Harrison moving forward with redevelopment efforts

 By Rose Duger/For The Jersey Journal 

Harrison is moving forward with its redevelopment efforts by amending a plan adopted in 2003 to transform 250 acres of former industrial sites into a transit hub with residences, entertainment, hotels and other commercial uses.

Elected officials earlier this month introduced an ordinance approving amendments to the original plan.

The ordinance was scheduled for a public hearing Tuesday.

Mayor Raymond J. McDonough said the town approached the firms with which the town has redevelopment agreements to determine their interest in revising their plans.

“A year ago we approached all of the developers to see if they wanted to make changes to the plan,” said McDonough. “We spent hundreds of hours meeting with the developers and getting their ideas. Every developer has changes.”

The result is a revised plan that has jump-started the town’s more than decade-long redevelopment effort, with a host of groundbreakings on residential and retail complexes, as well as a hotel, expected later this year.

The plan notes that more than $287 million of public funds and more than $1 billion in private investment have already been expended or committed to various redevelopment projects in Harrison.

Susan Gruel of Heyer Gruel and Associates, the Red Bank-based firm that developed the original and amended plans, said the new proposals retain the town’s vision for the area, located along the Passaic River.

The plan incorporates a number of new elements, including a hotel district to recognize a 165-room Hampton Inn constructed in Harrison in 2004 and a 136-room Element by Westin approved for a site adjacent to the PATH station on Frank E. Rodgers Boulevard.

It also establishes Railroad Avenue from Frank E. Rodgers Boulevard to First Street as a retail district with active destination-type uses such as stores, restaurants, theaters, indoor recreation and entertainment facilities, art galleries and businesses.

The residential district now encompasses developments with both for-sale and rental units.

Other districts in the plan include a mixed-use district, a stadium district to acknowledge Red Bull Arena, a commercial district with a proposed medical office/wellness center and 10- to 25-story office building, a planned office district near the former PSE&G site to accommodate office towers up to 25 stories, an office/technology center district, a food-oriented district with restaurants and wholesale food distributors, a structured parking district incorporating a new parking garage and a parks/walkway district featuring a waterfront walkway along the Passaic River.

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