Category Archives: New Jersey

Decision on Toms River Superfund Solar Farm Coming Soon

The fate of the proposed Toms River solar farm should be known in a couple of weeks when the planning board meets on October 16. Toms River Merchant Solar LLC, which hopes to build New Jersey’s largest farm on the former Ciba-Geigy Superfund Site, must answer the public’s concerns about environmental issues and security, which derailed a decision during September’s Planning Board meeting.

The plan—which calls for 35 megawatt DC ground-mounted solar photovoltaic power generation facility with 90,000-92,000 solar panels—doesn’t just need approval from the town. If passed by the town over the objections of nearby residents who worry that contaminants will be disturbed by the construction, it will then require Ocean County and NJ Department of Environmental Protection approvals. Should it go through, the project will be supervised by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The facility would cover almost 118 of the 166 acres leased from the 1,200 overall acres of the Superfund Site on Route 37. If approved, construction could begin as early as February. The project is expected to take six months to complete.

While that would create the biggest solar farm in the state, it pales in comparison to the largest solar farm in the United States. In California, Solar Star covers 3,200 acres with 1.7 million solar panels and produces nearly 580 megawatts of energy. It is actually two co-located solar installations and took three years to complete construction.

Governor Phil Murphy has been a proponent of solar and other renewable energy sources. His energy master plan, released in June, calls for New Jersey to be completely reliant on renewable sources by 2050.

NJ Voters Approve More Than $160 Million in for School Construction

In towns around New Jersey on Tuesday, voters decided on nine school bond referendums. Eight out of the nine passed to fund projects that will total more than $160 million in spending for renovations, upgrades, and new construction.

Five days during the year, school boards can ask voters to approve school construction proposals. The state will fund at least 40 percent of eligible school construction costs through annual debt service aid thanks to the Educational Facilities Construction and Financing Act. All of the referendums that passed are at least partially eligible for state funds, according to the NJ School Board Association.

According to the NJSBA, the projects that received voter approval are:

In Rutherford, the $45 million plan includes renovating high school science labs and adding them at Union Middle School. It also includes HVAC, electrical and plumbing upgrades.

At Rancocas Valley Regional High School in Burlington County, the nearly $22 million proposal includes fire and security upgrades and renovations of bathrooms, windows, HVAC and more.

In Oaklyn, Camden County, the bond referendum was for a new HVAC system and main entrance, as well as a roof, drains and windows for just under $4 million.

The Carteret School District in Middlesex County asked for $37 million to build a new junior high school for seventh and eighth grade and renovate multiple elementary schools.

Fair Haven schools in Monmouth County passed a referendum for more than $15 million to expand full-day kindergarten, renovate with a focus on STEAM courses and improve security and HVAC systems.

Rockaway Borough in Morris County got approval for expansion and renovation at an elementary school and middle school that will include classrooms, electrical, plumbing and HVAC work totaling about $12.5 million.

Watchung Hills Regional High School, which takes students from Somerset and Morris counties, will undergo renovations including upgrades to the media center and electrical system. The board says no new tax dollars will be needed for the nearly $4 million project thanks to other funds.

In Hawthorne, Passaic County, more than $24 million will go to upgrades and renovations to the media center, science lab, fire and electrical systems. There will also be asbestos removal, roof repairs and a boiler replacement.

The lone referendum to fail:

In Colts Neck, the $25 million proposal addressed indoor air quality by replacing the HVAC and electrical systems and removing asbestos flooring.

 

New Law Aims to Expedite TTF Projects, Aid Infrastructure Repair

As Newark residents deal with the crisis of lead in the water, once again the dangerously aging infrastructure in New Jersey is in the spotlight.

Last month, Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill into law that aims to better the process for Transportation Trust Fund projects, which is intended to reduce delays in planning and bidding and save money. That should also impact the ability to get moving on infrastructure projects around the state, according to the bill sponsors.

“If we are going to improve our failing infrastructure, the state must do a better job with the TTF money.” said assemblyman Anthony Bucco (R-Morris), one of the sponsors of the bill.

Projects similar in size and scope that are funded in part or completely through TTF can now be bundled and included under a single contract, according to njspotlight.com. Supporters of the law say that should expedite approvals, control costs and get projects moving more quickly.

State senate president Steve Sweeney said the law will “facilitate the timely contracting and completion of capital projects by allowing third-party engineering consultants to ensure that contractors are completing projects on time and within budget. This will make the construction and repair of vital transportation projects more efficient and more effective. We want to put people to work and get the projects done in a timely manner so that improvements to our roads, bridges and other transportation facilities are made as quickly as possible.”

We’d like to know what you think—will this law have a positive impact?

