At full capacity, the property along the waterfront can house as many as 10,000 people in 4,100 units.
But what will that mean for the already densely populated town? According to West New York Mayor Albio Sires, it could mean more affordable housing, renovations to town parks and a stable tax rate, for starters.
The West New York waterfront includes the Landings and Riverbend communities at Port Imperial owned by Roseland Properties and Jacob's Ferry and Harbor Place townhouse communities owned by K. Hovnanian of Red Bank.
Affecting the community
When Roseland Properties purchased the waterfront property two years ago, the town and the new developers created a redevelopment plan for the community which also included some special favors for the rest of the municipality.
"The people who own property on the waterfront have to provide services for the rest of the town," said Sires.
According to Sires, before Roseland Properties was even able to begin building on the property, they agreed to build a recreational facility for the town's soccer program, Centennial Field on River Road, that included 60 parking spaces.
When Roseland sold a piece of that property to K. Hovnanian of Red Bank, K. Hovnanian was then responsible for adding a sprinkler system to the soccer field and exterior fencing. Hovnanian was also responsible for installing a drainage system on the field to correct for the water flowing through the rocks of the cliffs behind the field.
As part of their contract, Roseland Properties also had to donate $4,000 per unit built on the waterfront toward the town's affordable housing trust fund.
A total of $1.7 million of the money given to the affordable housing trust fund from the waterfront developers went to the multi-site affordable housing project being built in West New York now. This project will bring more than 140 affordable housing units into the town.
"That money was very key to finishing the project," said Sires. "With that [money], the town did not have to contribute from the municipal budget."
Also as part of their contract, Roseland Properties has to donate $250,000 worth of special projects every other year for the town.
Their first project, completed about one year ago, was to renovate the town's little league field on 54th Street and Broadway. The renovations included a new indoor practice facility, exterior fencing and new outdoor lighting.
Their next project, which is already underway, will create a passive park area on the corner of 60th Street and Kennedy Boulevard, part of Donnelly Park. This renovation will include new park benches, a garden and fountain area.
All of these improvements have also helped to raise West New York's property values, said Sires.
"Some of the properties sold on the waterfront are among the highest property values sold in West New York's history," said Sires. "Little by little, this has been impacting the rest of West New York."
While Sires boasts of a steady tax rate in West New York for the past seven years, he admitted that this might not have been possible if not for the construction on the waterfront.
"The taxes we received from the waterfront community have been a great source of stability for us," said Sires, adding that the town collected about $4 million in taxes from the waterfront community last year.
According to Sires, the municipal budget increases by $1 million each year just with union contracts, salary increases and health insurance rates each year.
"In essence, the waterfront has been responsible for stabilizing the tax rate in West New York," said Sires. "Between the waterfront and our frugal approach to the municipal budget, we have resulted in a stable budget for the past seven years."
Fifteen hundred more people on the waterfront means 1,500 more potential shoppers for the town's three major business districts, Bergenline Avenue, Park Avenue and Broadway.
"Many people were afraid that people on the waterfront would not shop in West New York," said Urban Enterprise Zone Coordinator Oscar Miqueli. "But they are coming up."
Sires said that until there is a commercial strip down on the waterfront, the residents would have to rely on the rest of the town.
"There is still no post office or restaurants down on the waterfront," said Sires. "They have to rely on the rest of the town."
Eventually, the redevelopment plan calls for a commercial strip on the waterfront, but Sires said that this strip would not hurt the business districts already in town.
Until then, Miqueli said that the town had made a directory for the residents of the waterfront community, listing all of the businesses and restaurants in the town.
"We are seeing a good reaction from the people on the waterfront," said Miqueli, who added that the commercial strip planned for the waterfront would mostly include convenience-type stores.
About the only part of West New York not being affected by the waterfront community is the public school system.
According to Superintendent of Schools Anthony Yankovich, only five or six students live in the waterfront communities, and only one of those students is attending Memorial High School.
Sires said that most of the people living in the waterfront community are single; there are only a few families. However, he thinks that many of the children are either going to private schools or into New York City for education.
"Most of the people living there are from [New York City]," said Sires. "It is easier for them to drop their children off at school in New York and pick them up after work."