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Jersey City News

Jersey City Heights' star is on the rise

BY Karen Angel, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

The wave of gentrification that leapfrogged the Hudson a few years back has reached new heights - Jersey City Heights, to be exact.

When banker Yvonne Thevenot saw her family's future home in Jersey City Heights five years ago, the house and the friendly neighbors immediately won her over.

"We just saw ourselves there," said Thevenot, 39, who lives in the Ogden Ave. home with her husband and 5-year-old son. "It has a great view of Manhattan, and there's a lot of space for us."

The Thevenots are part of a wave of young urban professionals sweeping into the Heights, a historically working- and middle-class neighborhood perched on the Palisades just west of Hoboken, once the hot across-the-river destination for folks priced out of the West Side and Brownstone Brooklyn.

The Thevenots' four-story, 100-year-old, gingerbread-style Victorian cost $454,000, making the family's monthly mortgage payment $250 less than the $2,100 they had been paying to rent one floor of a Park Slope, Brooklyn, brownstone.

In 2007, graphic designer Lori Kadezabek, 30, moved from her beloved Hoboken, where she paid $850 a month for an apartment shared with two roommates. Now, she pays $1,000 for 800 square feet.

"In the Heights, you get so much more space for your money," Kadezabek said.

The roughly 10-square-mile neighborhood is one of Jersey City's largest. While its basic character hasn't changed much in recent years, there have been improvements - including the revamping of Riverview-Fisk Park.

Once a glass-strewn dump, the park is now a popular playground whose upkeep is a communal affair.

"They tore up the playground and put a newer one, so now everyone respects that," Thevenot said.

Meanwhile, the Heights' 13-acre reservoir - defunct since 1992 - has been designated a nature preserve. Fishing and kayaking events are held there, and there are plans to build a jogging path and fishing pier.

Michael Castro Jr., 25, a bank sales associate who has been living in the 600-square-foot Heights condo he bought for $140,000 a year ago, said his new neighborhood "is like 20 years ago in Brooklyn."

He added, "I have a vision that it's going to get a lot nicer." kangel@nydailynews.com