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$1.3M buys stunning Gold Coast view

5/11/07 / The Record / Real Estate

$1.3M buys stunning Gold Coast view

By: Mary Amoroso

Record_5_11_07 Nelson Chen doesn’t seem like the type to wait. A self-described “Bergen County baby” who grew up in Englewood Cliffs and attended the Elisabeth Morrow School and The Dwight-Englewood School in Englewood, Chen got his real estate license when he was 18. He used his real estate income to help pay his way through the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. At the age of 30 he was named Realtor of the Year by the Eastern Bergen County Board of Realtors. He’s been president of the New Jersey Multiple Listing Service three times. His career exceeds $250 million. At 38, he is the president and owner of The Chen Agency in Fort Lee. So why has he plunked down a deposit to buy a $1.3 million condo in Cliffside Park that wont be ready for occupancy for two or three years? Construction has not yet begun on Aurora Over the Hudson, two glass-and-steel towers whose interiors and amenities were designed by Philippe Starck, a Frenchman who’s put his brand on both the high-end market and the “cheap chic” of target. “I love the architecture, that whole steel-and-glass New York aesthetic,” Chen said. “I love the location. It’s a perfect mix between the high-rise world up on Palisade Avenue, but all the convenience of waterfront right in your front yard. It’s the most incredible floor plan I’ve ever seen. Sometimes it’s all marketing, but this is real: The kitchen design, the bathroom design, they’re really a look and feel that doesn’t exist up here.” Cliffside Park already has its share of residential high-rises: Winston Tower (built in the 1970s on the site of the old Palisades Amusement Park), the Green House, Carlyle Towers and The Briarcliff. Lori Stein, a real estate agent with Classic Realty Group/Oppler-Ketive-Fort Lee, who is marketing a Carlyle Tower duplex penthouse at $2.123 million, said her phone is ringing. “People are calling about the Aurora,” she said. “It is very expensive.” The homes range in prices from $1 million to $2.5 million. But Chen said that, since the condos are so big (1,800 square feet to 3,300 square feet, with 60 percent of the 131 units over 3,00 square feet), the per-square-foot is not so outrageous. “It’s a reasonable price in comparison to what you would have to pay in New York,” said Mary Boorman, in a refrain echoed by every real estate marketer on the Gold Coast. She’s a senior vice president at the Chatham-based Pinnacle Cos., which is developing the project in conjunction with Kohl Partners and Craftex. Boorman said 12 or 13 units have been sold, although the Aurora sales office doesn’t open until spring. With the towers on t he cliff at the top of Gorge Road, the views are touted as panoramic. “Whereas some of the views of the Gold Coast from the waterfront are in-your-face Manhattan, being up on the cliff with wraparound windows means you can see from the George Washington Bridge to the financial district,” Boorman said. The space between the two towers has been designated for common outdoor living, with a pool, hot tub spa, and dining area. Inside are a “world-class” fitness center and Zen relaxation spa and a dining suite with lounge and catering kitchen so that you can hold parties downstairs rather than in your condo. “This is very much the kind of thing you could see in the capitals of Europe, and in New York City,” Boorman said. “The trend is for people to move to more urban environments, with one-floor living and amenities in the building that make it very self-contained.” Chen said that 20 years ago Fort Lee was the place to be. But today, the boundaries have melted and everything along the Palisade is one big market. And there’s something to be said for moving south, closer to the ferry and the Lincoln Tunnel. Chen also likes the Aurora because it will be smaller than the 17- to 31-story high rises in Cliffside Park. Aurora has 11 floors of condos, with five units to a floor in the north tower and seven to a floor in the south tower. “One hundred thirty-one units is very intimate,” he said. “I like the whole small New York building concept. There’s something to be said for fewer people around. The doorman knows everybody very well.” Chen is resigned to living in his 280 unit high-rise in Fort Lee for a couple more years. “The Aurora is new, beyond new, with high-end design finishes and spectacular views,” he said. “I think the product is special enough that it’s worth the wait.”

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