FOR DECADES, previous town leaders have been unable in repeated attempts to lure investors to a swath of Main Street in Belleville, leaving a 24-acre lot at 675 Main St. vacant and yielding bare minimum property taxes and an eyesore for decades.

But, finally, the township says it has secured a strong redevelopment partner, announcing late last week that a developer has broken ground on the site for a 359,000-square-foot space.

The facility will feature 40-foot clear ceiling heights, 58 rear-loading docks and parking for up to 160 cars and 94 trucks.

Bridge Development Partners is converting the once-blighted property, with plans to open the new facility sometime next year.

The township’s Development Committee consisting of Mayor Michael Melham, Deputy Mayor Thomas Graziano and Councilman Vincent Cozzarelli, say they are pleased with the many ways the project will benefit the town.

Cozzarelli said the developer will foot the bill to remediate on-site contamination. At full build-out, the hub will be a source of permanent jobs for Belleville residents, while serving as a steady stream of tax revenue to the town and the public schools.

Plus, the developer agreement calls for a $1.5 million community contribution, which officials have committed toward a future indoor turf facility.

“This is a win-win-win situation all the way around,” Cozzarelli said. “This project will have many benefits for Belleville for years to come and the Development Committee is very excited to have helped facilitate this deal.”

“This is the first council in more than 40 years to get a deal done on the site,” Melham said. “This is certainly one of our greatest accomplishments, collectively. It is also proof positive that PILOTs (Payments in Lieu of Taxes) aren’t a bad thing. Because of the PILOT, we have a developer paying to finally remediate contaminated land, rather than cap it, and we received a community contribution to create yet another sports and recreation facility.”

A spokesperson for Bridge Development Partners says the company was eager to lay roots in Belleville because of its geographic proximity to Newark and New York City — and the NJ Turnpike and major arteries to Manhattan.

“We’re excited to transform this once-dilapidated site into a state-of-the-art industrial facility situated strategically to serve millions of residents in both New Jersey and New York,” said Jeff Milanaik, Bridge’s Northeast region partner. “This project would not have been possible without the support of the Township of Belleville, and we’re very thankful for the cooperative and successful relationship we have been able to establish with the many municipal offices involved.

“We look forward to bringing a new, modern Class A facility in this prime infill location to users looking for a place in the thriving Meadowlands market.”

It’s not yet known what tenants will occupy the space. But based on the facility’s close proximity to major highways and thoroughfares, it could position itself as a last-mile warehouse that works to distribute packages from fulfillment centers to front doors, according to Melham.

“We look forward to maximizing all possibilities,” the mayor said.

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.