For Bayonne, 2006 promises to fulfill many of the hopes and dreams for redevelopment that have been on the horizon for years.
This includes the groundbreaking in the spring of the first residential district in the former Military Ocean Terminal, redevelopment steps for the Texaco property, plans for various other parcels, the completion of two additions to schools, the groundbreaking on a brand new P.S. No. 14, and the official opening of the Bayonne Golf Club on the site of the former city dump.
Council President Vincent Lo Re sees 2006 as a watershed year for Bayonne because many of the things that have long been in the planning stages will materialize.
One of the key signs of change will be the groundbreaking of the residential development at the former Military Ocean Terminal, Lo Re said.
Renamed the Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor, the site has served as the city’s great hope for the future, but for several years, nothing seemed to happen.
“The public didn’t see anything,” Lo Re said. “It is nice to knock down old buildings, put in bulk heads, and clean up contamination. But until you start building there, people don’t think anything is going on.”
This will change in the spring when the first development area, called “Harbor Station,” will break ground for construction.
Roseland Properties, a partner involved in the project, expects to begin seeking approval from the Planning Board this month, then will start constructing 400 units slated for Harbor Station North in the spring. This section is the closest of the six development zones to Route 440 and residential Bayonne. The southern portion of Harbor Station will be developed afterward.
This is expected to roughly coincide with the Bayonne Local Redevelopment Authority’s awarding the second section – Bayonne Bay – to one of 10 groups who filed conceptual plans in 2005 for age restricted housing there.
“We have done all the preliminary investigation and we have asked several developers for additional information,” said Lo Re, who is also a commissioner on the BLRA. “We are reviewing and discussing the information now and expect to name someone in the near future.”
Attractions on the base
In the meantime, other work on the base has already begun, including preparations for the development of a park at the northeast tip of the Peninsula, where the 9/11 monument will be constructed. The gift from the Russian Republic is expected to be unveiled in time for the Sept. 11 commemoration ceremonies.
Port Liberty – the cruise ship port that has been in operation since 2004 – is expected to expand its operations in the spring with the arrival of a new ship that will be among the largest currently sailing the world seas.
Lo Re said the former base also will continue to see bulk heads being constructed along the north and south sides of the Peninsula to prevent erosion. Unused military buildings will continue to be demolished in the new year, with the materials used on the base to provide fill for future construction.
“We’re also going to continue roadway improvements and other projects in the upcoming year,” he said, noting that Rep. Bob Menendez – who will become a U.S. Senator in January – has always been a strong advocate for the base’s redevelopment and someone who has managed to get federal funds for a variety of the base’s needs.
“I expect that will continue when he is Senator,” Lo Re said.
In conjunction with development at the base, city officials are currently studying the prospect of a new link to the New Jersey Turnpike at Route 440 that would help accommodate the increased traffic the development is expected to generate.
Other development on the rise
Also on tap for 2006 is a 145-unit six-story structure called “The Waterford at Bayonne” to be constructed on Second Street. It received approval from the Planning Board in 2005. This high-end condominium complex with one- and two-bedroom units is seen as one more feather in the upscale housing market.
The project is being built by Kaplan Companies, which may become the designated developer for a much larger parcel – the Texaco property – at the foot of the Bayonne bridge.
Kaplan Companies is currently reconstructing a pier on the Texaco property that will offer the public spectacular views of Newark Bay and the Bayonne Bridge.
Although not yet approved by the Planning Board, Marl Associates of Connecticut has proposed to build a 74-unit condo development for a site occupied by an abandoned supermarket on North Street and Avenue C.
Councilman Ted Connolly, who also sits on the Planning Board, said parking and access to the property are issues that still need to be resolved.
“If traffic will use the nearby A&P to get to the property then I have no problem with it,” he said. “But I don’t want to add any more traffic North Street.”
Lo Re, however, believes these issues will be resolved, and said the proposed project was one reason why that site was excluded from a recently proposed scattered-site redevelopment plan.
“We knew the property already had a developer interested,” he said.
The “scattered site redevelopment” was a plan brought out in late 2005 with the hopes of providing incentives to potential developers to fill in vacant or underused properties throughout the city.
Development of new townhouses at 30th Street by Baker Industries will continue into the new year, and Lo Re said the city has high hopes for the development of a site on First Street on the east side that was turned down as a site for self storage.
Stores, hotel, schools
The withdrawal of a lawsuit against the city’s Route 440 redevelopment plan clears the way for the development of big box retail stores there.
As the new year begins, construction has started of a new Houlihan’s Restaurant and Staples office supply store at South Cove Commons.
Bayonne may also break ground on a hotel at 45th Street and Route 440 in the northeast section of the city in 2006 if all goes well, Lo Re said.
School upgrades are also in the works, with two additions being completed at Walter F. Robinson School and Woodrow Wilson School. The new year will see the beginning of construction of a new P.S. No. 14 on Avenue E.
Parks are being expanded
Going hand in hand with development will be the new open space venues such as the memorial park on the Peninsula.
One long-anticipated park will likely open in the spring, a 40-acre park on a formerly contaminated site just north of Stephen Gregg County Park on the northwestern corner of Bayonne.
This will be what is called a “passive park” and will be constructed to attract wildlife. There will be an outdoor classroom for students seeking to study nature, as well as a place for people to stroll and observe migrating birds. The park will have a boardwalk through natural wetlands that will give people a close-up view of nature without interfering with the creatures settling there.
Improvements at Mayor Dennis P. Collins Park on First Street that started in 2005 will continue providing the park with new playground equipment, benches, shrubbery, and other items.
The development of water parks in the city began in 2005 and will continue. Each of these parks will provide a variety of sprinkler-like sprays for children to use during the warm summer months.
In anticipation of eventually continuing the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail to Eighth Street, the city is undergoing an engineering study that will continue into the new year.
Repaving city streets is also on the slate for the new year.
“I see 2006 as being a very positive one for the city of Bayonne,” Lo Re said.
Contact Al Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org