Category Archives: Retail

More retail for Nutley and Clifton?

Roche announced Tuesday that it plans to shut the 83-year-old location, which includes 2 million square feet of space on a 119-acre campus. The site once was home to 5,000 workers, but now contains only 1,000 employees and 1,000 contract or temporary workers. Roche said it plans to end operations by the end of 2013, clean up pollution on the site and sell it by the end of 2015

As per a past in…Retail development expected for much of 119 acres Roche is leaving. it seems as though the commercial real estate brokers have their mind made up as to what the 119 acres that Roche will be leaving behind will be used for…at least in their mind.

Can’t wait to see what actually happens many years from now, when the people who actually have to put up the money to purchase the property the plane it out and obtain all the necessary approvals to develop it come up with.

By then who knows what will happen with the economy, retail development, retail in general, and with the change in demographics.

The smartest comment on the matter comes from famed super-broker Andrew Merin of Cushman & Wakefield….

Real estate brokers said Nutley and Clifton would probably resist large-scale residential development on the site, because of the cost of providing services, especially schools, for a big influx of new residents. But Merin said multi-family development on at least some of the site would increase the tax base and provide needed housing.

“That’s how you attract young people back to these towns,” he said.

Retail and towns will die in suburbia if young people are forced to live elsewhere because of ta lack of affordable housing, and a lack of mass transportation…and all the other amenities that today’s buyers are looking for.

119 acres is a huge project, and an equally huge undertaking, and it would be a crime not to develop an all inclusive mixed use project as Hartz Mountain and Gene Heller has done in the past in many communities.  Mixed use projects are where it’s at for the future development of large scale projects.  Developers need to give back something of value to the communities they want to build in…and this is the way to do it.

And btw, by the time it takes to put a shovel in the ground, who knows what the state of retail will be. Will consumers need more places to shop for  items they can easily get online?


Fort Lee grappled with future development for 20 years. Revitalizing the area will now begin

I don’t understand the purpose of a recent post on titled….Fort Lee grapples with questions on future development.

Two projects…The Center at Fort Lee received approvals a few months ago, and Hudson Lights was just approved a few days ago…are a culmination of grappling with a problem for 20 years.

This article makes it as though this grappling is in its infant stage, when in fact it’s not.

The future plans for development in Fort Lee are finally in place, and the only question is, when will these projects be started and when will they be completed, so the community can start seeing the benefits from all the new traffic that will come into the area.

Hudson Lights get the go ahead from Ft Lee!

The Planning Board on Monday night unanimously approved plans for the western half of a mixed-use development, clearing the way for $1 billion in construction that supporters say will revitalize the borough’s struggling downtown

What could be so bad for Ft Lee to add $5.1 million to it’s tax base?

A lifestyle change for Fort Lee

Nothing but upside…except for some additional traffic (but traffic is actually a good thing for towns that welcome people into their community to shop, dine, work, and live).

The vote appeared to herald an end to decades of false starts and failed efforts to develop 16 acres south of the George Washington Bridge, bounded by Bruce Reynolds Boulevard, Central Road, Main Street and Lemoine Avenue

The reality is, in order to survive into the future, more suburban communities need to allow projects, such as Hudson Lights to be built, or they will continue to decline.

“I know we have a spectacular project – one that, when it is completed, we will all be proud to have,” Richard Tucker (developer) said.

Planned projects like this, is a good thing for a community.  A community can only improve when you take an antiquated area and modernize it for the future.  After a long 20 year process, Ft Lee will finally have a wonderful projects that brings it into the 21st century.

There’s really no downside to the Hudson Lights project which is about to be approved by the town. Hudson Lights will generate a larger financial, and more beneficial long term benefits to the town than the previous project that was recently approved (The Center at Ft Lee). Two residential towers do nothing for the community, but to add a stunning skycap and bring in additional taxes.  But, with the addition of a large retail center, this combination creates a dynamic lifestyle component that you can’t find in but a few locations.

