The Perth Amboy Redevelopment Agency (PARA) has signed an agreement with Viridian Partners of Denver to remediate and redevelop a 44-acre blighted assemblage of properties known as “Gateway.”
Under the deal, Viridian will invest more than $110 million to clean contaminated parcels of land between the Route 35 Victory Bridge, Smith Street and Riverside Drive. The project, once completed, is expected to generate more than 400 long-term jobs and $1 million in local tax revenue.
As part of the plan, more than nine acres of land abutting the Smith Street business corridor will be remediated and “pad ready” for the city at no cost. Perth Amboy officials will decide how best to redevelop the land.
In addition, the developer will remediate and improve an additional nine acres of land for Perth Amboy residents’ passive recreation, including natural areas surrounding Sonnaman’s Creek, with trails leading to a gazebo on a hill to be constructed overlooking the Raritan River.
About 25 acres will be used to construct a one-story, 471,000-square-foot, Class A, state-of-the-art warehouse. Trucks accessing the warehouse must use Riverview Drive via its intersection at Smith Street to minimize traffic in business and residential areas. In addition, berms, buffer landscaping, and other natural screens will be used to minimize the impacts of the warehouse development.
“We’re eager to take advantage of the commercial possibilities of this large swath of developable property and maximize its ideal proximity to Route 440 and other major highways,” said Perth Amboy Mayor Helmin J. Caba. “Working closely with PARA and the developer, we are moving forward with a three-pronged strategy. The developer is paying to remediate the land, create a public park, and turn nine acres of valuable land into buildable property as part of our overall downtown redevelopment initiatives.”
PARA selected Viridian Partners because of the firm’s experience in remediating contaminated complex properties in Middlesex County and converting large industrial sites into clean, tax-generating uses.
As part of its portfolio, the company launched the ePort 1 warehouse project along 102 acres of the Arthur Kill in Perth Amboy and redeveloped a 400-acre former munitions plant in Cranbury. The site now includes warehouses for Amazon and Wayfair; 150 of the 400 acres are maintained as clean conservation areas.
Michael Cahn, a principal with Viridian Partners, said about 75% of the company’s developments are concentrated from Burlington County to Union County, as the 20-year-old firm seeks environmentally distressed properties near the New Jersey Turnpike and other major highways. Its other large developments are based in Florida, California, and Pennsylvania.
“What excites us about the Gateway project is its phenomenal proximity to highways; it is a perfect fit for our model of remediating complex properties,” said Cahn, noting there is also a landfill on the site the firm will address. “We are eager to move forward with Mayor Caba and PARA, breathing new life into the entire neighborhood and directly addressing a blighted eyesore awaiting redevelopment for decades.”
The site formerly housed a roofing company that manufactured asbestos shingles, closing an estimated 23 years ago, Cahn said. Viridian Partners has been working with the city since 2014 to create the overall plan for the vast site; it requires the developer to assemble 28 parcels to comply with the redeveloper’s agreement.
PARA Executive Director Tashi Vazquez said the next step is for Viridian Partners to submit a site plan to the city’s Planning Board for review and secure approvals from Middlesex County and the state Department of Environmental Protection.
The redeveloper’s agreement calls for the developer to break ground no later than spring 2025. Cahn anticipates it will take one year to remediate the property, addressing all geotechnical issues, and a second year for vertical construction of the Class A warehouse and nine-acre open space area.
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