In what Atlanta-based developer North American Properties is calling the largest mixed-use project in New Jersey history, venture partners North American Properties and Prudential Global Investment Management have presented to the Sayreville Economic Development Agency plans to build a $2.5 billion mixed-use project named “Riverton” on a brownfield site along the Raritan River in Sayreville.
Mark Toro, managing partner for North American Properties and a Warren County native, calls the site “One of the last great real estate pieces left on the Eastern seaboard.” He said the project will be similar to that of National Harbor and Wharf in Washington, D.C.
“The fact that it’s on the Raritan River affords us to engage the water unlike any other major mixed-use project in New Jersey,” said Toro, a Rutgers graduate. “We have the opportunity to build a marina – and there is a tremendous demand for marina space in New Jersey currently –and serve that segment of the market while having the romance of a waterfront site.”
And while Toro said the plans for the development are still being worked on, North American Properties properties expects to build at least 1 million-square-feet of retail and 2,000 residential units.
The site, a 418-acre brownfield with waterfront access to the Raritan River on both sides of the Driscoll Bridge at Exit 125 of the Garden State Parkway, was once slated to house a 2.2 million-square-foot regional mall. North American Properties said it will seek to amend site plan approvals obtained in 2014 for the regional mall and approvals for an award from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.
The joint venture partners said that as part of a conservation easement with the township, only 320 acres out of the 418-acre site have been approved for development.
“There are a number of different things that have been proposed that will occupy the non-developable acreage,” Toro said. “We think that being able to gather the community [and program the property] for their use is an important selling point.”
North American Properties said that following remediation of the site, which is expected to be completed soon, it anticipates breaking ground for the first phase of Riverton, which will consist of office space above street-level retail, in the second quarter of 2018. Toro said most of the buildings will be mid-rise, from five to 12 stories. “ The first phase will include the retail and the village component. The residential will likely follow as it will the [stand-alone] office and hotel,” he said.
In the meantime, both Prudential Global Investment Management, which owns the site, and North American Properties will continue to secure financing.
“The effect on our community will be nothing short of stunning,” Sayreville Mayor Kennedy O’Brien said. The town looked forward to working with the developers “to create the type of innovative project that is tremendously beneficial for the people of our community, and creating the type of regional destination of which we can be enormously proud,” he said.
Toro said that Prudential invited North American Properties to the Sayreville site after the two entities developed Avalon, a smaller scale mixed-use project in Atlanta, Georgia. Avalon was a $1 billion project with 570,000 square feet on 83 acres that included 678,000 square feet of office space and over 600 residential units. The joint venture partners are scheduled to deliver the third phase of Avalon this year.
The National Lead Paint site redevelopment, according to the Sayreville Economic Development Agency, has been a project decades in the making. According to the executive director, Joseph Ambrosio, the remediation of the site was one of the agency’s first projects. The National Lead Paint company vacated in the late 1980s.
The site was remediated by the previous developer, Sayreville Seaport Associates, which was a combination of O’Neil Properties, Prudential and several other financial backers that contributed a total $20 million. The developers were also awarded a $20 million loan from the Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Fund.
North American Properties and Sayreville said close to completing the remediation.
Developing the remediated site is the “single largest opportunity in Sayreville,” O’Brien said. “This has been a long process, an arduous process, but Sayreville will also be the keystone for opening redevelopment along the Raritan River.”
Ambrosio said the project has the potential for new economic opportunities. He said that when Sayreville Seaport Associates had proposed to build an enclosed regional mall, the town had engaged it in the construction of a marina. The plans, he said, will be revised by the new venture partners, but the marina is a component the agency is eager to engage the developers on.
“The marinas really start in the Morgan section [of Sayreville] and then you have marinas in Keyport and Kingsburg and along the bay,” he said. “We’re looking to what would be a northern point of these places so that if during the good weather, if [boaters] want to come up through Keyport that is an option.”
Ambrosio said the Sayreville Economic Development Agency is awaiting revised plans from North American Properties and Prudential, but he said he is impressed with the swiftness and eagerness with which the developers have engaged both the agency and the town.
“Our priority is doing [Riverton] intelligently and smartly, and protecting the residents of the borough of Sayreville to make sure they get all their amenities,” Ambrosio said.