Anyone who has traveled in or through New Jersey heading “down the shore” from the north almost certainly has traversed the Driscoll Bridge in Sayreville and no doubt has been witness to the 418 acres of brownfield that sits on its southern end.
The environmental remediation site is the former National Lead Industries property, previously being marketed as “The Pointe” by O’Neill Properties Group out of Philadelphia. O’Neill had obtained initial approvals from state and local authorities in 2014, including financial support from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) through the Economic Redevelopment and Growth Program. Based on a lack of progress toward development of the enclosed regional mall that was the centerpiece of The Pointe, in 2017 North American Properties was engaged by the designated redeveloper, Sayreville Seaport Associates, to create an updated master plan and position the property for a development start. North American Properties hired Cooper Robertson Partner John Kirk, one of the country’s leading urban designers (and a Maplewood resident), to lead the master planning efforts for Riverton.
North American Properties, a multi-regional real estate development company, took over development of the location hoping to turn it into the largest mixed-use project in the state. NAP announced plans to build a mixed-use, village-style development dubbed “Riverton.”
Together, Cooper Robertson and North American Properties worked to create the Riverton vision and craft a master plan, a new waterfront development along two miles of shoreline in Middlesex County along the Raritan River, and less than 20 miles away from Manhattan.
North American Properties says the future development project should be thought of as “America’s next great hometown.” It will be a metropolis-meets-mega-town square with spectacular river views, and is expected to bring more housing, retail and entertainment space, along with hotels, offices and other commercial uses, to a Middlesex County town that hasn’t experienced a revitalization.
The $2.5 billion mixed-use development is expected to create a fully walkable city layout with over 2 million square feet of retail and an infusion of restaurants, 2,000 residential units, Class-A office space, hotels, parks, and a 200-slip marina. Additionally, planned civic services include a fire station, performing arts spaces and a public walkway along the entire riverfront. It will become a place to experience the best of New Jersey. Where land meets water; where small-town quaint meets shore-town casual.
The Riverton peninsula has ready access to and from major vehicular arteries like the Garden State Parkway, U.S. Route 9, and State Route 35, with more than 372,500 vehicles per day travelling past the site. Riverton is positioned to be a beating heart of the area. Mark Toro, NAP’s managing partner, called it an access nirvana with the three major highways all feeding into the pipeline of the site. Additionally, public transportation hubs are within a short drive that connects the community to New York and Philadelphia as well as Boston and Washington, D.C. A ferry terminal in South Amboy is also on the way, just a few miles east of Riverton, which will provide boat service to Lower Manhattan and the Financial District.
Once completed, Riverton will be the largest mixed-use development in New Jersey’s history.
The contaminated National Lead Industries property sat dormant for decades. Redeveloper Sayreville Seaport Associates spent years remediating the land, starting in 2009. And NAP says the ground has been moving on the site and the first of the retail stores should be a reality within the next two years. Many approvals are still required from state and local agencies, but the first phases of construction are scheduled to begin in spring 2020, with Bass Pro Shop being one of the first planned openings in 2021.
Toro, a New Jersey native and Rutgers University graduate who is now based in Atlanta, said: “We create great, walkable places that connect people to each other; cities to their souls … and individuals to experiences that move them.” Toro said the area is going to be a dwelling place with plenty of experiences for people to come and stay, be entertained and have fun.
The existing bulkhead, which was used for industrial barge deliveries, is to become the place where Riverton’s guests can connect most directly to the river, and an important public gathering spot in the mixed-use village, which is scheduled to open in 2022, with a combination of 460 luxury apartments and 81,000 square feet of creative and collaborative office space over retail and restaurants. A full-service hotel and conference center, Class-A office tower and waterfront townhomes will soon follow.
Riverton will be designed for a variety of age groups and will offer housing at a variety of price points. The rental rates will be competitive with the newest highly amenitized apartment homes in desirable locations in Middlesex and Monmouth counties.
Riverton is poised to provide an opportunity to serve the New York/New Jersey market, which is home to 16 million people, providing the next generation of commercial real estate, which is “experiential mixed-use.” The size and scale of Riverton enables NAP the “freedom to curate and deploy a full array of uses that will serve to energize the property 18 hours a day,” Toro remarked in a recent interview.
What does this mean for Sayreville?
Riverton will energize the area economically by bringing in new retail, restaurant, office and hotel options. It should generate thousands of local jobs including construction jobs as the project is built, as well as retail and service positions once businesses open. It will also reinforce Sayreville as a destination by creating a new downtown for the way people live, work and play today.
The team at NAP apparently knows how to create dynamic mixed-use environments that become the community’s “third place” — an area to gather outside of home and work that fosters human connection and plays host to meaningful experiences in real life.
NAP has proven in many of its other projects that it can capture and hold the human energy its environments create. The firm’s professionals combine the right mix of uses, layer in community gathering spaces, deliver resort-level hospitality and activate the public realm with events to create even more energy and driving value for all components.
For Sayreville and the rest of New Jersey, Riverton will not disappoint.v