North Bergen adopts redevelopment plan for waterfront

The vacant lot is 1,141 feet along River Road, and is almost 37 acres

Mayor Nicholas Sacco and the North Bergen Board of Commissioners unanimously adopted an ordinance at the June 8 meeting for a redevelopment plan covering a portion of the township’s Hudson River waterfront.

The township previously had a redevelopment area study drawn up and presented to the North Bergen Planning Board in December of 2021. The commissioners authorized the designation of the area as in need of redevelopment in March of this year. In turn, subsequent to that designation, the commissioners authorized a redevelopment plan to be created.

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Redevelopment plan approved unanimously

The redevelopment plan for the area was incepted in April and presented to the planning board in May of this year. The commissioners introduced an ordinance okaying the plan and assuming the role of the redevelopment entity at a late May meeting.

Now in June, North Bergen has approved the redevelopment plan. The ordinance approving the redevelopment plan also consolidates all of the lots – Block 438, Lots 16, 17, 17.01, and 18, and a portion of Block 1 better known as 8200 River Road – into one lot known as Block 438, Lot 17.

The lot is bounded by River Road to the west and the Hudson River to the east, between 82nd Street and the Edgewater border. The lot has 1,141 feet of frontage on River Road, and in total, the area is over 36.45 acres of land.

According to the ordinance, the area is undeveloped other than a small asphalt parking area in the southwestern corner. There is also chain link fencing along the sidewalk on River Road, as well as the parking area and the remnants of former bulkheads and piers. 

Previous approvals proved fruitless

While development approval was previously granted, the land remained vacant. Plans never came to fruition for three 11-story buildings with 233 residential units and 517 parking spaces slated for the site after approval in 2013.

Despite the victory after a six year battle between the neighboring Bergen Ridge Home Owners Association and the redeveloper Riverview Development, LLC from Brooklyn, the project never moved forward, possibly due to issues with the waterfront development permit from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection amid the legal battle over the site. Things have stalled until now, and the township is stepping in.

According to the redevelopment plan, North Bergen is looking to add multi-family residential and the accompanying commercial uses and parking needs that the residents may need. With a maximum height of 80 feet which can translate to about eight stories, the plan aims to take advantage of the views offered at the Hudson River’s edge.

The area has been marked with development recently, with the township even authorizing a redevelopment study for the area at 7700 and 7800 River Road and 7701 Marine Road, which currently consist of various commercial buildings. Financial agreements are typically used to help finance such agreements, such as a 30-year payments-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) agreement with 7711-7815 River Road Associates, LLC for a planned 12-story mixed-use residential and commercial building at 7711, 7801, and 7809 River Road with 133 residential units, 161 off-street parking spaces, and 3,000 square feet of commercial space.

Attorney Ira Weiner represents the Bergen Ridge Home Owners Association at the June 8 meeting of the North Bergen Board of Commissioners.

A long time coming

At the meeting when the ordinance was introduced in May, there wasn’t much discussion. Sacco asked Township Counsel Tom Kobin about the plan, to which Kobin confirmed it was for 8200 River Road. Kobin remarked that “everyone is familiar with the property,” likely a nod to the prior lengthy battling over redeveloping the plot of land between the redeveloper and neighbors.

Sacco confirmed that there have been various approvals on the property for the past “20 to 30 years” but that nothing had ever come of it. Township Administrator Janet Castro also highlighted that there were past issues with the height of the proposed buildings on the property that lies right on the Edgewater border.

At the June meeting when the ordinance was adopted, there was only one speaker. Ira Weiner is an attorney representing the Bergen Ridge Home Owners Association, the aforementioned entity which led the fight against the previous approval.

Weiner did not object to the redevelopment plan, but asked if it was the same as when introduced. The board confirmed it was, and there were no other questions before the plan was okayed.

Now that the board adopted the ordinance authorizing the redevelopment plan, the township will need to designate a redeveloper first. Then, that redeveloper must seek final site plan approval by the North Bergen Planning Board before shovels can be put in the ground.

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.

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