Despite an ailing national economy that put one of its potential client’s stores out of business, Bayonne Crossing, a big box store slated for the location along Route 440, received approvals last week from the Bayonne City Council allowing it to expand a portion of its property.
“What I can say is that Bayonne Crossing is still on track.” – Michael O’Connor
“What I can say is that Bayonne Crossing is still on track,” said Michael O’Connor, executive director of the Bayonne Economic Development Corp., a city agency overseeing the project’s development.
Bayonne Crossing is what some officials call a “power center” located on Route 440 between East 22nd Street and New Hook Road.
Cameron, the deverloper for the site, was to subdivide several strips of land that would create a single 29-acre block of land to accommodate a 360,000 square foot shopping mall. The city’s most recent approval brings the total acreage to 30, and, more importantly, allows the project to even the boundary lines along the southeastern corner of the property, O’Connor said.
In 2004, the City of Bayonne declared the section an area in need of redevelopment, which allowed a developer like Cameron to take advantage of various state programs for cleaning up the site.
Cameron, however, had to negotiate with several landowners to put the needed amount of property together in order to accommodate the large retail stores.
The request for a subdivision took over six properties, some which could not be developed as they were currently configured, and divided parts of them into a single piece of property that would be used for the mall.
The 360,000 square foot project was originally scheduled to open for business in the fall of 2007. But with the rise of the development costs and the collapse of Circuit City electronic stores, the project delayed opening, said O’Connor. But, it is still moving toward construction.
The mall, which will include a Lowe’s Home Improvement Center and a New York Sports Club, will be constructed on about 30 acres of land, and the most recent approvals from the city allowed the project to “round off its property” to include about an acre of land formerly owned by a manufacturing facility.
O’Connor said minor changes mark the continued interest by Cameron Group, which is currently seeking another major tenant to replace the loss of Circuit City.
“Once they sign that tenant, they will break ground,” O’Connor said. “While I can’t say when, I can say it will be soon.”
Other tennents include a Chili’s resturant, Lowe’s and will possibly also include a Longhorn Steak House and Starbucks Coffee.
Lowe’s, the prime tenant, will rent about 145,000 square feet of retail space.
Financing has been a nightmare. Because of this, the Bayonne Local Redevelopment Authority last year agreed to issue up to $30 million in bonds to pay for utility infrastructure and some environmental cleanup on a portion of land which ExxonMobil had operated an oil terminal and refinery. The BLRA – which has control over the 30-acre redevelopment site – voted last year to apply to the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust for a loan of more than $19 million for a stormwater management system for the mall.
The project is expected to create about 800 jobs, not including constrruction jobs, and the city is expected to see up to $1.2 million in additional tax revenues and as much as $4 million in revenue to the Urban Enterprise Zone.
O’Connor said a rise in construction costs has helped to delay the project, but did not stop the project.
He said the New Jersey Economic Development Authority will likely approve a $1 million Smart Growth loan that will help cover some of the preconstruction costs, with more state funds likely once construction actually starts.