Category Archives: New Jersey

Medical Marijuana Sparks Facilities Construction

Construction of medical marijuana facilities and distribution centers has become a consistent piece of industry business in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  And as legalizing recreational marijuana is discussed in state legislatures throughout the country, there is growing possibility that more of these facilities will be needed.

Right now there are four projects either in planning or under construction in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In October, a project was completed in Chester, PA.

There are specific considerations when building such a facility, according to the Cannabis Business Times, including designing for the proper air flow and humidity and availability of power and water. And of course, as with any construction, location is key.

In Green Township, NJ, discussions are underway about what to do with the Trinca Airport Redevelopment site. A medical marijuana facility is a possibility, although critics say it would violate the Drug Free School Zone laws. A solar farm is also an option there.

Meanwhile, a spring 2020 target date has been set for a 70,000-square-foot Agronomed Medical Marijuana Growing & Processing Facility on a nearly nine acre site in Chester, PA; the Harmony Foundation Medical Marijuana Facility at the Merck Site in Lafayette, NJ, has a target date in the third quarter of this year; and applications for a final site plan have been approved for a project in Rochelle Park, NJ.

The Harmony job consists of two-story, 282,000-square-foot facility with one existing building on the site renovated for administration, research and development space. Two lanes of roadway will also be added in an attempt to reduce any added traffic.

In Rochelle Park, the plan calls for a medical marijuana facility of more than 7,000 square feet in a space currently occupied by an antique store. In addition, there would be construction of a six-story self-storage facility with more than 120,000 square feet at the site of an existing retail center.

High Hopes for Mixed-Use, Transit-Oriented Project in East Brunswick

Commuting is often a necessary evil for New Jersey residents, but plans for a new mixed-used, transit-oriented development in East Brunswick aim to make it a little more pleasant—at least at the start and end of each day.

The $500 million project along the Route 18 corridor will have a bus terminal and commuter parking structure at the core of a site with 800 residential units, as well as retail shops, restaurants, a hotel, tech center, medical office building, outdoor amphitheater, indoor/outdoor pet facility, public plaza, and pedestrian walkways.

For those already worried about traffic in and out of the development, the plan includes the creation of parallel side streets to allow for alternate routes. And the developer, River Development, hopes to work with the state’s Department of Transportation to add a left-turn only lane onto Route 18 off of Edgeboro Rd.

The project will also revitalize the township, and specifically the 44-acre site on Route 18 between Ruth Street and Lake Street.

“This commercial corridor, one that sits right at the center of New Jersey, that still sees over 100,000 cars each day, that connects New Brunswick and Rutgers to the Shore, that sits at the cross-section of almost every major highway in New Jersey, that is equidistant between New York City and Philadelphia, is in desperate need of revitalization, and that is exactly what we’ve spent the last two years doing,” East Brunswick mayor Brad Cohen said earlier this month when the East Brunswick Redevelopment Agency released renderings for the project.

The project is expected to be three phases over the next five to seven years and, when it’s done, Cohen wants it to have something for everyone.

“We have aimed to create a true transit-oriented development which meets the needs of residents and consumers of the 21st century,” Cohen said. “We want to create a community that appeals to all age groups, including those starting out and those looking to downsize.”

Property acquisition continues and work will include the demolition of existing structures on the property, which is expected to begin this summer.

Hoboken Plans Water Main, Park and Light Rail Projects

It’ll be a busy year of growth and upgrades in Hoboken if mayor Ravi Bhalla can put his plans into action.
On Wednesday, Bhalla outlined his 2020 priorities for the Hudson County city. Among them, working with developers and stakeholders on a new light rail station at 15th Street to meet the needs of a growing North End.
In more immediate construction, the city plans to replace more than 2.7 miles of water mains this year. It is part of a larger overhaul of the water infrastructure and the city will use independent funding, including proceeds from the SUEZ agreement that provides $33 million in water main upgrades over the next 15 years.
Bhalla also prioritized the city’s parks. There will be renovations at Legion Park in North Hoboken, including modern playground equipment for children with special needs, as well as at Jefferson Park in South Hoboken, which will also get new playground equipment. But kids aren’t the only ones who can look forward to a better play place this year. The dog parks at Church Square Park and Stevens Park will get “modern canine turf” with the new runs modeled after the ones at 2nd and Hudson streets.
He also talked about the Union Dry Dock plans, which many may have thought had died.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t reiterate my administration’s unwavering commitment to securing Union Dry Dock to create a waterfront park,” he said. “While you may not have heard many updates recently, rest assured that we are making real progress behind the scenes with both New York Waterway and the Governor’s office. I’m optimistic that we will finally see a positive ending this year that preserves Union Dry Dock for public, open space.”

His emphasis on keeping park and waterfront space means a promise to prevent development in parts of the city.

“Defending our precious waterfront from massive overdevelopment also includes preventing the two Monarch towers in Northern Hoboken,” he said. “This year, a central priority of mine is to work with the Council to finalize an agreement that would prevent, once and for all, large scale development along our northern waterfront.”

Murphy Puts Focus on Fixing Water Infrastructure, Lead Issues

New Jersey governor Phil Murphy presented his state-of-the-state address this week and cited addressing water infrastructure issues and lead exposure as one of his priorities for the coming year.

Murphy spoke about the Newark water crisis last year and pledged to attack the lead issues—in pipes and paint—across the state in a way that would translate into a lot of jobs in the industry.

“We will need to mobilize a veritable army of union workers – plumbers and pipefitters, remediation experts, carpenters and laborers, among so many other tradespeople,” Murphy said.

But that work might not come this year despite the urgency. The governor admitted that the funding is not secured, and the amount needed is unknown at this point. He says it will require “a significant investment” and hopes to let the public decide on election day.