After all the aggravation that is sure to happen during the construction process, Hudson lights and The Center at Ft Lee will be a welcome addition for the region.

Read the entire article here in…Fort Lee planning board ok’s western half of $1B downtown development

Fort Lee’s Hudson Lights can have huge positive impact for area retail

The creation of Hudson Lights and  The Center at Fort Lee are two very crucial projects to Fort Lee and to all of the surrounding communities

Business district near Hudson Lights

In a June 4th 2012 article on northjersey titled….Fort Lee development will improve “tired” downtown, mayor says…Ft Lee’s Mayor Sokolich stated that the special improvement district was created to clean up “a tired downtown” which would in turn help current shop owners in the town.

And he’s correct in his thinking.  However, a lot more needs to be done for this to be a success for store owners who have been in Ft Lee for years, or decades.

The problem facing Ft Lee’s downtown isn’t unlike the problems facing every downtown area in our region:

  • there’s tremendous competition from shopping centers,
  • competition from the internet where it’s easy to shop for deals…and for current merchandise,
  • a large percentage of downtown stores fail after a year or two because they don’t carry products that most people want
  • most downtown stores are poorly marketed, if they’re marketed at all
  • most stores carry outdated merchandise
  • most stores and their storefront windows are ugly and are uninviting to passersby

So to think that the creation of Hudson Lights and The Center at Fort Lee, will bring instant prosperity to shop owners is highly unlikely.  The developers  and the town are not responsible for making these businesses successful, so expensive overhead crosswalks aren’t the answer.  If these shop owners have something worthwhile to walk to, then people will cross the street to get there.

This doesn’t mean that it can’t happen.  But it rests solely on the shoulders of the owners themselves.

These two projects can’t make everyone successful, unless the store owners and landlords make that happen.

And here’s how it can happen:

  • If you carry merchandise or supply services that people want they will seek you out
  • store owners need to update their business models so they can compete and draw customers
  • update your storefronts so they look as appealing as a new modern store
  • learn to market yourselves on blogs, twitter, and through local newspapers
  • To an extent you’re going to have to compete on price, so you better do it
  • your merchandise has to be what people are looking for
  • create delivery services for whatever you sell, so it becomes easier for the apartment renters to buy your products
  • landlords have to update their buildings, because if they remain ugly and the current stores fail, then it’s going to be that much harder, or impossible to re-lease the space without offering steep discounts
  • create new signage that compete with the new projects
  • learn to draw from the traffic that the new retailers will be spending tons of money on to create

Unfortunately some of the existing stores will fail.  But if you look at their balance sheets at this time they’ve probably been on life support for years, and it was only a matter of pride why the plug wasn’t pulled years before.

These projects will bring in a tremendous amount of new traffic to this area, and retailers need to learn how to grab the attention of those people.  If you don’t know how to compete in a modern local economy, your business will fail.  And you will only have yourself to blame.

There are dozens of ways to compete and to increase your local business…retailers just need to step out of their comfort zone and learn how to create success, because it won’t happen by accident, or because of an increase in traffice.

In anticipation of a huge influx of new potential business, start your social media marketing now, and start updating your stores and merchandise.  The existing stores have an advantage over new stores, because these stores are already part of the community, so use that yo your advantage.

Play to compete.

Social media can be your key to success.

Let me know what you think.

Ft. Lee’s Hudson Lights inches closer to approval

Fort Lee Planning Board hears more on Hudson Lights project


Representatives of the Hudson Lights at Fort Lee development project attempted to quell concerns from Planning Board officials on May 14, reassuring them that architectural and environmental issues on the site will not delay construction.

What amazes me after all the time that was put into the planning process for the new Hudson Lights project, is that there are still unanswered questions from either side.  Why haven’t all the major issues been resolved at this point?  It’s not like this is the first time the Planning Board has seen the plans. Id be willing to be that everything has been reviewed and re-reviewed at great length by both parties.

Everyone has known what the size and scope of the project is for quite s0me time, and I can’t believe that this is the first time that a rendering has been presented to the Board.

