Bayonne eyes redeveloping former Exxon property

The surrounding area has been booming with industrial redevelopment

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An aerial view of the Exxon-owned portion of the redevelopment area.
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The red-outlined area shows the Exxon-owned portion of the redevelopment area.
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The red-outlined area shows the Bayonne Industries-owned portion of the redevelopment area.
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An aerial view of the Exxon-owned portion of the redevelopment area.
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The red-outlined area shows the Exxon-owned portion of the redevelopment area.
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The red-outlined area shows the Bayonne Industries-owned portion of the redevelopment area.

The Bayonne Planning Board has designated a number of lots, mainly consisting of a former Exxon property, as a non-condemnation area-in-need-of-redevelopment. This is the first step taken to redevelop the area. The redevelopment study of the site was presented to the board by City Planner Suzanne Mack.

The property is located in the heavy industrial area of Constable Hook. Adjacent to the property is land currently owned and in use by International-Matex Tank Terminals (IMTT), and other industrial entities.

“The area is characterized by tank farms, marine terminals, and industrial uses related to its location along Kill van Kull,” Mack said.

The site is remote in the sense that most of the industrial area off of New Hook Road in that part of Bayonne is privately owned, without direct public access.

“It’s a very remote area for the citizens of Bayonne,” she said.

According to Mack, the entire site meets a few criteria to be designated a non-condemnation area in need of redevelopment because it has a faulty design, has fire and other damage, and because redeveloping the site would be in line with “smart growth” principles. All but two of the lots that make up the site are located in the Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ), fulfilling another criteria for redevelopment. Additionally, title issues might make the site also meet criteria for under-utilization in the future, Mack said.

Exxon property finally being redeveloped?

Most of the property is owned by Exxon Corporation, but some of the lots to the north are owned by Bayonne Industries Inc. Mack said that Exxon has had a long history in Bayonne, but that its 80-acre lot within the redevelopment area has been vacant since the 1990s. Only a few remaining tanks in place and a trailer used by employees as an office are still standing. However, it only partially meets the non-condemnation area in need of redevelopment criteria for vacant land.

Mack said there was a settlement on the site in 1995, which will allow the site to be cleaned up for reuse.

“It is a heavily contaminated area that has been closed for many years now,” she said. “Now, very appropriately, we’re going to try to move it to redevelopment of this really important area.”

The surrounding area is witnessing a surge in industrial redevelopment, making this site a logical area to continue the trend.

“This board approved the redevelopment plan for PDQ Plastics,” she said. “We also have Gordon Terminal there. Recognizing the potential of industrial development in the area, this board has also approved two redevelopment plans and two area-in-need studies at 7 Lower Hook Road and 6 Commerce Street.”

Mack said its location on the waterfront also makes it a prime area for industrial redevelopment.

“This parcel is actually waterfront property, which is very important for the development of the parcel,” she said. “It’s amazing, we have 80 acres on the waterfront that’s available for redevelopment.”

The red-outlined area shows the Exxon-owned portion of the redevelopment area.

Meeting criteria for redevelopment

The entire parcel meets faulty design criteria because there is no landscaping, excessive pavement, and remote access without direct roads. According to Mack, another example of obsolescence or faulty design is the mechanical equipment that was on site to move things is still in place.

The whole parcel of land also meets the criteria for fire or other damage. The area was subject to severe flooding during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, causing the site to lose land value. Mack said the site has to be remediated, not only due to the aforementioned contamination, but also due to the flooding experienced.

Additionally, the entire parcel meets the criteria for “smart growth” principles because it is currently not in use and would be back in use after redevelopment.

The 41.8 acres of land at 250 East 22nd Street, to the north of the 80-acre Exxon lot, largely belongs to Bayonne Industries Inc. and serves as a bulk liquid storage facility for IMTT. The buildings are still in operation and good condition and will not be designated, but Mack said that certain land was designated to allow for access to the site.

“We’re looking at these lots with IMTT’s permission to have them designated so that they can become the access roads into, and really fulfill the full potential, of the Exxon site,” she said.

The northern land falls under all the aforementioned criteria but also falls within the UEZ, fulfilling another criteria to designate the site as an area-in-need-of-redevelopment, according to Mack.

“Not having been used for about 30 years, this is certainly in line to have it declared and then having redevelopment on that site,” she said. “The market for industrial right now is staggering. There is a great upsurge of redevelopment in industrial areas throughout the state. This is very timely for us to be considering it.”

The red-outlined area shows the Bayonne Industries-owned portion of the redevelopment area.

Board approves designation

Chairwoman Karen Fiermonte said: “The property hasn’t been utilized in so many years and we’re looking at redevelopment at some point and to clean it up. This is a great presentation. It fits and we don’t often see this.”

“It’s highly contaminated land and its high time that its redeveloped and it becomes a vital part of the community again,” said Commissioner Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski.

Commissioner Ramon Velez added: “That’s a prime location for industrial redevelopment, being near the water. I hope it will benefit the city of Bayonne.”

The matter now heads back to the Bayonne City Council, which will need to adopt a resolution declaring the site a non-condemnation area-in-need-of-redevelopment. The council will then have to authorize the board to draw up a redevelopment plan. Following the board and council approval of the plan, the board can hear applications to develop the property.

The next meeting of the Bayonne Planning Board will be at 6 p.m. on Dec. 6 in the council chambers at City Hall at 630 Avenue C. The Bayonne City Council will next meet at 7 p.m. on Dec. 15, also in the council chambers. For more information, go to bayonnenj.org.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.