The city of Bayonne is finally poised to use the riches of the former Military Ocean Terminal to reinvigorate the city.
On Dec. 8, the Bayonne Planning Board approved plans for the development of hundreds of residential units for Harbor Station North by Fidelco Bayonne Realty LLC, as well as initial plans of Kate Howard Ltd. to develop Harbor Station South for a mixed-used project, including a hotel and an upscale retail shopping center.
It’s been a decade-long quest to have the Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor developed and provide numerous ratables.
Plans for the 15-and-a-half-acre Harbor Station North, which call for approximately 625 units in three residential buildings, passed by an 8-0 vote. The first building will probably have about 200 units, according to Planning Board Chairman Ted Garelick.
“It will change a weed-infested lot to a beautiful residential area,” Garelick said.
It’s also expected to lure young, high-earning professionals.
“I think by bringing young professionals into the city of Bayonne, it creates almost a renaissance to the city,” Garelick said. “They’ll support restaurants, stores, and gyms, and I think it’s good for the economy.”
A combination of factors has come together to allow this development and others at the Peninsula: the building of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, the city’s investment in infrastructure there, and the rebound from the recent recession.
“It’s a good project. It was on the drawing board for a decade. Unfortunately 2008 pulled the rug out on a lot of these projects,” Garelick said. “But now there’s a window of opportunity. The funding is here, and it’s conducive to new development.”
A small commercial component to the development will include stores that sell food and over-the-counter drugs.
There will be close to 1,000 parking spaces, and landscape, architecture, and planning options that likely couldn’t be done anywhere in the city proper.
“There, you’re working with existing conditions,” Garelick said. “Here, where you have an open 15 acres, it’s like you’re working on a blank canvas.”
This part of the Peninsula, with sewer, water, and gas lines in place, essentially provides a build-ready site, which expedites construction.
Proximity to the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail 45th Street station will attract young professionals seeking easy access to New York City.
The only other residential complex on the Peninsula is Harbor Pointe, the former Alexan CityView complex, which changed hands earlier this year.
“Now there’s a window of opportunity. The funding is here, and it’s conducive to new development.” – Ted Garelick
North and South come together
Harbor Station South received preliminary approval for retail and hotel development, with a likely smattering of residential.
The 72-acre development will feature Bayonne’s first grand hotel, possibly 25 stories tall, for cruise line guests and other visitors. It will also include a mall to draw shoppers not only from the tri-state area, but from along the eastern seaboard.
Kate Howard Ltd., whose parent company is the Waitex company, has built several of these shopping centers across the world. It will feature dozens of high-end stores and a gathering area similar to a palazzo in Italy.
“It’s an Italian or European high-end mall,” said City Planner Sue Mack. “It’s called a lifestyle center.”
Mack said the shopping facility will be pedestrian friendly, with attractive embellishments and signage.
“There are pieces of this that are kind of interesting,” Mack said, including a stretch of sewer pipe that can’t have anything placed over it. It may wind up being on a greenway, with plants and flowers around it. A model is the High Line in New York City, which was developed into an attractive park.
“You take something like that and you turn it into something very pedestrian oriented and useful,” Mack said.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.