By Sue Epstein
PERTH AMBOY — Two contaminated industrial sites earmarked for redevelopment for the past decade are finally being cleaned up and readied for use.
The old National Lead site on High Street near the Outerbridge Crossing will become a 1.2 million-square-foot distribution center with warehouses, commercial offices and possibly light manufacturing. The old Chevron property located between Route 35 and Amboy Avenue is also being redeveloped, Mayor Wilda Diaz said.
“We’re starting to see companies making huge investments in our city, bringing these old sites back to life,” Diaz said, adding the new projects will also bring jobs to the city.
Late last month, the Perth Amboy Redevelopment Agency (PARA) and Viridian Partners, a brownfields redevelopment company, held a groundbreaking at the old National Lead site which will become the ePort Logistics Center.
Tate Goss, president of Viridian Partners, said the property is already approved for warehouses and light industrial use.
Goss said his company purchases contaminated sites and, working with the state Department of Environmental Protection and federal Environmental Protection Agency, cleans them up so they can be reused.
He said the first phase of the 25-acre site, much of which was never developed, is the cleanup. Phase two will be the construction.
Goss said the property has deep-water port access along the Arthur Kill, rail and major highway access, making it “an excellent location” for warehouses storing goods brought for distribution along the eastern United States.
“When goods are brought to this country on the west coast, they make their way east by train with their destination being Kearny where the products are unloaded and put on trucks,” he said, adding that the trucks would deliver them to the warehouses in Perth Amboy for distribution to stores in New York and New Jersey.
Goss said once the site is cleaned up and approved for use by the DEP and EPA, his firm will sell the property to a second developer for development of three buildings for warehouse or other use.
Viridian is investing about $90 million in the purchase and cleanup of the property — a project expected to take 18 months to complete.
Goss said it will cost another $65 million for the “vertical construction” of the buildings.
The property was originally going to be redeveloped in 2004 as I-Port 440 International Trade and Logistics Center, but Goss said the original developer, Panattone Development Corp., backed out and Perth Amboy officials contacted his company which has done five or six other projects in the state.
Diaz said she would like to see a “top 500 company” come to the new center, one that would “be here for the long term and have a positive impact on our city.”
The mayor said the old Chevron site is now being cleaned up by Buckeye Partners and will be used for liquid pertroleum storage when the $250 million project is completed. The 250-acre tract was supposed to be cleaned up and redeveloped as an office and warehouse complex in 2005, but the original developer backed out.
“Both of those properties were dormant for more than two decades, Diaz said. “We have to be realistic. They need strong remediation, so it’s exciting to see interest in redeveloping them.”