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Community Near New York City Left to Crumble



By: Brayden Yin


Union City, New Jersey, in the vicinity of New York City, has always been a hotspot for immigrants and artists alike. The views of the city skyline atop the cliffs have remained off the radar of the luxury real estate industry, with only two roads through the community, Mountain Road and Manhattan Avenue. But in the last twenty years, after an investment speculation bubble that fizzled out, the city has been left to crumble as the rotting buildings are neither developed nor demolished.


Artists such as the Beaux-Arts sculptor Raffaele Menconi, designer of the flagpole bases at the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue; Charles X. Harris, an Americana painter; and Olive Kooken, a sculptor known for her lamps and toy soldiers, all lived in Union City or owned properties there. Raffaele Menconi even owned a 13-room mansion on Mountain Road.


Jennie Berger grew up in Union City, and in 2005 she got an offer from investors that she couldn’t refuse. A group of investors paid $1.7 million for her property, which had originally sold for $130,000. Three years after that, another group of investors bought the same property for $2.8 million. Soon, investors took over Mountain Road and Manhattan Avenue. They bought 12 contiguous properties on the cliff for between $360,000 and $6.5 million.


There were plans to build an apartment complex from the developer Sky Pointe LLC in which 450 to 500 units would be built in five towers.


But after that, the area was never built up further. Neither development nor demolition has happened on the properties since they were bought. David Spatz, the city planner of Union City, said that he had not heard from Sky Pointe in “probably six to seven years”.


For the residents of Union City, the condition of the community is becoming unbearable. This once-promising chunk of land is quickly turning stagnant as it is ignored by the developers.

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