Jersey City Heights, New Jersey

The success of a neighborhood depends on location and entrepreneurship. One is controllable, the other is not. The entrepreneurial spirit of those who live and work in Jersey City Heights has resulted in new businesses moving to the area, real estate prices soaring and overall activity increasing.

Finding the next affordable neighborhood with enough personality to put down roots is a constant quest for people in the NY/NJ area. Proximity to public transportation generally dictates where to seek long-term lodging, but for those willing to venture off the beaten path, there are still treasures just off New Jersey’s Gold Coast.

New Jersey’s Gold Coast has always been attractive to Manhattan residents who value real estate and proximity to New York City. Top areas like Hoboken have long been a magnet. Meanwhile, a relatively unknown Jersey City enclave called Jersey City Heights charms newcomers with its charm, strong community spirit and thriving local business scene.

Over the years, Jersey City Heights has morphed into a quaint enclave and remains relatively under the radar for not being in close proximity to the Port of New York and New Jersey. The Heights overlooks Hoboken from the Palisades, and since Hoboken is a historic neighborhood with height restrictions, there are no high-rise buildings that offer the Heights-protected view of New York City. Central Avenue and Palisade Avenue offer an impeccable Manhattan skyline and views of the Hudson River.

Businesses thrive here. Case in point is the meteoric rise of Modcup Coffee with a punk/rave DIY spirit. Founded a decade ago by Travas Clifton, Modcop first illegally roasted its beans in a garage before selling them from a cart at a weekly Riverview farmer’s market. Then it started. Property owners embraced the concept, embracing a permanent location rather than a perpetually vacant real estate office.

Then the artists came, Broadway actors came, the area thrived and liked more businesses bread and salt, a Roman-style pizza and bakery shop. Although housing options in the metro area have become more luxurious, real estate prices in The Heights are still affordable, with an average selling price of $710,000. The area offers a mix of townhouses, condominiums and old industrial conversions. There is no dominant style of architecture that people like Clifton would find inspirational.

Several business people talked about the appeal of the Heights.

Diana Sutherlinlicensed real estate agent at Compass.

Demand in Jersey City Heights remains strong despite higher interest rates because you get more bang for your buck compared to more established areas along New Jersey’s Gold Coast. Particularly large apartments with an outdoor area are in demand. A lot of the people who come to the Heights don’t come from Hoboken and Jersey City anymore. The area has always been a draw for creatives and Brooklynites, but lately there has been a new influx of ex-Brooklyn residents who have come to appreciate the charm, views and quality of life of Jersey City Heights, as well as the breathtaking views due to its location above Hoboken on the discover cliff.

Rising interest rates and lack of inventory are actually contributing to strong demand in Jersey City Heights. With continued demand, developers continue to look for projects and properties to raise the bar. An example of new inventory is 197 New York Avenue, which offers spacious, bright, loft-like apartments with high-quality equipment. Prices for these homes would be significantly higher in downtown Jersey City. The building is just one block from all the hotspots on Palisade Ave and beautiful Riverside Fisk Park, with stunning views of the Manhattan skyline and the weekend farmers market. Many love the appeal of getting early into a market with clear growth potential and we are seeing more and more investors coming to the region despite high interest rates. A super hip, independent artist community flocks here to put down roots.

Travas Clifton, owner of Modcup coffee

Jersey City Heights was a great place to start Modcup Coffee, and it was the right time. Ten years ago there was a young new mayor who wanted to actively promote the opening up and prosperity of local businesses. He launched a press campaign entitled make it yours. After years of struggling with the aftermath of the Great Recession, the area suddenly experienced a new vibe. Before the 2008 crash, many saw the area’s potential, but nothing happened due to the downturn. Eventually, a turnaround led to pent-up demand for new restaurants, shops, and bakeries. People longed for something new. Rent was cheap, inventory was high, and risks were easier to take.

Due to the many cultural changes that have taken place over the past decade, we now have a dedicated, enthusiastic customer base for specialty goods and niche businesses. There is a strong desire to support young and independent companies versus the mainstream.

Jersey City Heights has retained the small town feel and is very walkable. Public transit doesn’t connect parts of Jersey City, so people tend to stay close to home and loyal to local businesses. Any company that builds a following becomes a big fish in a small pond in Jersey City Heights. I would describe the Heights as youthful, energetic and extremely diverse.

Michelle Berckes, owner Busy Bee Organics

Jersey City Heights has been a supportive hub for my business to thrive thanks to its unique “suburban-urban” vibe, strong family presence, bustling farmers markets/events and a close-knit community of like-minded entrepreneurs who love to collaborate and create ideal place to grow together.

Exuding a lively, yet almost homely vibe, Jersey City Heights blends the bustling city energy with a welcoming community spirit. It’s a diverse and inclusive neighborhood where local businesses thrive and is accompanied by green spaces that offer a refreshing retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. Our cityscapes are unrivaled thanks to the unique benefit of elevated heights, providing an unparalleled vantage point to survey and embrace the entire cityscape.

Chris Leo, co-owner, Riverview Wine and Spirits with his wife Laura Marchetti.

If you value loving the place where you work and living alongside the people who support your work, then Jersey City Heights is the place for you. There are so many options here for more of everything. We are far from saturated with anything.

The charm lies in its people. This is where the boldness of Jersey meets the culture of New York City. The people here feel comfortable in their own skin and are completely unpretentious. It feels like we’re miles away from NYC’s Alpha Machiavellian conqueror, and yet there’s still a zest for life. I know all my neighbors and say hello to people on the street.

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