Category Archives: New Jersey

Non-Essential Construction Can Begin Again Monday, May 18

Today, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced that non-essential construction can resume at 6 a.m. on Monday, May 18.

Construction sites can resume work with the following safeguards in place:

  • Clear posting of safety protocols
  • Preventing overcrowding
  • Prohibiting non-essential visitors
  • Staggering work hours and breaks
  • Ensuring proper sanitation

Murphy reiterated what he has said all along that the data will drive the re-opening process for the state. The state is “not out of the woods yet,” he said, sharing a chart that showed New Jersey is the most impacted state in the country right now. Social distancing and face-covering must continue. If the numbers of illness and hospitalizations go up, he will step back and restart the stay-at-home orders and once again shut down non-essential businesses.

New York and New Jersey Stay-at-Home Orders, School and Business Closures Extended to May 15

In their daily coronavirus press conferences on Thursday, New York governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey governor Phil Murphy extended their stay-at-home orders in each state until May 15. Murphy made the announcement, specifically discussing the closure of NJ’s public schools, but said he remains hopeful that with public health guidelines in place longer he can make a “different” announcement in a month.

Murphy mentioned construction when asked about the Turnpike Authority’s planned April 28 meeting, which would address possible toll hikes, and if he is allowing that meeting to go forward as planned. He said it could, but only if it was done in a virtual setting and allowed a longer period for public comment. Figuring out the budget is the key to continuing vital infrastructure projects.

“Transportation money needs to be the main source of transportation projects,” he said and noted that the state must continue to provide

“Construction as a general matter for rest areas [and] big highway projects, that’s going on because NJ goes on,” he said.

Cuomo discussed the strategy for reopening New York, which will actually be the strategy used by seven Northeast states–NY, NJ, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island–in an alliance of I-95 corridor states created this week. (The plan will be created by a group consisting of a head public health official, a chief economic development officer, and the governor’s chief of staff from each state.)

Cuomo tweeted the guidelines for the plan, reiterating what he has said in the past–this will not be a reset to the way things were before the shutdown, but the beginning of a new way of doing business until a viable treatment or widespread public vaccine is established.

“Employers will need to develop new practices around workplace social distancing rules, transportation, customer interactions, and more,” he tweeted. “We need proactive protocols in the event of an infection at a workplace.”

The return to business will be phased in on a “priority scale,” he said.

“Business will reopen based on the risk posed,”  he tweeted. “We will work on a regional basis.”

Construction Industry Assists in Health Crisis as Makeshift Hospitals Pop-Up in NY and NJ

While most of the Northeast is on hold, the construction industry continues to provide its essential work in New York and New Jersey. Not only have transportation, utility, housing, and emergency projects continued, contractors and developers have stepped up to assist FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers with some of the many temporary hospital facilities popping up in New York and New Jersey—the two states hardest hit by the novel coronavirus pandemic at this time.

Here are some of the fast-moving projects answering the call of the health care crisis by transforming convention and expo centers, college campuses and even a racetrack into makeshift medical facilities.

At the Meadowlands Convention Center, a general hospital has opened to care for those who require unrelated care and less severe COVID patients. The pop-up field hospitals at the Edison Convention Center and Atlantic City Convention Center are in progress. The Atlantic City site is scheduled to open on April 14.

Meanwhile in New York, construction is underway to convert the Westchester County Center’s main arena, several smaller main-level rooms and a second-floor theater into a hospital. At SUNY Stonybrook and SUNY Old Westbury sites, 250-bed treatment tents are scheduled to be completed on April 19. And three 1,000-bed units are set to begin construction at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, New York Expo Center in the Bronx and CUNY College Staten Island.

Hopefully, these sites will be enough to handle the influx of patients and, before too long, they can be returned to their intended purpose.

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.