Redevelopment plan for former Seahorse Express property on hold

The Planning Board may review the plans in a public hearing in October

The redevelopment plan for the former Seahorse Express property at 69-73 LeFante Way in Bayonne has been put on hold.

In February, the City Council passed a resolution authorizing the Planning Board to conduct a redevelopment study of the area. In June, the Planning Board and the City Council designated the area a non-condemnation area in need of redevelopment following the study, one of the first steps in the redevelopment process.

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The City Council simultaneously approved a resolution to draw up the redevelopment plan. Now that plan is set for a public hearing before the Planning Board as well as the City Council.

The proposal was initially slated for a consistency review with the city’s Master Plan before the Planning Board on August 9. After that, the City Council was set to adopt an ordinance approving the redevelopment plan on August 17.

However, things have been put on hold after an affiliated entity had some notes on the plan. City Planner Suzanne Mack explained the crux of the postponement at the August Planning Board meeting.

An important industrial area

“This is a very important project for the city of Bayonne,” Mack said. “It’s in an industrial area in the back of South Cove and we’re very anxious to see it move forward. However, since it has been noticed, there have been responsible parties in the area that have raised points that we had not included or considered. And it is the wish of the administration to ask that we adjourn or carry it this evening.”

Mack asked the consistency review to be postponed not the next meeting in September, but one in October. Everything should be worked out by then, she said.

“We would be ready to consider all the items that we have to by the end of September,” Mack said. “There is an arrangement… One of the commenters, there’s been an agreement on it which we would have to codify anyway. But there are several other issues on an infrastructure level that we would now want to consider. So the administration has asked that we table it.” 

The Planning Board did not have to take any action and the hearing was postponed. The same thing played out at the August 17 meeting of the City Council, because the Planning Board has to complete the review before the redevelopment plan can be approved by the City Council.

“They pulled it,” Coffey said. “They did not hear it, so that’s why we’re not considering it tonight.”

The Planning Board may hear the consistency review on October 11 at 6 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall at 630 Avenue C. The next City Council meeting after that would be on October 19 at 7 p.m., also in the council chambers at City Hall. For more information, go to bayonnenj.org.

Redeveloping the former Seahorse Express property

The 6.42 acre site is owned by North Hook Associates, LLC, and is currently home to a two-story building totaling approximately 67,516 square feet. Formerly occupied by Seahorse Express, a business that specialized in heavy machinery and transport for many years, the property has been vacant for approximately 10 years.

The redevelopment plan is intended to revitalize this vacant underutilized industrial site and reverse its ongoing stagnation. According to the proposed ordinance, “The redevelopment area is a gateway to the heavily industrialized area of Constable Hook, which is experiencing a surge in redevelopment activities. The Council supports this redevelopment renaissance and has authorized the redevelopment plan in the interest of furthering this trend.”

The site to the west is the South Cove Commons shopping center, to the north is the Bayonne Golf Club, and to the south and east are other industrial properties. Some surrounding “desolate” and “derelict” industrial sites and other neighboring areas are also seeing revitalization, akin to what is being proposed at this site.

A new warehouse facility is under construction at the Delta Self-Storage site across LeFante Way, another new warehouse is planned on the adjacent lot at the Accem Warehouse at 63 Hook Road, and warehouse renovations have been approved for Royal Wine at 63 LeFante Way, according to the redevelopment plan. The South Cove Commons shopping center is also currently undergoing renovations and is the subject of an “ambitious redevelopment plan,” according to the redevelopment plan.

The former Seahorse Express site is zoned for heavy industry, as well as some light industrial uses, and will remain that way under the redevelopment plan. In fact, the redevelopers have already made clear their intentions.

Plan necessary to allow remediation

Attorney for the redeveloper Michael Miceli previously told City Council that they want to build a new warehouse on the property.

“They want to knock this building down. It’s really dilapidated… We’re getting to the redevelopment plan stage… This will be a nice new facility,” Miceli said, confirming the site would likely be redeveloped into an industrial warehouse.

The owners had been trying to better the property, working to remediate the contaminated brownfield land with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, according to Mack. The site was badly flooded during Superstorm Sandy and other storms, with the former Seahorse Express building suffering damage that is “financially infeasible” to repair. Additionally, the flooding also unearthed contaminants in the soil, making remediation necessary.

Mack previously said the owner is looking to keep their business in the city. However, the site could only be further remediated and redeveloped with a redevelopment designation.

Following that designation and approval, the redevelopment plan now needs to be approved. After that, the redeveloper will likely need final site plan approval from the Planning Board.

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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