2nd hotel signals growth

By Ron Leir
Observer Correspondent 


The town of Harrison, with a current population of about 14,000 but growing thanks to several new residential projects rising in its waterfront redevelopment area, now has a second hotel.

It is the Element Harrison, the brand’s second hotel in New Jersey, along with the Element in Ewing Township, just outside Princeton.

The 138-room facility off Frank E. Rodgers Blvd. S. is just steps away from the Harrison PATH station and across the street from the Red Bull Arena.

Its construction – developed at a cost pegged at $43 million – comes a decade after the development of the 165-room Hampton Inn & Suites on the Harrison Riverwalk, close to the border of downtown Newark.

Element Harrison is expected to generate an annual PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) for the town of $189,000, according to Harrison CFO Gabriela Simoes Dos Santos. From the Hampton, the town receives a $170,000-a-year PILOT fee, she said.

Additionally, Simoes said, “A 3% hotel tax is remitted by the hotels directly to the state, which in turn sends monthly remittances to the town.” In its financial agreement with the town, the Element has agreed to pay “a $100,000 minimum guarantee for the first three years,” she said, while the Hampton Inn “has generated approximately $119,000 from January to August of 2014.”

The seven-story hotel had a “soft opening” during Labor Day weekend and has experienced about a 70% occupancy rate, according to Jim Shanahan, director of operations. “We actually sold out on Saturday (Sept. 6),” he noted.

A formal ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for Thursday, Oct. 9, at 4 p.m., said Harrison Mayor James Fife.

The hotel is owned and was built by a joint venture of Ironstate Holdings LLC and The Pegasus Group, and is managed by Crescent Hotels & Resorts. Element is affiliated with Starwood Hotels & Resorts.

Assembled as a series of modular units, the hotel, designed by the New York architectural firm HWKN offers various room categories: five 2-bedroom suites, each with two bathrooms; 23 1-bedroom suites, a dozen with two queen beds in each room and 11 with one king in each; five disabled-accessible units; 45 studios with kings; and 48 studios, each with two queens; and 12 “standard” rooms, each with one king. All are equipped with kitchen setups, and all but the standards allow for cooking.

Nightly room rates range from $129 to $299, according to Shanahan.

Guests are afforded use of a 24-hour fitness center, indoor pool and a 1,500 square foot meeting room with flexible layout and state-of-the-art technology designed to meet business and/or social needs.

Guests also have access to complimentary bicycles, complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the hotel, breakfast and an evening reception with salon bar carts stocked with premium wines and beers, soft drinks and snacks, available from 5:30 to 7 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

Parking is provided in the adjacent Harrison Parking Center.


Photos by Ron Leir Views of some of the furnishings at the new Element Harrison hotel.
Photos by Ron Leir
Views of some of the furnishings at the new Element Harrison hotel.


Shanahan said Element Harrison has 36 employees spread among front desk and housekeeping, including six rotating on-site managers. About 70% of the workers were hired from the Newark/West Hudson region, he said.

Element Harrison is part of the Ironstate/Pegasus partnership’s mixed-use development of 2,600 luxury apartments and 80,000 square feet of street-level retail space, the first phase of which has already been completed. The hotel was the second phase and Phase 3 – 329 apartments and 8,700 square feet of retail – is targeted for completion by October 2015.

“The opening of Element Harrison is a landmark moment as it helps advance Harrison’s growth as a standalone, well-balanced urban destination that’s also a great launching point for excursions to Manhattan and other New Jersey Gold Coast locations,” said Michael Barry president of Ironstate. “Starwood’s forwardthinking Element concept is a great complement to our broader vision for Harrison and reflects the national interest and significant financial investment the area continues to garner.”

“We are delighted to partner with Starwood Hotels to introduce its popular Element brand to this new entertainment destination in the area,” said Michael George, CEO of Crescent Hotels & Resorts.

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