Credit: (AP Photo / Mel Evans)
Photo file: August 19, 2010, warning sign at a polling station in Polsbare

An abandoned building in Camden, an open site that once occupied a chemical plant in Newark, and a former warehouse in Trenton are long-neglected sites that would be valuable opportunities for renovation if buyers and sellers could come together.

Along with about 500 others in the state, these plots appear in a new list of derelict plots – plots of land that were used by industry or commerce but are now abandoned, idle or underused, and may be contaminated.

Three government agencies – the Department of the Environment, the Office of Economic Development and the Department of Community Affairs – are working to create a more accessible source of information on websites in the hope of encouraging their return to productive use. The agencies say the goal is to improve the quality of the environment, economic performance and public health by stimulating the development of these facilities.

By creating a central list of 513 sites, officials hope they will encourage investors, developers and local officials to rebuild sites and return them for productive use. They are located in 12 poor cities belonging to the State Joint Initiative, an ongoing program aimed at coordinating environmental cleanup, community empowerment and public health efforts.

Objects are identified in the new level of the Geographical Information System (GIS) of the Department of the Environment. mapping app.

Communities: Camden, Trenton, Perth Amboy, Bayonne, Bridgeton, Jersey City, Millville, Newark, Patterson, Polsbare, Salem and Vineland. The DEP said it plans to add other cities in future versions of the tool.

Long neglected but still valuable

Many industrial facilities have been in disrepair for years because their owners did not have the funds to clean them up and return them to production use, said Elizabeth Limbrick, EDA director for Brownfields and Sustainable Systems.

Others are falling out of use because their owners lack a vision of their restructuring or because the business has closed, she said.

In any case, the facilities are often valuable places that have long been neglected, but allow the state to stimulate development.

“You need to find ways to determine where these properties are, and they will be opportunities for new growth,” Limbrick said.

Facilities include an empty 1.82-hectare site on McCarter Highway in Newark, formerly occupied by Colonial Concrete Co. This is not part of the existing Brownfield Development Area development program, which also aims to renovate facilities by bringing together stakeholders, including owners, developers and local officials, but has not compiled an inventory of facilities.

The plot in Jersey City covers 2 acres and contains a building designated as “Industrial / Commercial”. Like some other new lists, this entry includes the owner’s phone number and email address.

If the new inventory stimulates demand for sites, many will require removal of contaminants. Part of this need is expected to be met by the new Brownfields Impact Fund EDA, which provides low-interest loans ranging from $ 50,000 to $ 350,000 to clean up the site.

John Jose, a professor of geography and land use specialist at Rowan University, said the tool was designed in a timely manner given the new tidy funding program.

“This underscores the importance of public access to more detailed information on running branches so that potential developers, city officials and residents can better understand the status and conditions of the site,” Jose said.

Shortage of land in New Jersey

If the new inventory is combined with the implications of New Jersey’s new Reconstruction Act – in which farmland will no longer qualify as an area in need of redevelopment – the impact on state land use could be significant, Jose said.

“As the base of undeveloped land in New Jersey becomes increasingly scarce with the continuation of stretched building models that compete with maintaining open space for remaining unprotected land, the economy of rebuilding contaminated sites is becoming more viable,” he said.

While an inventory may alert some developers to the existence of running affiliates, the main value of the tool will come when it is superimposed on other datasets such as DEP’s map of congested communities and a map of preserved lands in Camdenproduced by Rowan University GeoLab, Jose said.

Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, who is also authorized by the Department of Community Affairs, said the slums will benefit from the new tool.

“Restoring these sites is not only good for the economy, but also helps eliminate decades of abuse and abuse in our most disadvantaged neighborhoods,” she said. “This improved mapping will help people identify where branch offices are located and what government programs exist to help remediate contaminated sites in hopes of encouraging investment to return these properties to their full potential.”

Many cities have run-up plots within their borders but do not have the ability to identify and sell them, the DEP said. Developers are interested in finding new opportunities, but could not find them unless they were advertised by a commercial real estate broker.

“This new tool will better enable individuals in both the private and public sectors to join us in improving the quality of life of our residents, especially in our urban and poor communities,” said Department of Health Commissioner Sean Laturet.

Tim Evans, research director at the nonprofit New Jersey Future, said the new tool will help people looking for development opportunities in underpopulated communities, as well as access to other government funding programs designed for businesses located there.

“This looks most useful for people who are looking for opportunities for reconstruction of all kinds and want to do so in the municipality, where they can take advantage of economic incentive programs targeted at the specific municipalities that are depicted,” he said.

But the tool is unlikely to identify locations for new warehouses – a booming industry vying for hard-to-reach locations across the state – because many of the sites are too small for giant buildings, Evans said.

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