During World War II, the Curtiss-Wright manufacturing facility comprised over 150 acres, more than 20% of the Borough of Wood-Ridge’s area, and employed more than 27,000 people. The facility closed in the late 1970s. After years of dormancy, it was sold, with Somerset Development spearheading the redevelopment of this expansive site into a viable community asset. To date, construction and completed phases of the visionary project include 406 rental apartments, 104 multi-family affordable housing units, ongoing construction of more than 500 townhouse, condominium and single family dwellings, plus over 35,000 square feet of retail to directly serve the community.
The various projects have been undertaken by distinct developers, but with detailed coordination in order to create a cohesive neighborhood. Pedestrian access throughout the community, with access to the new train station and the retail complex, has been an important component of the community planning. The introduction of a new NJ TRANSIT railroad station allows the site to be a transit-oriented community, thus reducing the reliance on cars.
Challenges to the plan’s execution were numerous – not surprising for a project of this magnitude. As a former industrial site, environmental cleanups were needed, as were rigorous development and regulatory reviews and approvals. Construction of the new train station, plus market cycles, further complicated the process. Importantly, the project’s planning and execution have necessitated tremendous coordination with and among all the stakeholders.
Wesmont Station’s development is ongoing and subsequent planned phases will include more than 600 condominium and townhouse units and another 10,000 square feet of retail space. Recreational ballfields are planned that will be used by both the new community and the borough. Current estimates place the completed Wesmont Station community at some 1,500 residential dwellings with a resident population of 3,665, almost a third of the borough’s total population. The entire project, valued at $5 million to date, has created some 3,000 construction jobs. Some 100 full-time and 200 part-time jobs have been created at this mixed use site.
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