The redevelopment of the former Curtiss-Wright aircraft factory site in Wood-Ridge (Bergen County) has been progressing. One major hurdle has been surmounted—construction of a new NJ TRANSIT station in the community gained approval. NJ TRANSIT’s Board of Directors and Wood-Ridge Development LLC, of Lakewood, agreed in June to share the cost of design and construction of the new train station and parking facility. The new Wesmont Station, as it will be known, will serve as the centerpiece of a transit-friendly, mixed-use neighborhood to be built on the former industrial site. Wesmont Station will be located on the Bergen County Line—between the Garfield and Rutherford stations—less than 8 miles from Secaucus Junction. Construction of the Wesmont Station is set to begin next year and will be completed in 2011.
The force behind Wood-Ridge Development LLC is Somerset Development of Lakewood, NJ, the firm named master redeveloper for the property by the Borough of Wood-Ridge in 2002. Somerset Development has started the site improvements for Phase 1 of the project and will be joined by Avalon Bay and Centex Homes. Avalon Bay is responsible for the first four multi-use buildings that will feature a mix of 406 luxury and affordable rental apartments over first floor retail space housed in distinct buildings. Of the 406 apartments, 61 will be affordable. The complex will include 28 studios, 162 one-bedroom apartments, 172 two-bedroom residences and 44 three-bedroom apartments. Avalon Bay expects to break ground next spring. Centex Homes will establish a sales center with models and begin work on 26 townhouses and seven single-family homes at its site which is adjacent to Avalon Bay. Centex expects to be ready to open for sales by summer 2009. The construction of 11 live-work spaces is also planned to be constructed in the first phase of the project. Pedestrian infrastructure, connecting all of these living spaces to the station and the adjacent public plaza, is part of this first phase.
“The approval by NJ TRANSIT for the new train station and the Wood-Ridge Planning Board’s approval of the final site plan for the first phase of construction is very exciting, as it means the results of years of planning, community collaboration, and hard work will soon begin to show themselves as this community takes shape,” said Ralph Zucker, president of Somerset Development. “We’re very proud of the caliber of community we are helping to bring to the town of Wood-Ridge, and of the recognition Wesmont Station has received, both locally and regionally, in setting a benchmark for smart growth, and transit-oriented neighborhood design.”
Wesmont Station is part of the U.S. Green Building Council pilot program for its emerging Neighborhood Development (ND) category in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. The development area is expected to qualify for LEED-ND gold status. Wesmont Station is considered a sustainable, smart-growth community and has already been awarded the New Jersey Future Smart Growth Award for design in 2006.
The project is a brownfields site, and within an area Wood-Ridge Borough declared “in need of redevelopment” by Wood-Ridge. Wood-Ridge Development LLC worked with the former property owner, Curtiss-Wright, and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to prepare the property for reuse. Substantial cleanup was completed, resulting in the issuance of a No Further Action Letter by NJDEP and soils where construction is occurring have been remediated to residential standards. The project is also the result of a continuing active partnership between the developer and Wood-Ridge Borough.