Eminent domain use OK'd: Jersey City NJ Jersey Journal, 2/3/07

By Ronald Leir

Plans for the new highway shopping center in Bayonne have taken another step forward, with the Bayonne Local Redevelopment Authority commissioners giving BLRA Executive Director Nancy Kist the go-ahead to sign a redeveloper agreement with Cameron Bayonne LLC.

At the same time, the commissioners last week authorized the use of eminent domain to take a piece of land needed to complete the 26-acre tract that will accommodate the Bayonne Crossing shopping center on the east side of Route 440 between East 22nd Street and Hook Road.

Cameron partner Eric Alderman told commissioners that negotiations with private owners were going well, but sources in the city administration said talks between Cameron and one of those owners - AGC Chemicals Americas on East 22nd Street - have stalled after more than a year of talks.

Kist said that Cameron wants to buy a vacant, 14-acre, contaminated parcel from AGC, a subsidiary of the Japanese-owned Asahi Glass. She said that land is targeted by Cameron for "several anchor tenants - big box stores."

Kist said the BLRA won't wait much longer for an amicable resolution.

"We expect that Cameron will continue to negotiate in good faith (with AGC), but this is too important a project not to use eminent domain when we're talking about the future of an environmentally compromised vacant piece of land," Kist said.

AGC officials could not be for comment.

City officials have projected that the 10-building, 358,418-square-foot shopping center would account for 800 jobs, $1.2 million in annual taxes and between $3 million and $4 million in local Urban Enterprise Zone sales tax proceeds.

ExxonMobil, whose predecessor, Standard Oil, operated an oil terminal on part of the site, has pledged to clean up the land. Under the redevelopment agreement, Cameron would be locked into a three-year timetable for completion, with construction expected to start this year.

The BLRA also authorized Kist to sign a redevelopment agreement with Kaplan at Bergen Pointe LLC, of Highland Park, for the old 60-plus-acre Texaco site at the city's southern tip, which ExxonMobil has also agreed to clean up.

Kist said the agreement calls for Kaplan to hold another public forum on plans for the site by June, submit a site plan for the mixed-use project's first phase by year's end and to complete the project within 10 years, with an option for two five-year extensions.

The project would include some 1,310 housing units, and 150,000 square feet of retail, 180,000 square feet of offices, and parking for 4,200 cars, plus seven acres of parks, a public fishing pier and waterfront walkway.

Jersey City NJ Jersey Journal: http://www.nj.com/news/jjournal