Hartz Mountain Industries’ proposal for the former Hercules Inc. munitions plant property in Roxbury includes a five-building, 2.5 million-square-foot industrial campus and some 500 acres of open space. — Courtesy: Hartz Mountain
By Joshua Burd
Hartz Mountain Industries has unveiled its proposal to redevelop a massive former manufacturing site in Morris County, including plans for a five-building, 2.5 million-square-foot industrial campus and hundreds of acres of open space.
The Secaucus-based firm on Wednesday detailed its recent application to the Roxbury planning board, noting that the new warehouses would occupy only a quarter of the 820-acre site. Its pitch for the property — the long-dormant, former site of the Hercules Inc. munitions plant along Interstate 80 — also calls for some 500 acres to be preserved as parks, athletic fields and undeveloped land, while another 13 acres would be used to satisfy the township’s affordable housing obligations.
“Hartz is proud to put this proposal forward,” said James Rhatican, the firm’s vice president of land use and assistant general counsel. “It’s a unique opportunity to redevelop a former manufacturing site, bring significant new economic benefit to the area, add new open spaces for public use and have very little negative community impact.”
Local officials in Roxbury could not immediately be reached Wednesday, but Rhatican said the project would create more than 1,100 jobs during the construction phase and 1,200 permanent jobs during operation, citing a study by its professional team. Additionally, the redevelopment would generate more than $4 million in new property tax revenue each year, he said, most of which would benefit Roxbury public schools.
Hartz’s plan calls for five speculative commercial buildings that are 45-feet high but not visible from surrounding roads due to the site’s topography. The design would allow all vehicles to access the property via Howard Boulevard, the developer said, but trucks would only be able to exit by right turns onto the northbound lanes toward Interstate 80, aiming to minimize the impact on local roadways.
The firm added that the plan complies with guidelines recently published by the State Planning Commission for warehouse development. Meantime, the 500 acres of open space will be made available to the public in the form of trails, parks and athletic fields, with large portions of the property left undeveloped.
The specific uses include:
- 250 acres dedicated to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection for permanent preservation
- 75 acres across Berkshire Valley Road to potentially include a full-size football, soccer and baseball field
- Several acres along Route 46 for up to three soccer fields
“Part of our mission is to collect community feedback on how best to design these open spaces, parks and fields to provide a product that is useful to the residents. We look forward to that dialogue,” Rhatican said. “In fact, Hartz’s design of the project already integrates elements intended to address community concerns such as traffic and noise.”
Developers and local officials have long sought to redevelop the property, where dynamite and other explosives were manufactured as far back as the 1870s, leaving decades of contamination. Hercules, its then-owner, closed the site in 1996 and spent several years demolishing more than 325 buildings and more than 1 million square feet of foundations.
Hartz submitted its application to the Roxbury planning board on Aug. 18, the firm said, noting that it will eventually be heard by the panel at a public hearing. Members of the public will have the opportunity to comment on the proposal, while the developer has launched a website to allow stakeholders to review the full application, examine the proposed renderings and site plans and explore the community benefits.