So why all the questions…now?  Could it be posturing by either side?

Testimony as to what the storefronts on Lemoine would look like drew a confused response from the Planning Board, prompting member Don Porrino to question whether the panel was rushing through the reviewing process.

“There are so many unanswered questions on this application,” he said. “There seems to be a lot of first-time presentations here.”

“I don’t think any of the environmental issues should hold up construction,” said McAndrew. “Soil can be remediated right now; groundwater is also being remediated right now.”

It’s real simple…

  • if there’s not enough parking spots, then either create more or reduce the size of the project
  • if a traffic light is needed then add one.  And if you don’t know if there’s a need then make provisions if one needs to be added
  • at this point in time there should be no confusion as to what the storefronts will look like.  No matter what it looks like, it will be more attractive than anything else in Ft Lee.  Towns can’t dictate beauty…though they try
  • no matter happens here there will be additional traffic on Lemoine.  The developers can’t fool themselves here because if it doesn’t work then the project will be a failure and they lose out big time financially
  • the project will be a boost to the town
  • and without Harbor Lights, the other project (twin rental towers…900 rentals) that was just approved could end up a failure

It’s unfortunate that the two projects weren’t part of a combined approval, because if something does go wrong the blame will go to one project or the other…when it will really be the fault of both.

The developer and the Planning Board need to deal with the outstanding issues, which I assume they already have, and move this project to a vote…so it doesn’t drag on.  2o years is a long time.

Hudson Lights and twin towers project in Ft Lee are becoming a reality

The proposed Hudson Lights project and the already approved “yet to be named” twin towers: A view from space

The two new projects that will be started in Ft Lee this year offer some exciting opportunities for the surrounding communities. Yes it’s going to be a bit of a pain while the construction is taking place, but once everything is completed everyone (even in Tenafly) will benefit from this enhancement:

  • The eyesore that we’ve all lived with for 20+ years will now become an iconic looking project.  No one can deny that that this isn’t an amazing upgrade for Ft Lee and all of New Jersey
  • If they’re smart, and upgrade their businesses, the area retails will have an influx of people to fill their stores. And if they don’t take advantage of this opportunity, they have no one else to blame but themselves
  • The area restaurants will see a boom in their business…the delivery business should go wild.  And this isn’t just for Ft Lee…this is going to benefit the entire area
  • 1500+- new apartments will be filled with people (2000-3000 people?) from all over the region and these people will shop and dine here
  • New retail creates better existing retail…only if they have what people are looking for.  And now the retailers will have to compete with the new project, so it’s not going to be a guarantee.  They will have to work it if they want to be successful
  • New employment opportunities will exist.  This is a huge plus
  • Contrary to popular opinion…traffic patterns and timing should actually get better because of the proposed upgrades
  • The residential rental business will boom for everyone…not just for the new projects

There will defiantly be some bumps in the road (no pun intended) throughout the construction process, but that’s to be expected. Just get these projects underway and completed as soon as humanly possible, so we can all start enjoying the benefits.

Suburbia needs more projects like this.

Here are a few satellite shots of the area, via bing and google earth.  Now you’ll see why this is such a valuable location

Yes, I’ve developed a lot of real estate projects in my career, and I love seeing progress.  And why shouldn’t the suburbs start benefiting from what it has to offer.  Politics aside, these projects are needed for a multitude of reasons.  Whether or not the original developers make money or not, the community as a whole will benefit for decades to come.  And that’s what really matters here.

Ft Lee, Hudson Lights mega project advancing

Cleanup starts in Fort Lee, but some planners suggest project is being rushed
Monday, May 14, 2012

Hudson Lights…Ft Lee NJ

FORT LEE – Work has begun to clean up contaminated soil and groundwater at the site of a mixed-use project that some say will define the borough, and should not delay construction, a representative of one of the developers told the Planning Board on Monday night.

That information was followed by a presentation on architectural plans for the western half of the project that one board member called “discombobulated” and prompted another to question whether the application had been rushed. The borough’s planning consultant said repeatedly Monday night that he was hearing details for the first time and needed to digest the information.

