EVEN in a thoroughly urban setting — maybe especially there — people want a patch of the outdoors to call their own, according to Dean Geibel, a New Jersey developer whose company, Metro Homes, is based in thoroughly urban Hoboken.

“Everybody wants a place to have a cup of coffee in the morning,” he said. “They need a spot where they can see the sky, and breathe the air.

“Or maybe,” he added, with a less embracing fervor, “somebody wants to be able to smoke a cigar from time to time.”

Increasingly, New Jersey developers are going above, if not beyond, to satisfy that buyer demand. They’re looking to rooftops — above a building’s parking garage or its penthouses — to create shared, or even private, garden spots, in locales as diverse as the Hudson riverfront and the East Orange inner city.

A short list of rooftop projects now under construction includes the seventh-floor space with pool and “great lawn” at the 55-story Trump Plaza in Jersey City, a landscaped deck at One Hudson Park in Edgewater (where most units have balconies as well), elevated terraces at two different condo developments on the beach in Asbury Park — one a huge open garden and the other offering individual penthouse rooftop spaces — and five small condo structures in East Orange that will have overhead lawns and patios.

“Rooftops are hot in Jersey,” crowed Tom Bauer, a landscape architect with Melillo & Bauer in Manasquan. “Finally.”

Mr. Bauer was a pioneer in rooftop development in 1979, when he had black pines helicoptered to the top of the Caesars Boardwalk Regency Hotel Casino in Atlantic City to meet a local “green space” requirement.

More than a quarter century after that Atlantic City job — when high winds and inexperience literally blew an electrician off the rooftop and down two floors, resulting in a broken arm and leg — Mr. Bauer says he is constantly busy putting green icing atop the cake, as it were.

“It is the right thing to do, for so many reasons,” he said. He cited “aesthetic improvement,” meaning that people living and working up high get to look down on garden greenery as opposed to black tar and gravel, and “environmental improvement” — the natural cooling effect of “green” roofs and their efficient use of rainwater.

In Asbury Park, where several new beachfront complexes are under construction, Mr. Bauer’s firm recently hoisted loads of soil up to the roof of Paramount North Beach and then planted ornamental grasses and ground cover around the pool deck and private garden patios.

At the other end of the beach, town homes at the Wesley Grove development are being given individual rooftop terraces.

On the central beach, the two-tower Esperanza is rising. The project, being developed by Metro Homes, will have a lavish — and lush — plaza on the roof of the parking garage between its towers, similar to the planned configuration at Trump Plaza, where a second tower is in the works, Mr. Geibel said.

The Esperanza’s fourth-floor plaza will feature a pool, a children’s water park and jungle gym, a lawn large enough for soccer and pet walking, and a “tiki hut” offering food and beverages.

“People love to eat outside,” Mr. Geibel said, “and a lot of them have jobs where they don’t even get outside for lunch. I worked on Wall Street for 16 years and could never leave my desk.

Original article By ANTOINETTE MARTIN July 29, 2007 NY Times

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