his stage time to boast how the project is an example of government successfully facilitating private development — to quip that it was the first time he’s ever heard LeFrak talk about the past.

“It’s good for him to take a moment and look back at all his achievements,” Christie said. “So we’ll give him a couple of minutes — but that’s it.” Looking to Richard’s sons, Harrison and Jamie, who also serve as executives in the development firm, Christie said: “Then, it’s back to work.”