Construction is underway on a new train station that is central to transforming the site of a former aircraft plant in Wood-Ridge into a 70-acre, mixed-use transit hub.
Somerset Development, the firm spearheading the project, and NJ Transit officially broke ground Tuesday on the commuter rail facility, executives said. When complete, it will become a focal point of Wesmont Station, a redevelopment project that ultimately will include nearly 1,200 homes and a mix of commercial space.
The groundbreaking was a long-awaited milestone for the Lakewood-based developer, which has sought to transform the former Curtiss-Wright aircraft plant for more than a decade. Somerset is building most of the station infrastructure under a public-private partnership with NJ Transit, while the agency will operate the facility.
“The train station is the heart of this project, and today’s groundbreaking brings us another step closer to the realization of our vision for Wesmont Station,” Somerset Development President Ralph Zucker said in a prepared statement.
The overall redevelopment plan for the Bergen County site has been incremental since the real estate downturn. Last year, AvalonBay Communities Inc. completed a 406-unit luxury rental apartment complex that marked the first phase of the project.
Meantime, Pulte Homes is now building Liberty Square at Wesmont Station, a group of 217 for-sale townhomes, Somerset said in a news release. Future phases include single-family homes, more townhomes, retail, commercial buildings and open space.
When complete, the new rail station will connect with the Bergen County Line and give commuters access to Manhattan via Hoboken and Secaucus Junction, the news release said. The facility is expected to generate some 800 daily trips once it opens in fall 2015.
Plans also call for an overpass, a 215-space commuter parking lot, and a design that pays homage to the site’s industrial history, the firm said.
Somerset, the lead developer of Wesmont Station, has marked recent progress at other complex, long-stalled redevelopment projects in New Jersey. That includes the sprawling former Bell Labs campus in Holmdel, where Somerset officially kicked off a $100 million adaptive reuse plan last year.
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