Hudson News will soon be Hudson Mews. Clearing of the land is nearly complete at the sprawling 11+ acre site at the intersection of Paterson Plank Road and Grand Avenue in North Bergen. Construction should begin imminently on a new 7-building gated community consisting of 288 studio, one-, and two-bedroom rental units.
“Named Hudson Mews after the mews style townhouse communities, the complex will have the same unique character and desirability of a residential neighborhood,” states a project overview.
Frank Huttle III is one of the principals of Hudson Mews Urban Renewal, LLC, the developers of the property. Originally from South Jersey, he previously built the Avalon in North Bergen.
“The mews is bringing the whole concept of an enclave, a community within a community, to North Bergen,” he said. “It’s a stunning property overlooking the Meadowlands, a gated property five football fields long, landscaped with trees. Residents will have a clubhouse, pool, a gym, and a large deck for barbecues and gatherings overlooking the back.”
The six residential buildings (the seventh is the clubhouse) will be four stories tall and set at different levels along the sloping property. Earlier proposals included more than 300 units but were scaled back. Hudson Mews will sit on the west side of Paterson Plank Road, along the cliff face paralleling Tonnelle Avenue and facing Secaucus.
First tenants expected in 15 months
Demolition, scheduled to last about three months, should wrap up by about year-end. “In short order we’ll have the official groundbreaking to start going up,” said Huttle. The development will be built and rented in phases, with the first phase to consist of three large buildings, taking about 15 months to complete. Full completion of the project is expected to take 18 to 24 months. Each unit will have at least one parking space.
“I envision a complete overhaul of the entire Paterson Plank corridor. I think this is the beginning of a rebirth of that area.” –Township Administrator Chris Pianese
The clubhouse building will be 8,650 square feet across two floors, containing a fitness center, sauna and steam rooms, a lounge, game room, café, men’s and ladies’ locker rooms, an exterior pool, outdoor grill and fire pits, and other miscellaneous amenities.
The construction will feature wood frame with an exterior combination of siding, insulation, brick, and glass. “The cosmetics all have stone and different materials to give it a really nice touch,” said Huttle.
Hudson Mews Urban Renewal, LLC and its principals Huttle, James Demetrakis, and James Cohen are also the developers of the projected rental complex to be built on the site of the former trailer park at 48th Street and Tonnelle Avenue.
“We’re designing a similar product that fits perfectly into North Bergen and also allows us a significant amount of efficiency to be able to have our staging at two sites, effectively building 500+ units” more or less simultaneously, said Huttle. The Tonnelle development, tentatively called Manhattan Trailer Village, will consists of 214 units, utilizing the same firms of Virgona and Virgona Architects and Neglia Engineering Associates.
New 1.5-acre public park coming
As part of the redevelopment agreement for Hudson Mews, the developer agreed to complete all the preliminary work on a new 1.5-acre public park to be located adjacent to the community on property formerly occupied by a car wash.
“The park will have a tremendous, unobstructed view of the Meadowlands,” said North Bergen Township Administrator Chris Pianese. “As part of the deal, they not only demolish the car wash, they grade the property and they bring all the infrastructure to the site, including utilities, with access for water and electric. So the township’s responsibility will be the park equipment and features.”
In addition to community block grants, the town submitted an application for a $700,000 grant through Hudson County Open Space to pay for the project, possibly at no additional cost to township taxpayers. Architects are currently designing the park with the goal of beginning work in 2016 and completing it in 2017.
“I envision a complete overhaul of the entire Paterson Plank corridor,” said Pianese. “I think this is the beginning of a rebirth of that area. It could lead to a small downtown shopping district opposite this development. That’s the ultimate goal: to have a unique area to itself that services downtown, mixing retail, residential, and the new park.”
“This is going to be a tremendous addition to downtown North Bergen,” said Township Spokesperson Phil Swibinski, “which is something the mayor is very passionate about, bringing more services and amenities downtown.”
Discussions have also taken place regarding the vacant property on the other side of Hudson Mews, away from the park, with suggestions for everything from residential construction to a hotel.
“There’s a major capital investment in transforming from industrial to residential,” said Huttle. “We need to work collaboratively together to make something better for the residents of North Bergen.”
In negotiating with the developers, the township put in place a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement that lays out a tiered tax payment plan for the property. During the construction phase, the taxes owed by the owners began this year at $250,000 annually and will climb to $400,000. Upon first occupancy the 30-year PILOT kicks in at $640,000 per year for 15 years, gradually increasing to $1 million in the last stage.
In addition, the township settled a tax appeal previously brought by the owners. “They were looking for a settlement in court upward of $2 million in refund,” said Pianese. “They felt they were overtaxed.” The two parties agreed to a $1.025 refund by the township, payable over three years.
The developers are currently in discussion with NJ Transit about possibilities for additional transportation options. They are also looking at a triangle of land across the street that is part of the property and currently being used as parking for Kennedy School.
“What we are going to be doing is clean up and landscape that space, from an industrial feel to a warm, community feel,” said Huttle. “And that land is going to be donated to North Bergen to continue to use it for their needs and the school system. We’re not simply focused on building units on the property. We deeply and strongly feel that for the success of this project it has to benefit the entire community.”
Art Schwartz may be reached at email@example.com.