Royal Wine to expand in Bayonne
City Council nixes chickens, but buys farm
by Al Sullivan
Reporter staff writer
Sep 26, 2012 | 5757 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A NEW LOOK – Long an eyesore, this former chemical site is to be transformed into the national headquarters for Royal Wine.
A NEW LOOK – Long an eyesore, this former chemical site is to be transformed into the national headquarters for Royal Wine.
CONSTRUCTION -- The new Royal Wine facility should be complete by September 2013.
CONSTRUCTION -- The new Royal Wine facility should be complete by September 2013.

In August, Kevin and Kim Hennings asked the Bayonne City Council to consider changing the city’s health ordinance to allow residents to raise a few chickens, the way some other municipalities had in the state.

“We want them for fresh eggs and maybe as pets,” they said.

The Henningses returned to the City Council on Sept. 19 to repeat their request. The couple had raised chickens when living outside of Bayonne and knew that several other urban municipalities, including Jersey City, had considered allowing residents to raise chickens, as long as there are no roosters to raise a racket at dawn.

But Council President Terrence Ruane, after reviewing the matter and consulting with various city directors, told the couple he would not approve the change.

“I don’t think it’s right for Bayonne at this time,” he told them.

Yet, at the same time, the city approved an agreement for a large farm-type operation on commercial land.

The City Council voted recently to approve a tax abatement for the proposed new U.S. headquarters and production plant for Royal Wine, which will include a 100,000 square foot hydroponic greenhouse with an expected output of eatable food stuff on the equivalent of a 20-acre farm.

The project will not only retain the 140 to 150 jobs that Royal Wine currently provides with its Bayonne operations, but would add from 75 to 150 more jobs, and allow the company to consolidate its operations in Bayonne and close its current facility in Brooklyn.

The $32 million redevelopment project is located at East 22nd Street and Avenue J and 100 Hook Road. It will include a 247,000 square foot building, 230,000 square feet of which will be for warehouse space and associated uses with loading docks; 47,000 square feet of office space; and 270 parking spaces outside.

The 30-year payment in lieu of taxes will net the city about $16 million in total taxes as opposed to the $6 million over that same period if left vacant.

“This is a significant commitment by a significant company to stay in Hudson County.” – Eric Alderman
Chemical cleanup

The project is being developed by a group called Cameron Royal Development LLC, the company that recently built Bayonne Crossing Mall, which borders the new 14-acre development site.

At the August meeting of the Bayonne Planning Board, Eric Alderman of Cameron called the 14-acre site proposed for the Royal Wine building the most contaminated site in Hudson County. It was a site that previously operated a chemical manufacturing plant. A site prior to that served a repository for Exxon Mobil, a firm partly responsible for remediation.

“Because of the excellent relationship we have with Exxon Mobil as a result of our development the shopping mall property, we were in a unique position to cooperate with Exxon on this property,” Alderman said.

The main component of contamination is chromium, but it also has crude oil contamination. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection approved the cleanup plan for the site in April, and Cameron, Exxon Mobil, and the former chemical company people already started to clean up the site.

“The schedule for the project is to have the building complete and occupied by September 2013,” Alderman said.

Royal Wine already has a facility in Bayonne on LeFante Way. New York State offered the company a significant package to relocate its operations to Brooklyn, Royal Wine – which is the largest manufacturer of Kosher products in the United States – decided to relocate its headquarters and expand its operations in Bayonne instead.

“This is a significant commitment by a significant company to stay in Hudson County,” Alderman said.

This will be a completely green building fully LEED certified, he added. “One of the things that will make this a national landmark is that on the roof of the building there will be a 100,000 square foot hydroponic greenhouse that will grow organic product that will be sold at market by Royal,” he said.

Unique building

Martin Cybol, the architect for the building, said, “It is unusual to have a warehouse building that looks like something other than a box.”

The building will have four stories, with the office and executive suite on the fourth floor with views of the Bayonne Golf Club and the Manhattan skyline beyond. Here, Cybol said, the company plans to hold various events including food and wine tastings.

The building will also house a distribution company that includes refrigerated and non-refrigerated foods. The site will also provide storage for packaging and other items currently stored at its LeFante Way facility. In addition, the site may also serve as a production center for eatable oils and mayonnaise.

Heat will be directed from some of the refrigerated units to the greenhouse on the roof, which will also use water recycled from elsewhere in the building.

“This will reduce the carbon footprint of the building,” Cybol said.

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