Slowdown won’t stop development
Bayonne moves ahead even in sluggish economy
by Al Sullivan
Reporter staff writer
Mar 06, 2009 | 7787 views | 0 0 comments | 40 40 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CLOSED FOR RENOVATION ShopRite will close its doors in order to construct a new facility on 26th Street and Avenue C.
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Not even Michael O’Connor, executive director of the Bayonne Economic Development Corporation, will call 2008 going into 2009 a great year for development.

With the downturn in the national economy, many projects waiting to happen have slowed down.

Yet a number of significant projects are still moving ahead, and these, O’Connor believes, will become the driving force behind a strong future recovery in Bayonne.

Several initiatives started over the last few years are about to bear fruit in 2009, promising that while other aspects of the economy may be struggling, business seems to be plugging along.

“The Inserra family is making a significant investment in the community by redeveloping its facility at the same location.” – Michael O’Connor

Perhaps one of the most important projects for the older business sections is the redevelopment of the ShopRite on Avenue C, one of the anchors to the traditional business community. While the ShopRite will temporarily close its doors on March 14, it will expand and modernize its facility, O’Connor said.

“The Inserra family is making a significant investment in the community by redeveloping its facility at the same location,” O’Connor said.

By demolishing its old building and building a larger facility on the same location, the store will close and effectively lose almost nine months of business as it reconstructs. Larry Inserra, the CEO of ShopRite in Bayonne, has apparently told the city he hopes to have the new facility open by the end of the year.

O’Connor said that during construction, ShopRite intends to shuttle customers – at no cost – from its parking lot on W. 25th Street to the ShopRite store on Marin Boulevard in Jersey City. Because the current store operates a pharmacy, a trailer will be set up in the W. 25th Street parking lot to allow people to continue to get their prescriptions.

The project, which is estimated at $15 million, will provide underground parking as well as other additional or expanded services in an up to date 68,000 square-foot building.

“An escalator will take shoppers and their carts down to an underground parking garage,” O’Connor said. “The new building will have wider aisles, a bakery, a liquor store and other new features. The current employees will be relocated to other ShopRite stores during construction.”

O’Connor said the store will close on March 14, and demolition is expected to move ahead quickly.

Also expected to begin construction this year is the new power-generating center slated for a portion of the southeastern waterfront on property that previously held facilities for Hess Oil.

The Hess Corporation, in partnership with an affiliate of ArcLight Capital Partners, LLC, has received approvals to construct an environmentally-advanced 512 megawatt gas fired electric power plant on a seven-acre site that will send electricity via an underwater cable to the Con Edison substation in South Brooklyn – although Bayonne will receive most of the property and sales taxes. The project would take approximately 13 months to build and provide 300 temporary construction jobs and 10 highly skilled permanent jobs.

Nursing home, malls

One of the most highly anticipated projects in 2009 will be the construction of a 120-bed nursing home facility on Broadway, adjacent to the Bayonne Medical Center on East 29th Street.

The $25 million project proposed by Omni Healthcare of New Jersey, which owns and operates similar facilities in Union City, West New York, Jersey City and Secaucus, includes internal parking as well as ground floor retail. The project is expected to generate almost $500,000 additional property taxes as well as more than 200 jobs, not including construction jobs. Commencing in May, the project is expected to take 18 to 20 months to complete.

The Bayonne Crossing shopping mall on Route 440 and New Hook Road may actually break ground this year after several false starts and environmental cleanup issues.

Bayonne Crossing is expected to generate more than 800 full-time equivalent jobs, $2.5 million in Urban Enterprise Zone funds, and millions more in taxes over the next few decades.

Michael O’Connor, executive director of the Bayonne Economic Development Corporation, said the Route 440 site was a largely vacant and contaminated piece of property along the highway’s eastern side, between East 22nd Street and New Hook Road. It will become an engine for economic development not only along the eastern edge of Bayonne, but along the Broadway shopping corridor.

Although the decline in the economy has slowed the progress of the Broadway corridor redevelopment area near the 22nd Street station of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail line, talks are still ongoing with a potential developer, O’Connor said.

Also expected to break ground shortly is the new 35,000 square-foot off-track wagering facility operated by The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority on a six-acre track on the northbound side of Route 440 near East Fifth. The facility will include a restaurant and could generate a combination of 100 full and part-time jobs, including OTW staff, security, maintenance, and food service. A slightly smaller facility operating in Woodbridge currently sees $2 million wagered weekly.

Bergen Point poised for transformation

Breaking ground of the new Eighth Street rail station at the southern most terminus of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail line is one of the highlights of the Bergen Point shopping district.

The rail is being extended from its current end at 22nd Street to Eighth Street, where a new station is under construction.

The station will duplicate the historic Central Railroad Station that sat on a nearby site for 100 years until it was demolished in the early 1970s.

“This town was built around that rail line,” O’Connor said. “The existing Light Rail stations are situated where the Central Railroad ran. This will contribute to the revival of the community along that corridor, and Bergen Point will benefit because people can walk to the new station. You can predict an increase of investment in that area.”

At a time when manufacturing jobs are leaving Bayonne, O’Connor said he took particular pride in welcoming the Henry Repeating Arms Company to Bayonne. The company bought a warehouse on East First Street and is expected to generate 90 jobs.

Town Center offers promotions

Meanwhile, the Bayonne Town Center Management Corporation continues a host of programs designed to attract people to the Broadway shopping district, including some new promotions for Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day. This is in addition to their other events, such as outdoor movies, classic car shows, a hot dog eating contest, a sidewalk sale, mini-golf tournament, back to school promotions, art shows, Halloween pumpkin and costume contest, a Menorah lighting, a variety of Christmas events, and a Super Bowl raffle.

One of the more significant improvements to the Broadway shopping district, however, will be the renovation of the McDonald’s restaurant at 25th Street, which will hopefully start a trend of renovations along that part of the district.

Al Sullivan may be reached at
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