From left: Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos; John Fleming, the U.S. Commerce Department’s assistant secretary for economic development; Wendy Neu, chairman and CEO of Hugo Neu Corp.; and Mike Meyer, Hugo Neu’s director of development, were on hand to announce a $3 million federal grant for the town of Kearny to rebuild a stretch of Hackensack Avenue leading into the Kearny Point complex. — Courtesy: Hugo Neu Corp.
By Joshua Burd
The main access road into the sprawling, distinctive Kearny Point development is slated to become significantly greener and more welcoming to pedestrians and cyclists, thanks to a new $3 million federal grant that was awarded to its host municipality.
Hugo Neu Corp., the firm behind the 4 million-square-foot adaptive reuse project, joined public officials last week in announcing the grant from the U.S. Commerce Department. The town of Kearny will use the funding to redevelop Hackensack Avenue, which serves as the primary entranceway to the waterfront former ship-making complex.
That work will entail updates to mitigate against future storm-related flooding, according to a news release, along with green infrastructure improvements such as the installation of permeable materials and native-plant bioswales. Plans also call for what’s known as smart sponge technology to assist with high-performance stormwater management and treatment of runoff.
The project will rebuild the roadway’s underground water distribution system, stormwater system, gas distribution system piping, underground sanitary sewer conveyance system and much of the overhead electric services along with electric, telephone and cable conduits.
“Today we celebrate an incredible milestone, not only for Kearny Point but for the long-term economic development goals of Kearny,” said Wendy Neu, chairman and CEO of Hugo Neu Corp. “We would not be here today without the hard work of the many stakeholders that understand that in addressing the infrastructural needs to support growing businesses at Kearny Point, we can take critical and meaningful steps to protect and enhance our natural environment.”
Stakeholders unveiled the plans Thursday during an event at the South Kearny property — at the confluence of the Hackensack and Passaic rivers — where Hugo Neu is in the midst of its $1 billion redevelopment. The reconstruction of Hackensack Avenue will directly support the project, bringing enhanced pedestrian paths, safe bike lanes and modern traffic calming and safety devices.
The street is currently a two-lane road with access to several properties, offering only limited pedestrian and bicycle traffic features, the news release said. Once the improvements are integrated, the widened roadway will accommodate all travelers — including motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians — and will be positioned to reduce flooding and limit nonpoint source pollution of the Hudson-Raritan watershed.
“Kearny Point is the type of true public/private partnership that the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Economic Development Administration is eager to invest in,” said John Fleming, the Commerce Department’s assistant secretary for economic development. “Coupled with this EDA grant, the added investment incentive provided by the Opportunity Zone program will help to attract new business to Kearny Point, generating economic opportunity throughout the region.”
Since the first phase of the redevelopment, which included the renovation of a historic industrial property known as Building 78, Kearny Point has attracted more than 250 businesses to the reimagined campus. The new roadway will provide better access to those operators and to nearby properties on the southern portion of the peninsula, including The Hudson County Emergency Services at the USS Juneau Memorial Center and the Hudson County Correctional Center.
The street will be reconstructed to include a 32-foot road, a 12-foot sidewalk along the west side of the right-of-way and a 28-foot promenade along the east side, the news release said. Portions of the redesigned streetscape will also feature seating pockets for pedestrian gatherings, a promenade with a protected bike path and lush, native green planting beds.
“Reconstruction of Hackensack Avenue will promote our goals of supporting the growth of businesses along this busy corridor while at the same time enhancing safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists as well as motorists,” Kearny Mayor Alberto Santos said. “It will also promote our town’s stormwater management plan to expand pervious surfaces in order to reduce stormwater entering our strained sewer system.”