New Jersey Economic Development Authority President Tim Lizura, Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly, Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise, Mayor Alberto Santos, Hugo Neu CFO Steve Nislick and Hugo Neu Development Director Mike Meyer take part in a ceremonial groundbreaking. — Courtesy: Hugo Neu
By Joshua Burd
Developer Hugo Neu has kicked off the next piece of its plan to revitalize a former shipbuilding yard in Kearny, starting on the development of a 200,000-square-foot light industrial building.
Known as Building 197, the property will be marketed toward small-scale manufacturers, food processors and other creative businesses with storage requirements. It is the second major project under the master-planned, mixed-use redevelopment of the 130-acre complex, which sits on the Hackensack River about five miles from the Holland Tunnel.
The project follows the success of what is known as Building 78, a 207,000-square-foot building that Hugo Neu rehabilitated and is now home to more than 100 small businesses and a co-working facility. Building 197 will feature 36-foot ceiling heights, 700-pound floor loads and five loading docks per module.
The firm celebrated the progress on Tuesday by inviting public officials to the project site.
“We’re thrilled to watch the Kearny Point redevelopment continue to take shape,” Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos said. “Building 197 will add an in-demand industrial asset to this evolving business hub, and, more importantly, will bring hundreds of new jobs back to South Kearny.”
Kearny Point, which was once home to a massive shipbuilding operation with 30,000 employees during the first and second World Wars, now has tenants ranging from craft-food artisans to filmmakers. Building 78 is also home to a 2,500-square-foot restaurant and café, a 5,000-square-foot roof deck and lounge and a 3,000-square-foot indoor event space.
Hugo Neu, which has its roots in the recycling business, will begin its work later this year at a former craneway complex adjacent to Building 197, known as Building 100, which will be redeveloped into a technologically advanced creative office environment geared toward larger office users.
In the meantime, the firm is touting Building 197 as a state-of-the-art facility with a convenient location. Along with its proximity to Manhattan, Kearny Point offers quick access to Port Newark-Elizabeth and Newark Liberty International Airport, along with the New Jersey Turnpike and routes 1, 9, 7 and 440.
“There’s a common perception that industrial facilities exist solely in desolate, isolated settings,” said Steve Nislick, chief financial officer at Hugo Neu. “Building 197 is not your typical manufacturing and storage facility. It’s not every day that you find a new, state-of-the-art light industrial building amidst such a diverse and growing community of innovative companies, surrounded by new green space and a restored waterfront.”
Kearny Point’s master plan, conceived in partnership with STUDIOS Architecture and WXY architecture + design, also features more than 25 acres of new open and civic space, including restored native habitat, a continuous waterfront promenade and a living shoreline, according to a news release. The plan also calls for high efficiency building systems, solar and wind energy, and a multimodal “complete streets” strategy.
Also on hand Tuesday were Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise and Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly.
“Today’s groundbreaking signifies another major milestone in regenerating what was once one of the great economic drivers in Hudson County,” DeGise said. “What’s happening in South Kearny is already beginning to reverberate throughout the region, as we’re attracting more businesses, residents, and visitors back to this historic site.”