The team involved in Bridge Development Partners’ redevelopment of a 103-acre brownfield site in Perth Amboy, now known as the 1.3 million-square-foot Bridgeport I Logistics Center, received this year’s Industrial Deal of the Year from NAIOP New Jersey. — Courtesy: Bridge Development Partners
By Steve Dwyer
In the brownfield redevelopment universe, industrial projects have no equal thanks to the compound-complex nature of these mega-efforts, which are marked by X factors and uncertainty at every turn.
Think of a conductor tasked with guiding a multi-chair symphony orchestra through intricate movements of a complex score — compared to a more simplistic coordination helming a small chamber ensemble.
There’s a compelling difference, and thus welcome to the world of the industrial brownfield redevelopment, where multiple stakeholders are tasked with a multitude of boxes to check before any ribbon cutting can commence.
Industrial redevelopment projects can be done and done well — as long as there’s a laser-focused vision underpinning the effort. And, as long as there’s a unified team approach deployed. It’s an ideal that’s perennially advocated by the Brownfield Coalition of the Northeast (BCONE) and its network of members.
BCONE is able to cite several examples of industrial reuse excellence, and one shining example occurred in New Jersey, where an industrial redevelopment plan came together nicely on the footprint of a former refining and smelting facility in Perth Amboy.
It’s known as the Bridgeport I Logistics Center, a newly completed three-building campus that includes 1.3 million square feet of Class A industrial distribution space.
Bridge Development Partners accomplished what is now viewed as New Jersey’s premier industrial distribution campus. To illustrate its impact on the local community, the project was selected as the Industrial Deal of the Year for 2018 by the New Jersey chapter of NAIOP, the commercial real estate development association.
To add to its overall firepower, the development has opened doors for other brownfield redevelopments in the community to advance, proving that a site with such extensive contamination issues can be remediated and then morph into an economic, environmental and social boon.
“By remediating a formerly blighted and contaminated site and adding thousands of new jobs to the economy, our work at Bridgeport I Logistics Center will have a far-reaching impact across New Jersey and beyond,” said Jeff Milanaik, partner for Bridge’s Northeast region, who also hailed the Office of Brownfield Reuse of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, which worked with the Bridge team to address and reconcile many questions and challenges that arose when remediating contaminated properties.
The public-private partnership proved to also be instrumental, which is never an automatic as two disparate sides can often part ways on a host of issues.
“This project is a textbook example of public-private partnerships and how they work,” Milanaik said. “If it weren’t for the unwavering support of Mayor Wilda Diaz and the city of Perth Amboy this project would never have moved forward.”
Completed in October 2017, the $240 million project was part of a larger, $695 million national core portfolio sale to Duke Realty Corp., one of the largest industrial REITs in the United States. The deal marked the culmination of a large-scale redevelopment effort by Bridge to transform a 103-acre brownfield site into its current use.
Bridge acquired the property in 2015 and began work on transforming the blighted brownfield property — the former home of American Smelting and Refining Co. — into a modern facility that appeals to today’s logistics users. Bridge had taken over the remediation of the site from the seller, Viridian Partners Goldman Sachs.
Beginning in 2015 through completion, Bridge Development Partners’ Milanaik and John Porcek, along with CEO Steve Poulos and President Tony Pricco, worked to transform the brownfield site that lay in a blighted condition for years into one of the most advanced logistics centers in the country.
Bridge overcame complex challenges ranging from environmental contamination to poor geotechnical soil conditions that had caused the site to sit vacant for decades. The team had a vision of what the site could be: a state-of-the-art logistics campus situated in an ideal location along the New Jersey Turnpike off Exit 10, poised to draw major regional and last-mile distribution users.
Led by Milanaik, Bridge’s New Jersey office assembled a team of well-respected industry professionals to help address and solve complex site challenges. Premier Design Build acted as the general contractor and Menlo Engineering, SESI Engineering, Melick-Tully and Associates P.C., Excel Environmental and the law offices of Wanda Chin Monahan and Lane Miller all set out under the direction of Bridge as a collaborative group.
Environmental remediation is never a small task on an industrial site. This was no exception due to decades-long impacts from the smelting process as well as other volatile pollutants. Bridge took over the final remediation efforts, addressing 52 areas of environmental concern across the site.
Milanaik and his team established a strong relationship with DEP, particularly the Office of Brownfield Reuse. From the outset, it was made certain that Bridge’s and the DEP’s goals were properly aligned to ensure an environmentally safe and suitable site for development. This all cleared the way for state and federal approvals.
From the outset, Milanaik’s collaboration with Diaz ensured that the project would help advance community development through local job creation and stimulate economic growth as the first tenant, Target, is expected to employ about 1,500 full-time people.
The effort is a testament to vision, tight coordination and flexibility. Indeed, by remediating a formerly blighted and contaminated site and adding thousands of new jobs to the economy, the work at Bridgeport I Logistics Center is expected to have a far-reaching impact across New Jersey and beyond.
Steve Dwyer is a writer for the Brownfield Coalition of the Northeast.