“When we come back next week, will we have another 30 unanswered questions?” asked Don Porrino, a Planning Board member. “I’m not saying it’s anyone’s fault, but there seems to be a lot of first-time presentations here that, most important, our planners haven’t seen.”

Bill Harrison, attorney for Tucker Development Corp., the Illinois-based developer of the western half of the project, acknowledged that the architect’s presentation had been rushed to accommodate the schedule of the borough’s planning consultant, who attended Monday’s meeting.

Monday was the third of four scheduled hearings to review plans for the western half of the $1 billion downtown mixed-use project. The 16-acre redevelopment zone is footsteps from the George Washington Bridge and is bounded by Bruce Reynolds Boulevard, Central Road, Main Street and Lemoine Avenue.

The western half of the project, called Hudson Lights at Fort Lee, is to be built by Tucker Development. Its plans call for approximately 175,000 square feet of space
for retail stores and restaurants, 477 residential units, a 175-room hotel and parking for 1,235 cars. The developer is also seeking variances to allow for larger signs, which it says will make it easier to attract high-end retailers.

The retail square footage and number of parking spaces that project team members announced this week had been modified slightly from figures included in earlier reports to the borough.

Charles Olivo, the developer’s traffic engineer, said about 300 of the parking spaces would be for condominium owners, and that the remaining spaces would be sufficient to accommodate all the employees, hotel guests and shoppers. He agreed to submit a new parking analysis.

If it is approved, Tucker’s project will sit in the shadow of two 47-story luxury residential high rises that will be the tallest buildings in Bergen County. The buildings are the centerpiece of the eastern half, called the Center at Fort Lee, which the Planning Board approved in March and also will feature a restaurant, a snack kiosk, a museum, a movie theater and a 1.75-acre park.

Together, the projects would add about 1,380 residential units and 187,500 square feet of retail and other businesses, making it Fort Lee’s largest redevelopment effort to date.

On Monday, Paul McAndrew, the senior project manager for the western half, said nine contamination areas have been identified that will require minor excavation and the removal of contaminated soil. So-called historic fill, which is used to raise the elevation of a site, accounts for much of the “lightly contaminated” soil, McAndrew said. The site at one point was occupied by laundry and dry-cleaning businesses, an auto-repair shop and a gas station, including underground storage tanks, he said.

Groundwater contamination also has been found at the site, but is “not extremely high,” he said. Remediation will require long-term monitoring, he said, “but that should not prevent construction from proceeding.”

Olivo last week presented a plan meant to improve traffic that called for installing a new traffic signal on Lemoine Avenue between Main Street and Bruce Reynolds Boulevard. But that would result in three lights within about 600 feet on one of the borough’s busiest roads.

Planning Board members this week again raised concerns that having so many lights so close together would impede traffic flow rather than help it.

 “Fort Lee is basically Lemoine Avenue between the bridge and Main Street,” said Planning Board member Chris Nicholas. “If anything is done to alter that, I would tell you that it would not be a very great situation.”

The developer has said it will not proceed with the plan if further studies showed a negative impact.

The next hearing will be Monday at 7:30 p.m. at the Jack Alter Community Center, 1355 Inwood Terrace.


Steve’s Take:

In the rush to get a major metro project approved, sometimes even a seasoned developer bobbles the ball a little.  But all can’t be blamed on the developer because the town and their planners and engineers have been working on the plans for a really long time, and are aware of just about everything.  In this business there aren’t too many unknowns at this point in the approval process…maybe there just wasn’t enough time to put everything down on paper.Guys, get the project approved and work out all the little details as you go.  It’s time already.

And Tucker…you’re in New Jersey. We work differently here than in the Mid West…and that’s not always a good thing.  You need a few key locals working for you, because you still have a long way to go with this.

BTW…Oops, you forgot to show us the WOW FACTOR for this site! Why hasn’t this rendering been used in the past.  This is a fantastic looking project!

It’s all about marketing!