Leaders of the Bedrin Organization and March Associates Construction joined local officials and other team members on May 27 to break ground on a new mixed-use project at 204 Wagaraw Road in Hawthorne. — Courtesy: Briana Samman/March Associates
By Joshua Burd
A joint venture has broken ground on a long-awaited project that will bring new apartments, a self-storage facility and a national fitness chain to the Passaic County borough of Hawthorne.
Executives with the Bedrin Organization, which is partnering with March Associates Construction, say the development at 204 Wagaraw Road will transform a former industrial site that the firm and local officials have sought to repurpose for more than a decade. The property has at times been slated for uses such as a department store and a supermarket — plans that would go unrealized — but construction is now underway for what will be 118 luxury units, 120,000 square feet of self-storage space and a retail section anchored by Planet Fitness.
The developers joined local officials and others last week to mark the ceremonial start of the property, which is about a quarter-mile from NJ Transit rail service.
“You just can’t do a project like this, of this scale and scope, without the support of the community,” said Garret Bedrin, a partner and third-generation member of the Bedrin Organization, who cited the roles of Mayor Richard Goldberg, the borough council and local officials involved in the project. “And you have to take a partnership approach. It’s not about what just the Bedrins want. It’s about what’s right for the community, and I think we’re all really satisfied with how this came together as a mixed-use asset that is transit-oriented and that’s just an incredible project.
“So we thank the community for helping us deliver what will promise to be a best-in-class asset for everyone to be proud to say, ‘Welcome to Hawthorne.’ ”
Slated for completion in late summer 2022, the project’s residential component includes 60 percent two-bedrooms and 40 percent one-bedrooms, Bedrin said. Plans call for amenities such as a 750-square-foot rooftop deck, dog parks, co-working space and rentable private office suites for residents, he said, citing a focus on both remote workers and health and wellness.
Bedrin said he expects the project to draw both young families and empty-nesters who are downsizing from single-family homes. Those residents will also benefit from the site’s other uses, including the Planet Fitness along Wagaraw Road, for which they will have complementary memberships, along with the four-story self-storage facility on the western edge of the parcel.
Borough officials cheered the milestone, which comes 13 years after Bedrin acquired the seven-acre property from Merck & Co. The Glen Rock-based firm originally planned to build a 100,000-square-foot Kohl’s store at the site, only to see the plan evaporate during the recession, followed by a proposed Walmart supermarket that was derailed by litigation and local opposition.
Bedrin also pointed to a version of the project that had more apartments with less retail space, but worked with local officials to scale that down.
“We’ve had great hopes for this piece of property and it’s thrilling to see a brownfield site become something important in the community,” said Goldberg, the borough’s mayor. “It’s a great thing, so I thank the Bedrin family for their persistence and their vision, and today we’re breaking ground on what’s going to be a great project.”
Bedrin had tapped March Associates as its general contractor for the project around two years ago, but recently asked the Wayne-based firm to come in as a partner. It was a natural fit for a relationship that goes back more than three decades, when March Associates founder Lou March was a customer of the Bedrins’ office supplies business at the time.
“It’s a great project and a great partner,” said Lou March Jr., president of March Associates. “They’re very strong in ownership and financing and we’re really strong in construction, so it made sense … We’ll build off each other’s strengths.”
Valley Bank is financing the project, whose team also includes Langan, Keystone Structural Group, DJM Consulting Engineers, Studio 5 Partnership and Besta.