Start digging those foundations

Development in the city ready to take off, officials say

Development in Bayonne is moving forward full throttle, with some plans being created, others being approved, and possibly shovels in the ground at the Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor this summer after a lull of several years at the former Military Ocean Terminal.
The recession that hurt Bayonne like so much of the state and country has now been shaken off by many companies which are seeking to move forward with projects, city officials say.
Among the new projects being considered around town are a five-and-a-half story residential development with 33 units and one-to-one parking at 636 Ave. C, a multi-story residential building at the former Bayonne Community Bank location at 5th Street and Broadway, and a
condominium project at the former St. Vincent de Paul Grammar School.
“The word in the investment community is that Bayonne is the next place to buy,” said Municipal Services Director Robert Wondolowski, Mayor James Davis’s point man on development in the city. “Everyone is interested.”
Wondolowski said that developers are looking at Bayonne as they were in Montclair and Morristown decades ago; urban areas ripe for development.
“Investors are looking for critical mass, the potential for a city to have a renaissance or a new climate of growth,” Wondolowski said. “This is a place that two years ago, five years ago, people would stay away from.”
City Planner Sue Mack, who shepherds many of the projects through approvals before the city’s Planning Board and City Council, is equally excited about additional development in Bayonne.
One she’s high on involves Clayton Block on Route 440, which sits in the middle of a “scattered site.” Pieces are owned by the city, the Department of Transportation, and private owners. If it moves forward, it would likely house several small stores.
“I think it’s interesting because they’re talking about higher-end convenience stores than ones currently around,” Mack said. “Part of the vision is to get a little bit higher-end stores that are for the young urban professionals.”
Those retail outlets could include such giants as Panera Bread, Wawa, and Starbucks.
The Peninsula could see signs of building soon. Construction may finally get underway for the first 350 rental units in Harbor Station North.
Mack said she had heard from Fidelco Bayonne Realty LLC representative Josh Sternberg, who had sent a new concept plan for the project, and who would like to break ground this summer if it’s feasible to start the building foundations before winter.
“It’s to be determined,” she said. “They’re certainly ready.”
Meanwhile, plans are moving forward for the 47 acres of Harbor Station South which will be developed commercially.
Chinese import/export company Waitex is expected to have its Harbor South plans finalized by June, according to Wondolowski. The first phase should be a Woodbury Commons-like shopping destination, with 50 middle- and high-end shops and restaurants in a complex of two-story brownstone-type buildings.


“The word in the investment community is that Bayonne is the next place to buy.” – Robert Wondolowski


“Waitex is moving forward; after the last meeting they sent over some engineering stuff,” Wondolowski said. “All the underground infrastructure has been done: plumbing, pipes, water, and wiring.”
“They presented us with a plan we can tweak,” he said. “They’re in negotiations with restaurants and clothing companies. They’re getting all their ducks in a row.”

8th St. and Promenade

The 8th Street Revitalization Plan, centering around the Light Rail station there but also including the former A&P property far to the west, is picking up steam, according to Mack.
A technical review committee was scheduled to meet before the Planning Board. A meeting had been requested for late April, where the concept for the property, a residential high-rise rental project, was scheduled to be presented.
The 8th Street Plan also includes single or dual residential towers for 26 North Street as well as plans for Broadway from 5th to 17th streets.
Meanwhile the Kaplan Companies project, The Promenade, at the Kill Van Kull waterfront and Newark Bay, will likely progress, as the application for its first phase “has been deemed complete,” according to Mack.
“Developers are doing stuff on both sides of the city, as well as Broadway, in the 20th to 24th streets corridor,” Mack said. “Then up town. They’re really targeting things.”

Engendering interest

Wondolowski said developers are interested in Bayonne because the city has been proactive. He cited more than 80 ordinance and resolution changes made since last year to promote development.
“We’re incentivizing the purchases here,” Wondolowski said. “We’re trying to make it more efficient, less complex, and easier for the people to facilitate and promote growth.”

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