In fulfilling a promise by Council President Vincent Lo Re to name two new deals for development of portions of the former Military Ocean Terminal, the Bayonne Local Redevelopment Authority is apparently posed to name Alliance Associates Group as the developer of the remaining section of Bayonne Bay and Boraie Development for a portion of The Landing.
“We were told that decision was made in closed session in September,” said Gerald McCann, who represented Boraie.
Lo Re said the BLRA would be naming the developers shortly, helping to bolster the city budget.
While Nancy Kist, executive director of the BLRA, said tentative developers will likely be named at the Oct. 5 meeting, she would not confirm if both Boraie and Alliance would be those developers.
She declined to be more specific partly because of problems the BLRA encountered in May when a deal fell through for the Bayonne Bay section.
Earlier this year, the city – believing the BLRA had struck at deal with H.R. Horton/Trammel Crow for the Bayonne Bay section, had to scramble to make a separate deal for with Trammel Crow for a portion, leaving the city budget $12 million short and taxpayers at risk of a huge tax hike this year if the revenue cannot be replaced.
When taking over the former Military Ocean Terminal in 2001, the city was told that it must reinvest back into the property revenues gained from the sale or development of the base for the first seven years.
Money not used to help reconstruct the base for civilian use during this period would have to be paid to the federal government since the city received ownership free.
To get around this, the city developed a plan that would have the BLRA pay the city the money, and the city would bond for a like amount to cover the costs of infrastructure improvements.
This, according to Lo Re, allowed taxpayers to benefit from the property prior to its being development. In a five-year plan, the BLRA would transfer large portions of money placed as deposit on the purchase of the land to the city allowing the city to use this as revenue to balance the budget.
Unfortunately, H.R. Horton withdrew from the development leaving the city short in the 2005-2006 budget – money that must be raised by taxes in the 2006-2007 budget if it cannot be found any other way.
“My fear is that we were put in a bad bargaining position by not having the deal locked up before we figured to use the money in our budget,” said Councilman Anthony Chiappone. “Now I believe we need to make deals that are not to our advantage because developers know we need the money.”
Lo Re, Mayor Joseph Doria and others in the administration said the city is not selling the land wholesale, despite the budget situation.
Moving ahead with development
These two deals would be the third and fourth development agreements the BLRA has signed in what early estimates claim is a $32 billion redevelopment potential for the former Military Ocean Terminal.
The redevelopment plans call for six sections, Harbor Station, Bayonne Village, The Landing, the Loft District, Bayonne Point, and Maritime Industrial District and could see as many as 7,000 residential units and 8.7 million square feet of office space when completed decades from today.
Harbor Station – which was slated to break ground several times over the last year – has been designed to partnership of Fildelco Realty and Roseland Properties, marking the section closest to existing residential Bayonne. Bayonne Bay is the next section east featuring primarily residential designed around a cresant park looking south over the waterfront. The Landing will feature retail, resturants, as well as residential.
“We’re going to be building about 600 units of condominiums of low and high rise,” McCann said. “We will also have a hotel.”
Although Boraie Development has offices in New Brunswick, the group has incorporate a host of local contractors, banks and others in order to generate the most local jobs possible.
“This was our idea all along,” McCann said. “We wanted this to benefit the local area the most.”
McCann said that his group would begin to gear up for construction as soon as they got approval.
The tenative designation expected to be awarded to both companies still requires more specific negociations over price and other aspects, with a final contract not likely until the early next year.
Boraie was among the 10 developers that submitted proposals for the Bayonne Bay section in 2005.
BLRA Executive Director Nancy Kist informed the nine groups that did not get the contract that the groups would be considered for the remaining sections.
Alliance was also one of the partners which submitted a proposal last year, but apparently went on its own when beginning negociating with the BLRA for the remaining section of Bayonne Bay in June.
Although negociations are still underway with several firms, according to BLRA officials, McCann and others said they believe Boraie and Alliance will prevail when the announcement is made shortly.
Meanwhile, the BLRA moved ahead with efforts to open the former Military Ocean Terminal – renamed the Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor – by unveiling a public walkway, allowing people regular public access to the area for the first time since it became a military base prior to World War II
On Sept. 23 officials cut the ribbon on the first mile of The Peninsula’s waterfront greenway at the main entrance to The Peninsula at Port Terminal Boulevard by 34th Street and Route 440.
Participants then walked to the end of the greenway for refreshments and discussions of local wildlife of Hudson County by author Patricia Hilliard.
“We are very pleased to be able to open this part of The Peninsula to the public,” said BLRA Chairman Howard Fitch. “For years residents have been reading about the work being done here and now they will be free to come to The Peninsula at any time to see the progress being made or just to enjoy the wonderful views.”
The greenway will be open daily from dawn until dusk.
“This event is a major step toward realizing the goal of reconnecting Bayonne to its New York Bay waterfront,” said Mayor Doria. “And I want to thank Chairman Fitch, the BLRA commissioners and executive director Nancy Kist and her staff for all their hard work to make this first mile of greenway available to the public.”