After cementing its presence in Long Island City and Astoria, Modern Spaces is expanding to another up-and-coming area.
The brokerage is entering the Jersey City market, with its first rental project set to launch leasing in June, said CEO Eric Benaim. The co-living project at 87 Newkirk Street is among five buildings Modern Spaces will market for the Namdar Group. Overall, the firm will market roughly 1,500 residential units as well as the commercial space tied to those projects.
The expansion has been a long time in the making: In 2015, Jonathan Kushner’s Kushner Real Estate Group and Ironstate Development jointly acquired a minority equity stake in brokerage Modern Spaces. The amount paid for the stake wasn’t disclosed.
“We’ve had our eye on Jersey City for quite some time now,” Benaim told The Real Deal. “We were looking and exploring areas, and we didn’t just want to go full throttle right after the investment.”
Jersey City has seen a flood of residential development, as its lower costs and proximity to New York City lures both developers and consumers. Over the next three years, 12,058 residential units are scheduled to come online — about 10,000 of them rentals. Much of the new development is clustered in Downtown Jersey City and in the Journal Square area around transit hubs like PATH stations and NJ Transit’s light rail. Ironstate and KRE currently have the most product in the pipeline.
Despite the growth prospects, Modern Spaces — which claims to have closed about $5 billion in transactions over the past 10 years — isn’t opening a new office in the market just yet, and will grow its agent presence as its projects in Jersey City evolve. To start, around four or five agents will work on the 87 Newkirk building, dubbed MRK, which is bringing 132 units to the market.
The other Namdar Group properties include 26 Van Reipen Avenue, 26-28 Cottage Street, 35 Cottage Street and 626 Newark Street. The proposed Cottage Street buildings would create a large new complex in Journal Square with nearly 750 residential units.
The hardest part of a new market is initially breaking into it, he added, noting that the brokerage is now talking to other developers in the neighborhood too.
“We’re looking to chase as much business there as possible,” Benaim said. “We get a lot of Jersey City people in Long Island City so I’m guessing we’ll see Long Island City people there too.”
Modern Spaces and Benaim were in the spotlight overnight after Amazon announced plans for a campus in Long Island City. The brokerage stood the most to gain in the market as buyer interest surged. When reports surfaced that the retail giant was reconsidering, Benaim was a vocal supporter of the deal, helping with local advocacy efforts and gathering signatures for a petition. He characterized the loss as devastating for the city.