Having spent nearly three decades building industrial space in New Jersey, Jeff Milanaik knows the challenge of finding development sites in the right markets — namely, markets that are just a quick trip from the state’s port region.
But that’s exactly what he will have in Perth Amboy, thanks to a major redevelopment project that is about to take a key step forward.
Milanaik, a principal of Bridge Development Partners LLC, has teamed with St. Louis-based Commercial Development Co. Inc. to transform a 70-acre site in the city. On Wednesday, the group is slated to join city officials to kick off demolition of 13 structures at 1160 State St., making way for a new waterfront industrial complex just minutes from the New Jersey Turnpike.
The work calls for remediating and revitalizing a site once home to the American Smelting and Refining Co., or ASARCO, which left behind a host of contamination when it closed its doors in 1978. Those hazards have prevented redevelopment of the site in recent decades, but Commercial Development is now preparing to complete the cleanup after acquiring the parcel in a 2009 bankruptcy sale.
That will leave Bridge Development Partners with a shovel-ready site for a two-building, 1 million-square-foot industrial complex, with access that’s as good as in other nearby towns, such as Edison and Woodbridge.
“The reason Perth Amboy hasn’t been there, is there hasn’t been available property,” said Milanaik, who joined Bridge Development Partners last summer after 26 years with Heller Industrial Parks. “And it takes this kind of effort to redevelop sites and create this kind of property.”
And it’s just one piece of the firm’s plan for Perth Amboy. Bridge Development Partners is also working with Viridian Partners to redevelop an adjacent site, one that also requires remediation to make way for a planned 1.3 million-square-foot warehouse and distribution complex known as ePort Logistics Center.
The roughly $125 million project is now in its due diligence phase, Milanaik said, and he hopes to start construction this summer on a 380,000-square-foot building that will be the first of three on the 104-acre site. That piece could be delivered next year, and plans also call for buildings of 755,000 square feet and 200,000 square feet.
That effectively gives Bridge Development Partners a two-phase, 175-acre industrial project in Perth Amboy, he said. There’s no shortage of challenges on either site, but Milanaik said the firm was fortunate to partner with groups such as Viridian and Commercial Development that are willing to take on major environmental cleanups.
“They are ground-down developers (and) we’re ground-up developers, so it’s a perfect marriage,” he said. “They do what they do, we do what we do and it works out really well.”
With Enterprise Network Resolution Contracting overseeing the demolition and remediation, Commercial Development will spend the next several months preparing the ASARCO site for development. That includes razing 253,270 square feet worth of structures, according to a news release.
“Commercial Development Company is excited to continue redevelopment of this Brownfield site,” Steve Collins, the firm’s executive vice president, said in a prepared statement. “There will be significant benefits to Perth Amboy from economic, social and environmental perspectives. Completion of the demolition phase of redevelopment brings us another step closer to converting this Brownfield site into a community asset.”
For Perth Amboy, it’s another step in the effort to transform a piece of its waterfront that was left blighted and contaminated by companies of decades past.
“For several decades, outer State Street has been plagued with hundreds of acres of environmentally challenged sites, but today is a new day in Perth Amboy,” Mayor Wilda Diaz said in the news release. “The creation of local job opportunities and the realization of new ratables are the primary goals of establishing a sustainable project that will carry Perth Amboy into a successful future.”
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