Gerard Russomano, project superintendent for the 46-unit Taglarini Plaza on Avenue E and East 45th Street, climbed the first flight of concrete stairs, and when these ran out, he climbed up one ladder, then another. All these steps are leading to the upper floors of what he and others hope will become a model building for the Avenue E gateway section to the city.
At one time, Bayonne residents might have needed a vivid imagination to envision what this building would look like and how it would fit into the landscape that includes the nearby 45th Street station to the Hudson Bergen Light Rail, but they no longer do.
In early December, the crew from Del-Sano general contractors, laid the last truss to the building, virtually completing the framework.
The 46-unit facility is being overseen by Regan Development, the company that has been involved in several other projects in Bayonne, including the conversion of the former Maidenform building – a historic landmark – into senior housing.
The company also was responsible for renovations to the former Y.M.C.A. on East 22nd Street.
“The whole project has used 100 percent union labor,” Russomano said.
It includes 12 units for special needs residents. Six units will be set aside for residents whose family includes someone suffering from multiple sclerosis. These units will be rented with the assistance of UCP of Hudson County, a group Regan’s company has partnered with before. The building would also have a small retail store and first floor off-street parking with one spot for each of the rental units and six for homeless veterans.
Construction started in March, and despite the usual delays for weather, including Hurricane Sandy, the firm has kept on schedule, not only with construction, but also with cleaning up the soil contamination resulting from prior use of the property.
“We take pride in our work,” he said. “We want this to be a model for future development along Avenue E.”
“The whole project has used 100 percent union labor.” – Gerard Russomano
This property is part of the city’s scattered site redevelopment, and a site that was previously approved by the Planning Board in 2008 for a similar project that would have constructed luxury condominiums there.
The site is one of the series of properties along Avenue E near the New Jersey Turnpike exit that the city is seeking to have upgraded. Two properties adjacent to this site are part of a proposed park expansion.
Because of its location near the lightrail station, John Fusa, the city planner, said it is ideal for transit oriented development, which would provide affordable rentals to people who work nearby.
The lot currently generates about $20,000 in overall taxes that include city, county, and school taxes. Under the PILOT (Payment In Lieu Of Taxes) agreement, the affordable housing portion of the site would receive $23,000 the first year. The store portion would not be abated and would generate $5,000 to $7,000 in taxes to the city.
With access to Avenue E and Route 440 as well as the light rail station, the new development may mark the beginning of a string of development along a stretch that the city considers in need of redevelopment, part of a scattered site redevelopment plan passed by the City Council in 2006.
Russomano said the building will soon be sealed with much of the work being done on the interior, including electrical, plumbing and wallboard.
“This will allow us to remove the barriers outside and return the street to its regular traffic pattern,” he said, although the contractor made a conscious effort not to impact traffic during the exterior work, diverting lanes rather than closing off the street.
“We had a good working relationship with the city and the police department,” he said.
Walking through corridors of what will become an affordable housing complex, he points to this apartment and that, each with its own attributes, some larger than others, but all with views of the city or, along the east side of the building, views of New York Harbor.
Each apartment has a balcony of some sort, some with larger exterior spaces the others, and the corner apartments with their wide windows give a grand glimpse of the New York skyline or even of the curve of the Bayonne Bridge.
With 50 to 75 people working at any given time, the project has moved ahead with the hopes of allowing the first residents to move in by next July.
“We’re 75 percent complete,” Russomano said.