“Let’s work together, now, to come to an agreement on what this investment needs to be — so we can put it before the voters this November, and can invest in our communities that much faster,” he said.

As this is one of Murphy’s major initiatives for 2020, NJ residents can expect more details on his plan to tackle these issues and the possible number of jobs and projects that will be part of the solution in his budget address later in the year.

Passaic City Council Moves to Acquire Land for Redevelopment

Keep an eye on Passaic in the new year. Big redevelopment opportunities may be coming.

This week, the city council introduced a redevelopment plan and $1.6 million bond ordinance to buy a stretch of railroad track between Pulaski Park and Dundee Island Park, which broke ground last month on a re-design that calls for a new soccer field, playground, garden, amphiteater, and river walk.

The plan proposed for the 2.7-acre plot, which would connect the two parks, calls for up to 265 housing units, with an estimated 10 to 15 percent of the units being used for low- or moderate-income housing. There will also be retail space, as the mayor hopes to lure new businesses to a neighborhood that is known as a high crime area.

A public hearing on the bond ordinance and the redevelopment plan will be held on Jan. 7.

Morris County Courthouse Expansion Enters Design Phase

The long-awaited Morris County Courthouse Expansion has taken another step forward.

Last week, the schematic design phase began after the county freeholders awarded AECOM with the project. This decision followed years of proposals and discussions, according to the Daily Record.

While county officials may have debated the best and most cost-effective way to move forward, there was no question that an update was required. The oldest structure in the court facilities still in use was built in 1827, with several expansions and additions since—the last coming in 1989.

AECOM, based in Clifton, is charged with designing an environmentally friendly and energy efficient new secure criminal court facility and modern court space that would be attached to the County Administration and Records Building in Morristown. The company shared its design for the site off Schuyler Place, which is currently open air parking lot.

Solving one possible issue, the new design will not require the removal and replacement of the Morris County Tourism Bureau or Deidre’s House facility for young victims of abuse and neglect, according to the county’s announcement of this next step. Both of those buildings are on Court Street and adjacent to the site of the new criminal courts.

While the complete project is expected to cost $106 million total, the new courthouse is $62 million with an additional $44 million for renovations to the existing historic courthouse and five-story Administration and Records Building.

There is no exact timeline set yet. This Phase I of this proposed six-phase project is estimated to take 18 to 24 months.  In 2017, Dewberry-NJ Designers PC provided freeholders with a report called “Master Plan of Space Needs and Facilities Assessment,” which proposed the project be six phases with completion by 2030, according to the Daily Record.

Mixed-Use Plans for Edgewater Site Remain Under Review

The Edgewater Golf Complex on River Road has been closed for two years, and the future of the 12.8-acre site remains up in the air—under review by the town’s planning board, to be more accurate.

Fort Lee-based developer Rich Mark Development Group wants to build a mixed-use, seven-story building at 575 River Rd. The construction would include 384 residential units and more than 53,000 square feet of commercial, office, and retail space. It would also have a rooftop pool, a public park, and a community plaza.

Among the 384 residential units, 19 would be three-bedroom townhomes, 264 would be two-bedroom units, and 101 would be one-bedroom units, Ted Osborne, the project’s architect, told the planning board during a hearing, according to an article on northjersey.com. There would also be 58 units designated for affordable housing.

The first two floors of the building would be a two-level “podium,” which would include a parking garage and two stories of commercial and retail space as well as access for the public to get to the commercial space and Hudson River Waterfront Walkway, according to Osborne.

Not unexpectedly for a property on River Rd, parking is the biggest issue. The purposed parking options would require the “one of the most significant variances” sought by the developer. The original plan offered 420 spaces when more than 1,000 off-street spots would be required, northjersey.com said.

After an October meeting with the planning board, the plans remain under review by the Edgewater Zoning Board of Adjustment.

Industrial Sector Will Continue to be Driving Force in NJ Construction Next Year

Industrial development is going to continue to be a driving force in New Jersey’s construction industry in the near future but land supply will likely fall short of the demand, according to CBRE, a commercial real estate and investment firm, which released its third quarter industrial market report for the state and looked at 2020 and 2021 as well.

“The demand is there,” said Mindy Lissner, CBRE industrial broker and executive vice president told RealEstateNJ. “It’s justifying the pipeline and what’s getting built, so I don’t think we’re overbuilding—I think we need more buildings right now to satisfy requirements.”

Projected deliveries through 2020 will add roughly 22 million square feet to New Jersey’s stock of industrial space, Lissner said. About a third of that space is “already leased or spoken for,” she said, adding that the firm is tracking between 40 million and 50 million square feet of current demand overall. That would be nearly two-thirds of the state’s overall construction pipeline that CBRE is tracking over a five-year horizon, which comprises about 150 projects spanning 65 million to 70 million square feet, according to the article.

E-commerce companies looking for warehouses to store their products are a primary factor for the quest for more space. But it’s not just about space. These corporations are also looking for more modern, better functioning facilities that have higher ceilings, technology, and better, more efficient layouts than the buildings of the past, Lissner said.

Some of the biggest industrial projects in the state include: the 4.1 million square foot Linden Logistics Center; the Opus Warehouses 975,000 square-foot distribution center in Phillipsburg; and Kingsland Meadowlands three million square-feet of warehouse space on more than 700 acres spanning parts of North Arlington, Lyndhurst and Rutherford.

Industrial construction won’t be the only area to see growth in the near future. The CBRE third quarter office market report released last week predicts that office construction in South Jersey’s Philadelphia suburbs will improve as well with space more than doubling in Philadelphia and the surrounding area, the report said.

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.