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Newark officials offer details on Passaic River development

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One of Newark’s next big economic development projects will likely be a 250,000-square-foot distribution center along the Passaic River, city officials said last week.

The project, by the Rutherford-based Morris Cos., is expected to break ground this spring on Lister Avenue in the city’s Ironbound section, said Adam Zipkin, Newark’s deputy mayor for economic and housing development. The roughly $40 million development is being built on a speculative basis, which Zipkin said speaks to Newark’s growing appeal as a location for new warehouse and shipping projects.

“I think Morris is one of the first projects that we’re seeing move forward where it’s literally just based on confidence in the market,” Zipkin said. “And I think it’s based in part on what they’re seeing in terms of the other distribution centers being built in Newark.”

Mayor Cory Booker first announced the project in his State of the City address Thursday night, as he ticked off other several warehouse, shipping and logistics projects that have broken ground in the city during his administration. The Morris facility would join the likes of the Bartlett Dairy distribution center and the Damascus Bakery manufacturing facility in the South Ward, along with a new refrigerated warehouse for Wakefern Food Corp. in the East Ward.

Zipkin said the Morris project will involve about $20 million worth of cleanup before vertical construction commences next year. The 15-acre brownfields site once housed a Sherwin Williams paint manufacturing facility.

The planned completion date is late 2014 or early 2015, Zipkin said. The project, which could be as large as 350,000 square feet, is expected to generate more than 400 construction jobs and at least 200 permanent jobs.

Zipkin noted the project is being funded in part by an $18 million bond under the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust program. Whether the developer will apply for assistance through state incentive programs could “depend on the end user and the ultimate project cost,” he said.

“I think that if this turned out to be big enough that it became eligible for something like Urban Transit Hub, I’m sure they would consider it,” Zipkin said. “But I think at this point, until they know exactly what it is they’re building, they can’t make that determination.”

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