City officials announced on April 9 that a Florida developer of health care facilities was interested in reshaping the west side of Broadway between West 23rd and 24th streets with a medical center and possibly much more.
The Rendina Companies of Jupiter, Fla., was named as the area’s “designated redeveloper” of that block by the City Council, according to a statement issued by the administration of Mayor Mark Smith. The night before, on April 8, the Bayonne Planning Board approved the redevelopment plan.
Most of the storefronts on the block are vacant, including those damaged by fire. Two retail shops, longtime businesses Barney Stock and Avenue, still call the street home.
Rendina hopes to build a three-story medical facility that would employ as many as 200 people.
It is a full-service developer with a team specializing in all facets of healthcare real estate. Its record of successfully completed projects across the United States includes a wide variety of facilities, including on-campus medical office buildings, outpatient facilities, imaging centers, ambulatory surgery facilities, cancer treatment centers, and modern intensive and critical care units.
Business Administrator Stephen Gallo said the Bayonne facility would have a ripple effect on nearby businesses, with employees and patients projected to frequent area eateries and other stores.
Under the mayor’s direction, the city began the process of declaring this section of Broadway as an area in need of redevelopment at the beginning of the year. Fire had damaged several buildings in the vicinity, and other stores had been left vacant for many years.
“It will include professional office space, medical facilities, commercial and retail facilities, and much more.”– Mayor Mark Smith
“We are excited about their concept,” Smith said. “It will include professional office space, medical facilities, commercial and retail facilities, and much more. This exciting new project will create hundreds of new permanent jobs for Bayonne residents and will put people on the street in our central business district. New employees, plus clients of the professionals in the facilities, will be on Broadway every day breathing new life and creating new opportunities for area businesses.”
“This is a wonderful opportunity for our community to revitalize our shopping district,” the mayor said. “Our plan was to revolutionize one block on Broadway, and the Rendina Companies’ plans will certainly do just that. The successful execution of this project will stimulate the entire avenue.”
Barney Stock, a brassiere and lingerie shop and Bayonne business for more than 90 years, including decades on Broadway, greeted the announcement with reserved optimism. While owner Mel Stock sees the redevelopment as a positive step for the area, he is hopeful all can be accomplished without disturbing Stock’s storefront, 12 second-floor tenants, and customers.
Stock said he attended a city-run meeting, where he first heard of the development effort.
“They said to me, ‘We’re not going to push you out,”’ Stock said. “They said, ‘we can work around [your store] with you on this.’ That was a nice thing for them to say to me.”
Stock is hopeful that if the project proceeds, the redevelopment can begin where his corner lot ends.
“I’d like them to start right after our building, for the rest of the block,” he said.
Stock and members of his staff said that last week’s announcement, as well as word that had been circulating around town, had many of the store’s longtime customers worried about a possible closing.
“They will be upset if Barney Stock ever has to go,” said Lois Pietruska, a Barney Stock employee for 40 years. “More than two dozen so far have mentioned it. I said, ‘No, we’re not going.’”
Several calls were made and emails sent to Avenue, the other retail store still on the block, but no statement from them was received by press time.
Smith said the final project plan is being completed with Rendina and will include provisions for adequate parking, including a possible parking deck on Del Monte Drive behind the site.
Council President Terry Ruane agreed with the mayor’s decision to declare this section of Broadway as an area in need of redevelopment and believes the project will be a boon for the area.
“We are excited and gratified that a highly qualified and successful developer is sharing our vision for a new direction for Broadway,” Ruane said. “Foot traffic is the foundation of any successful shopping district, and that’s exactly what this proposal delivers.”
Rendina is assembling the parcels of land needed for the project. The city has authorized the implementation of condemnation if necessary. Rendina is also finalizing agreements with the lead tenants for the project.
Once the project is under way, Mayor Smith has not ruled out designating other areas of Broadway for redevelopment, officials said.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.