New effort to redevelop Porete Ave.

 

NORTH ARLINGTON –

More than a decade after several south Bergen communities were battered by aborted meadows development plans advanced by EnCap and Cherokee, North Arlington is taking another crack at prospective gold in them thar marshes.

Last Thursday night, its governing body authorized its redevelopment consultant, RCM Ceberio LLC, and its redevelopment committee “to negotiate an agreement with HC Development LLC (an affiliate of The Hampshire Companies) for the development/redevelopment of properties within the Porete Ave. Redevelopment Area.”

The redevelopment area, a narrow strip of land located in the borough’s industrial southeast corner, is bounded by the rail line to the east, the Bayonne/Jersey City water supply easement to the south, the ridge line and Schuyler Ave. to the west and Disposal Road to the north.

RCM principal Robert Ceberio said the redevelopment plan is focused on some 24 privately-owned parcels, including some vacant and some “abandoned, with tax liens on them,” spread over some 24 acres.

Not included in the mix, he said, is longtime occupant Clayton Block, a masonry manufacturer, which, because of the nature of their operation, would be “hard to relocate,” Ceberio said, so “we left them alone.”

As defined by the borough’s redevelopment plan for the area, principal permitted uses include: “flex space, warehouse, self-storage facility, modular housing manufacturing, studio, indoor and/or outdoor commercial recreation and public uses.

Maximum lot size is defined as three acres, maximum lot coverage as 60%, maximum building height as 60 feet, minimum floor area as 40,000 square feet in the principal structure and minimum building setbacks as 30 feet.

Ceberio said that The Hampshire Companies was the only company that responded to the borough’s RFQ (Request for Qualifications) for prospective redevelopers.

He said other firms “passed because no land condemnation is allowed in the borough’s redevelopment proposal” and those companies felt they could be handicapped if they felt they needed that tool in assembling development tracts.

But Hampshire, according to Ceberio, “was not deterred” by that restriction. “It didn’t scare them away,” probably because of their long history of accessing top-notch real estate investors and property managers.

They have access to “a huge pot of money” and they are “well-known nationally” for achieving their objectives, he said.

In its RFQ submitted to the borough last month, Hampshire describes itself as a “vertically integrated real estate company that owns and operates a diverse portfolio of over 25 million square feet.

“Hampshire believes that it is extremely well-positioned to participate with the borough in redeveloping the Porte Ave. area. Hampshire has both the experience and means to ensure the efficient and timely completion of initiatives so that the borough will meet its goals and share in the borough’s visions for the future.”

Founded more than 80 years ago by James E. Hanson, the company is led today by the founding family’s third generation, James E. Hanson II, as president/CEO.

Over the decades, it says, it has widened its focus from developer and real estate operator to investment manager and fund manager for institutional and high net worth investors and currently has about $1 billion under management.

“Hampshire has 102 real estate professionals dedicated to creating value on behalf of its investors, and currently owns and operates a diversified portfolio of 295 properties across the country totaling over 18 million square feet,” it says.

As such, it says, “Hampshire has ample access to the capital required to complete large-scale redevelopment projects,” adding that its current portfolio “consists of over 250 investments comprising approximately $2.3 billion in value ….”

Among some of the “major” achievements it lists for New Jersey are: two redevelopment projects in Carteret, one being a 232,000 square foot warehouse facility on Milk Road and the other, a 459,500 square foot warehouse on Bryla St.; a new 156,000 square foot warehouse on Blair Road in Carteret; a redevelopment project for the 110,000 square foot “Class A” Centra office building on Wood Ave. in Iselin; and another redevelopment project generating the 456,920 square foot Lackawanna Plaza mixed-use/grocery-anchored retail, office, multi-family building in Montclair.

Hampshire also notes that it “has undertaken a number of projects on environmentally contamined land, working with a broad variety of municipalities” and has been named as a “designated redeveloper” for additional projects in Harrison, Garfield, Woodbridge and Perth Amboy.

Now it will be up to the members of the borough’s negotiating team – Borough Council members Richard Hughes, the council president; Daniel Pronti and Mario Karcic – to come to terms with HC Development on a redeveloper agreement which will then be submitted to the mayor and full council for their review and, ultimately, approval, modification or rejection.

That process, said Borough Administrator Stephen LoIacono, could take several weeks.

Meanwhile, on other borough development fronts, Ceberio noted that a groundbreaking for the new 140,000 square foot FedEx Freight distribution center on the old Bethlehem Steel site in the Porete Ave. area was held Sept. 23. The property owner, Meadowlands Ventures LLC, has leased the site to Porette (cq spelling) Development LLC which is building the facility. Opening is expected by late next year, Ceberio said.

Also, the old Ridge Lumber facility on Ridge Road has been torn down and the foundation is going in in preparation for a new 30-unit residential structure.

And, Ceberio said, discussions are continuing with the Bergen County Improvement Authority toward an agreement that could result in the BCIA doing a feasibility study for construction of a parking garage for buses and residents at the NJ Transit bus loop on Ridge Road for which the borough would look to nail down “air rights” over the garage to allow for deck parking by commuters and shoppers. Also being considered, he said, is having Meadows Link using the site as a pickup point as part of a shuttle service for commuters and for residents of the nearby garden apartments.

 

Ron Leir | Observer Correspondent

Ron Leir has been a newspaperman since the late ’60s, starting his career with The Jersey Journal, having served as a summer reporter during college. He became a full-time scribe in February 1972, working mostly as a general assignment reporter in all areas except sports, including a 3-year stint as an assistant editor for entertainment, features, religion, etc. He retired from the JJ in May 2009 and came to The Observer shortly thereafter. He is also a part-time actor, mostly on stage, having worked most recently with the Kearny-based W.H.A.T. Co. and plays Sunday softball in Central Park, N.Y.