The Perth Amboy Redevelopment Agency has approved a redeveloper agreement with Viridian Partners that allows the development of a new 471,000-square-foot warehouse, open space and new development sites on the city’s waterfront Gateway parcel. — Courtesy: PARA
By Joshua Burd
A large piece of Perth Amboy’s waterfront is slated to become more than 470,000 square feet of modern warehouse space, recreation space and pad-ready development sites near the city’s downtown, under a plan to clean up and revitalize the long-vacant industrial parcel.
The Perth Amboy Redevelopment Agency on Monday announced that it has signed an agreement with Viridian Partners, a Denver-based developer, in connection with the 44-acre site bounded by the Route 35 Victory Bridge, Smith Street and Riverside Drive. The pact calls for the firm to remediate and redevelop the former manufacturing property at a cost of more than $110 million, helping to activate what’s long been known as the Gateway parcel.
City officials say about 25 acres will be earmarked for a new 471,000-square-foot warehouse accessible to trucks from Riverview Drive, according to a news release. Additionally, more than nine acres abutting the Smith Street business corridor will be remediated and made pad-ready for the city at no cost, while Viridian will clean up and improve another nine acres for Perth Amboy residents’ passive recreation, including natural areas surrounding Sonnaman’s Creek, with trails leading to a gazebo on a hill to be constructed overlooking the Raritan River.
The redeveloper’s agreement calls for Viridian to break ground no later than spring 2025.
“We’re eager to take advantage of the commercial possibilities of this large swath of developable property and maximize its ideal proximity to Route 440 and other major highways,” Perth Amboy Mayor Helmin J. Caba said. “Working closely with PARA and the developer, we are moving forward with a three-pronged strategy. The developer is paying to remediate the land, create a public park and turn nine acres of valuable land into buildable property as part of our overall downtown redevelopment initiatives.”
Viridian is no stranger to Perth Amboy, having redeveloped the site that would become the three-building, 1.3 million-square-foot ePort Logistics Center 1 nearby. City officials also cited its work in Cranbury, where it redeveloped a 400-acre former munitions plant into a campus that’s now home to Amazon and Wayfair, adding that nearly half of the site is maintained as clean conservation areas.
With the Gateway parcel, it’s tasked with cleaning up the former site of a roofing company that manufactured asbestos shingles before closing around 23 years ago, according to a news release. Viridian Partners has been working with the city since 2014 to create the plan, which requires it to assemble 28 parcels to comply with the redeveloper’s agreement.
Its next step is to submit a site plan to the city’s planning board for review and secure approvals from Middlesex County and the state Department of Environmental Protection.
“What excites us about the Gateway project is its phenomenal proximity to highways. It is a perfect fit for our model of remediating complex properties,” said Michael Cahn, a principal with Viridian Partners, noting there is also a landfill on the site the firm will address. “We are eager to move forward with Mayor Caba and PARA, breathing new life into the entire neighborhood and directly addressing a blighted eyesore awaiting redevelopment for decades.”
PARA noted Monday that trucks accessing the new warehouse must use Riverview Drive via its intersection at Smith Street to minimize traffic in business and residential areas. In addition, Viridian will use berms, buffer landscaping and other natural screens wll to minimize the impacts of the warehouse development.
Cahn anticipates it will take one year to remediate the property, addressing all geotechnical issues, and a second year for vertical construction of the new warehouse and nine-acre open space area, the news release said. The project, once completed, is expected to generate more than 400 long-term jobs and $1 million in local tax revenue.
“The city has been discussing the possibilities at Gateway for years. Now is the time for action,” said Tashia Vazquez, PARA’s executive director. “We have terrific, visionary partners working with Mayor Caba and Viridian Partners. We all have the same aggressive objectives for this major parcel: To create a lasting redevelopment project that offers many direct benefits to Perth Amboy residents. Working together, we are making it happen.”