Apprenticeship Law Impacts Companies

This year’s new apprenticeship requirements appear to be impacting the number of contractors who seek public works registration certification.

The law requires New Jersey public works contractors to participate in a U.S. Department of Labor-approved apprenticeship program to get or renew a public works contractor’s registration certificate. It requires any apprenticeship program include training for “every classification of worker that is employed on public works projects.”

According to the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the year to date numbers show a marked decline in contractors seeking the certification in the state.

As of June 30, 2018, NJ Labor Department registered 4,429 contractors.

As of June 30, 2019, there were 2,518 contractors registered.

While we can’t say how much of the drop is caused by the new law, which was signed by the governor in January, anecdotally, we do know some contractors have not sought a new license this year specifically because of the apprenticeship requirement.

“The Labor Department is committed to working with contractors to help them into compliance with the new apprenticeship requirement,” a department spokesperson said in an email.

We’d like to hear from you. How has the apprenticeship law impacted your company?

Hackensack Looks To The Record Site To Lead City’s Riverside Redevelopment

The Record newsroom in Hackensack was never known for its fancy amenities. The printing press would rumble to life in the old building adjacent to the Hackensack River, and the work of reporters and editors would transfer to the page before being moved to delivery trucks to spread the area’s news to the people of Bergen County. When the owners of the newspaper moved its headquarters to Woodland Park, the site sat vacant for years.

Soon, though, developers will break ground on a $145 million redevelopment of the site, creating luxury apartments and retail units in a project that is Hackensack’s first luxury, mixed-used riverfront community and the largest project of its kind in the city, according to northjersey.com. City officials hope it leads the transformation of the waterfront area from largely industrial to residential and retail, and becomes a destination for people looking to move or shop in Bergen County.

The Record building was demolished in 2018, clearing the way for a redevelopment plan that will build approximately 700 luxury residences spread among five buildings. There will be 18,000 square-feet of retail space and a hotel on the 19.7 acre property.

The neighboring Heritage Diner will remain in place. Plans for the USS Ling, a submarine that was part of the NJ Naval Museum that once operated from the property, have not been announced.

The redevelopment is expected to create 250 construction jobs, and the project is expected to be fully completed in 2025.

One Million SF in E-Commerce Warehouse Space Coming to Bayonne

For consumers, part of the appeal of buying things online is avoiding a brick-and-mortar store. The item goes from the website to their doorstep, like magic. But all of those e-commerce purchases do need a place to go during the shipping process. For the tristate area, that place is going to be a collection of warehouses on a man-made peninsula in Bayonne.

Lincoln Logistics Bayonne is being built on 90 acres of land that once belonged to the U.S. government and was home to the Military Ocean Terminal tract. It has been dormant since 1999. The site plan consists of four warehouse buildings, individually ranging from 150,000 square feet to 477,000 square feet and totaling 1.6 million square feet for e-commerce shipments. Each building will have 40-foot ceilings.

Vertical construction is expected to begin in early 2020. To be ready for redevelopment, the 70-year-old structures on the site were demolished, and to comply with post-Hurricane Sandy standards, the elevation of the site is being raised six feet.

The location provides access for shipping. Lincoln Logistics Bayonne will contain nearly 63 acres of riparian water rights and maritime access to the Hudson River and Newark Bay. It will also have immediate access to nearby major highways, including the New Jersey Turnpike and routes 78, 440 and 1 and 9. It is also adjacent to the Global Container Terminal and is less than 10 miles from Newark Liberty International Airport. And, according to developer Lincoln Equities Group (LEG), there are 27 million consumers within a two-hour drive and 59 million consumers within a 5-hour drive from the location.

“We’re just 7 miles from Newark and 8 miles from the Holland Tunnel,” LEG President Joel Bergstein said during a tour of the site in June. “This will be a prime distribution point for the city.”

The redevelopment is expected to create 2,700 jobs.

Mixed-Use, Transit-Oriented Project Key in Paterson’s Plan for Renewal

Paterson officials are once again talking about a renaissance. The key piece to this attempt at making Silk City more attractive to young adults and businesses is a proposed $34 million mixed-use building across from the Paterson train station.

When announcing the plans, mayor Andre Sayegh said the city is looking to attract millennials and become a hub for young professionals the way other area cities have done. There is Hoboken, of course, and Jersey City. Harrison has exploded with residential and retail construction built in the areas surrounding the PATH station—and part of the development was a new PATH station that was recently opened as well.

“Paterson, we believe, is the next frontier,” Sayegh said as he unveiled the plans for the “transit-oriented” project that will include 160 multi-family apartments— running from approximately 400 to 850 square feet each, as well as a food hall, co-working space, retail businesses, 15,000 square feet for a business incubator program for the fashion and garment industry. It has a targeted date for completion at the end of 2022.

