The first phase of construction is underway for Jersey Walk, the mixed-use development at the site of the former Elizabeth General Hospital on E. Jersey St. in Elizabeth. The hospital closed more than a decade ago and the 5.5 acre site has sat unused. Now, a $125 million project is going up to try to revitalize the area and provide housing and retail space.
The first phase includes the construction of two six-story buildings. The approximately 218,000 square-feet will have 274 studio, one-bedroom, and two-room units, as well as 3,000 square feet of retail space on the ground level. The parking garage on the site, which can have nearly 550 spaces, will also be renovated.
Phase I is expected to be completed in Spring 2021.
Phase II will consist of the construction of two more six-story buildings with a total of 240 additional residential units.
Plans for the redevolpment of the site have been in the works for years. The property was sold to CMT Developers LLC in 2015. This March, the company received the funding it needed for the site, which is within walking distance of the Elizabeth Train Station and Elizabeth Avenue business district.
The marina in Pleasantville, NJ, hasn’t been a destination spot in recent years. But the $30 million Lakes Bay Marina project hopes to change all of that—and soon.
If developers get approval on their plans, they could finish dredging the marina this summer so that customers could house a boat in one of the 50 slips that will be available.
But the slips are just part of the bigger plan to revitalize the area on the 25-acre site. The project calls for the construction of 180 one- and two-bedroom apartments, a clubhouse, and pool. There will be a public space near the water, which could display artwork and host events like street fairs and festivals. If this project is completed and attracts interest as hoped, there is the possibility it would launch more development nearby, including residential housing, commercial retail and restaurants.
The planning board received the final plans and is reviewing them for completeness. No public meeting has been scheduled yet.
It would be the first free-standing cancer facility in New Jersey. The $750 million RWJBarnabas Health & Rutgers Cancer Pavilion in New Brunswick is set to be 510,000 square feet with 12 stories. It will house an inpatient hospital with surgical suites, an outpatient center, an urgent care, and research labs. The joint project of Rutgers Cancer Institute and New Brunswick Development Corporation (DEVCO) is projected to create 1,500 jobs. It is a joint project from RWJBarnabas Health. If all goes as planned.
While the healthcare world and cancer patients might eagerly await the dedicated facility many people the community oppose the project. The 1.6-acre site is currently the home of the Lincoln Annex Middle School, which has about 750 students. Part of the construction plan allocated $55 million to build a new three-story, 135,000 square-foot middle school. It would be a mile away and take three years to complete. In the meantime, students would be sent to a converted warehouse. Parents object not only to the interim setting but that the warehouse is outside of the neighborhood.
Governor Phil Murphy was asked about the project at his daily coronavirus press conference on Friday. Asked his opinion on the situation and if he would guarantee a new school would be built before the project started, Murphy touted New Jersey’s public education system before saying the proposed cancer center “is going to be a game-changer for a lot of things, including jobs and education. Beyond that, I’ve got not comment on that.”
State health commissioner Judith Persichilli, who received her nursing degree at Rutgers, was also asked about the situation and did not comment beyond saying that she had a lot of fond memories of her alma mater but “the bricks and mortar are not them.”
Demolition of the current school is targeted to begin in October with a projected completion of the cancer center in Fall of 2023.
But this week, in an effort to derail the plans, a lawsuit was filed by LatinoJustice on behalf of the school’s parents and students. It says the deed for the property requires that any construction on the land be a public school or administration building. Rutgers is part of the project, and a public university, but LatinoJustice lawyers do not believe that qualifies the cancer center as a “public school.”
The New Brunswick Board of Education approved plans for the proposed new school building and location in April, but opponents say it was done during the novel coronavirus pandemic and the public was left out of the process, unable to voice their opinion. A second legal action has actually been taken by the editor of New Brunswick Today against the Board of Education for violations of the Open Public Meetings Act. In January, the 4000-member local teachers union passed a unanimous resolution opposing the plan.
Some opponents might support the project if the new school is built first, however, that would obviously delay construction of the cancer center by years. For now, developers continue to target this fall to begin but for the project to continue at this site, the legal issues must be resolved.
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.
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.”
Bergen County executive Jim Tedesco is rescinding his order to halt all construction and utility work and shutdown of most retail activity in an attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus. The order, which was to go into effect on Saturday morning, is being rescinded at the request of NJ governor Phil Murphy, according to Tedesco. The Association Construction Contractors of New Jersey opposed the original order and were pursuing legal options.
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.
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.
The beginning of 2020 has seen a commitment from local government to turn open space into parks throughout the area.
In Mercer County, NJ, the county park commission approved a plan for the Miry Run Ponds Passive Park at Dam Site 21. The proposal covers the cleanup and conversion of 279 acres of county-owned space spanning Hamilton, Robbinsville and West Windsor. It will be turned into a passive recreation park with trail, walkways, playgrounds, a kayak launch and plantings to buffer nearby homes from the park.
In northern NJ, the Hoboken major reiterated the city’s commitment to coming to terms on a deal that would allow the conversion of the 3.15 acres of Union Dry Dock property into a waterfront park.
And in Eastern Delaware County, PA, the county council has declared that 30 acres of open space is OK for park use. The county released the Rosa Tree Park at Little Flower Manor Open Space Master Site Development Plan in Darby Borough. The master plan includes picnic groves, a walking trail connection to the Darby Creek Trail at the Woodburne Mansion property, as well as a community garden and an education center. An engineering study on the restoration of the historic 49,000 square foot Woodburne Mansion located on the property has not yet been completed