An industrial area that was once home to more than half a dozen large oil tanks will soon be the site of luxury apartments.
After years of borough Planning Board hearings, environmental cleanup and a lengthy permitting process, a large multifamily mixed-use development near the Hackensack River is moving forward and is slated to begin construction this spring.
“The project has a lot of drivers that we look for in a multifamily development today: the water views, the size of the site, the proximity to mass transit and highways,” said Jonathan Stein, the managing partner of the developer, PCD Capital. “There is an existing demand of tenants in the area that really sets the standard for what new construction looks to achieve.”
The project changed hands in December when RCB Urban Renewal was designated as the redeveloper of the former Hess Corp. tank farm on West Fort Lee Road and a neighboring parcel, taking over from the former redeveloper, River Development. PCD Capital closed on the property in January.
Stein declined to disclose the sale price. Public records of the sale were not immediately available.
The plans for the River Club development remain the same from when the borough Planning Board approved the project in 2016.
The 421-apartment, five-building complex will consist of four buildings that are four stories tall, and a fifth that will be five stories with space for retail on the ground floor.
A clubhouse, pool, dog park and walkway along the Hackensack River are also planned for the 13-acre site. About 10 percent of the units will be designated as affordable housing, with preference going to military veterans.
West Fort Lee Road routinely floods and can become impassible during severe rainstorms. The plans for the development include extensive drainage improvements, such as larger pipes and new outflows.
During hearings on the application, the former developer said warning signs and a vehicle-relocation plan for storms would be provided for certain parking areas in the flood plain.
Within the next month, Stein said, his company plans to demolish the existing buildings on the site. Then workers will begin putting in new utilities and drainage and bringing in soil to elevate the land. He hopes to begin construction of the buildings by July.
“It should take about three years to build,” Stein said. “We’ll probably build them consecutively, so we’ll finish one building and open it up for leasing, then as the first building is filled with tenants we’ll start to open the next one.”
When it is completed, the development could increase the borough’s population of roughly 8,200 people by about 10 percent.
Filling the retail space could prove to be more of a challenge than leasing the units, Stein said.
“I’m hopeful we can do something with that space, but it is a challenge to fill more than 8,000 square feet of retail on a road system that does not have a lot of traffic,” he said.
Under the financial agreement the Borough Council approved in December 2016, the developer will make payments in lieu of taxes for 30 years after the project’s completion.
Over five phases, stretching into the middle of this century, the developer will pay the borough an estimated $377,673 at the start to about $3.39 million in the final year of the agreement.
The council also negotiated a $3 million payment over the first three years of the agreement that will be directed toward a new recreation center and playing fields in Olsen Park.
The borough received the first payment of $125,000 last month and will receive another $250,000 before construction begins.
“I think it’s going to be a shot in the arm for the town,” Councilman Tom Napolitano said. “It’s going to bring new life to what was a blighted area and will hopefully create an economic boost for our business districts.”