Developer Anthony LoConte will handle the project at the Ward St. and Memorial Drive site where an old parking garage now sits.

The project will create more than 60 construction jobs and the retail space will create 15 full-time jobs when the project is completed, according to the Paterson Times. LoConte hopes to break ground in the next eight months and plans to be involved in more projects around the city, the story said.

New Jersey’s Biggest, Boldest Mixed-Use Project: Riverton Redevelopment in Sayreville

Riverton, mixed-use redevelopment along two miles of the Raritan River in Sayreville, is one of New Jersey boldest projects. It’s also one of the biggest. The $2.5 billion project on 418 acres is the largest mixed-use development in NJ history and believed to be the largest mixed-use project in development in the U.S. right now, according to NJ.com.

Don’t blame locals if they adopt a “I’ll believe it when I see it” attitude to the dreams of creating “America’s Next Great Hometown.” Attempts to redevelop the area have been ongoing for more than a decade. The previous developer never began construction after attempts to clean-up the contaminated site.

The current plan calls for a marina, two hotels, 1 million square feet of retail space and 1 million square feet of office space, 10 restaurants, and 2,000 residential units of single-family homes and apartments. It is expected to be built in phases and take 10 years to complete once they start construction.

But it won’t be easy—to build or win over the public. The developer, North American Properties (NAP), and Sayreville Economic & Redevelopment Agency (SERA) have faced some pushback, including a poll sent to area residents at the end of 2018 that town officials say was from an outside organization trying to mislead the public about the project with questions that “appear created to incite fear and spread rumor.” And while NAP boasts access to highways and the number of people within 20 miles, some are concerned about the amount of traffic and congestion in the area. Part of the plan, however, is to create its own Riverton exit on the Garden State Parkway, according to a story from News12 New Jersey, which toured the site.

If all goes as the developers plan, Riverton residents won’t have to leave the area very often. They can work, live, dine out, and meet all of their entertainment and recreation needs right there.

North Haledon Hopes to Jump-Start Development with Residential Units

The mayor of North Haledon is praising newly approved housing projects that will go up in his town as a deal that will jump-start development to turn a “blighted” industrial area into a residential neighborhood that will spur more construction in the area, according to an article on northjersey.com.

The multiple Belmont Avenue projects will bring more than 200 apartments–with some affordable housing units among them–and at least 30 townhouses into the area near the completed Belmont Estates townhouses, the story said.

As part of a way to bring in developers, the town is working on a payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement that would allow the developers to make payments to the town based on a percentage of revenue instead of paying taxes.

The North Haledon mayor called it a good deal saying the town would make a “tremendous amount of money.”

If the developers and building owners paid taxes instead, that tax revenue would have gone to the school district, according to the story.

New Report Ranks Flood-Prone Hoboken As 2nd U.S. City To Be Underwater by 2100

In a special report analyzing data from a 2018 study, 24/7 Wall Street named the top 35 U.S. cities that could be underwater by the turn of the century. Of those 35, nine were in New Jersey with Hoboken coming in No. 2 on the list.

According to the 24/7 Wall Street, nearly 30 percent of Hoboken’s population with homes is at risk of flooding by 2060 and nearly 50 percent of habitable land will be underwater by then. By 2100, 44 percent of Hoboken’s homes will be at risk of flooding and 71 percent of habitable land will be underwater.

But the mayor of Hoboken pushed back on the report, according to News12 NJ, saying that it didn’t take into account the Rebuild by Design project and initiatives the city has planned and has already put in place to fight the city’s history of flooding, including pumps, resiliency parks and underground retention tanks.

Miami Beach, FL, was No. 1 on the list. The other NJ cities are: Atlantic City (3), Ocean City (12), Ventnor City (16), Pennsville (24), Little Ferry (26), Brigantine (29), Margate City (32) and Secaucus (35).

24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from “Underwater,” published June 2018 by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based environmental watchdog group the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). That study identified U.S. coastal communities where the largest number of residents live in properties that are projected to face by 2060 the highest level of chronic and disruptive flooding, or effective inundation—defined as being at risk of flooding 26 times or more per year. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the number of properties and total value of properties that are exposed to flood risk based on a “high” scenario calculated by the Union for Concerned Scientists.

“Cities and institutions can mitigate flood damage by implementing wetlands, levees, and other mechanisms, and many of the cities on this list have taken steps to implement these measures,” 24/7 Wall Street said. “It is important to note that the estimates published by the UCS do not take into account the mitigating effects of such mechanisms.”