“Major developers’ interest in Bayonne will begin to bear fruit,” Smith said last week, as the city braced for the first major snowstorm of the winter. “Projects that will change the face of Bayonne—that were in the planning stages in 2013—begin construction this year.”
According to Smith, the Maidenform Silklofts project will begin recruiting tenants during the first quarter; Skyhail Development will proceed with new residential buildings on the north and south sides of East 22nd Street on Avenue E, by the light rail station; and the John Cali project across from the Stephen R. Gregg Park at West 46th Street is already under construction.
The Kaplan Organization’s Camelot Project on the Boulevard at West 3rd Street is also ready to begin receiving tenants, according to the mayor.
“Many other major projects are in the pipeline right behind these,” Smith said. “Each of these new apartment buildings will add tax ratables and new residents to our community, enhancing vibrancy and diversity, and creating a critical mass of people who will demand retail and commercial services, providing opportunities for small businesses in town.”
Other projects are expected to be approved.
Development will restart at the Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor, while construction at the Harbor Station North District will begin in the spring.
“Under Mayor Smith’s leadership in resolving outstanding litigation, qualified developers will move forward with the development of more than 500 residential units and supporting community retail at the Peninsula nearest the 45th Street light rail station,” said Stephen Gallo, city business administrator. “This will begin the process of filling in the empty spaces at The Peninsula.”
Plans for Harbor Station South will move forward as well, according to city officials. Following a seminar held in the fall, developers are expected to respond to the city with “high-level” concepts representing what they would like to build there.
“The mayor and city council will select the best proposals and negotiate with the qualified developers to select a project, or projects, for the district,” Gallo said.
Another development goal is a new hotel on the city’s eastern edge, close to both to the port and New York City.
“Two qualified developers have already expressed interest in building a hotel in Bayonne to serve the burgeoning cruise port, as well as the local market, and people looking for easy access to Manhattan,” Smith said. “More are sure to follow this year.”
More retail likely for Route 440
The city is currently working with companies to develop the southernmost portion of the Bayonne Crossings Shopping Center, where a recycling facility now stands, into retail shops. Officials are also working to develop vacant and underutilized land on the west side of the highway, between 22nd and 30th streets, into stores and other commercial facilities.
Broadway will not be forgotten
Amid all these development plans, Broadway, Bayonne’s focal point for shopping for decades, will not be forgotten, the administration pledges.
“Mayor Smith has approved the commissioning of a redevelopment study for an underutilized portion of Broadway, with the expectation that a developer be identified for the redevelopment of an entire city block,” Gallo said, referring to 23rd to 24th streets on the avenue. “Long-vacant parcels may also find themselves the target of redevelopment efforts this year.”
“New residents in developments on Avenue E will look for quality on Broadway, and the business community will adapt to respond to demand,” Smith said.
Other municipal benefits
The mayor touted other initiatives that he said will benefit the city, from lowered utility costs, to an upgraded park, to a focus on the arts.
Taking advantage of a state law that allows municipalities to harness the combined purchasing power of its residents, Bayonne has worked to provide participants with a 10-percent discount off their current electric rates.
“The transition occurring over the next few weeks will be seamless,” Smith said. “Residents who want to participate don’t have to do anything.”
Similar savings for natural gas will follow in the spring, according to the mayor.
Utilizing grant funds and insurance proceeds from Hurricane Sandy, the city will make a major upgrade to Don Ahern Veterans Memorial Stadium by installing Field Turf in place of grass throughout the entire facility, according to Gallo. Improved lighting for safety, new restrooms, and a new press box near the baseball field will be among the additional alterations.
“The facility will be resilient in the face of storms and will include a measured walking track around the perimeter,” Gallo said.
Building upon his decision to make the Bayonne Community Museum available for music and art events, Smith has instructed staff to focus on expanding the depth and breadth of cultural offerings in the city, including more concerts, arts shows and festivals, and public art and murals.
“Look for more outlets for creative residents in 2014,” he said.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.