HOBOKEN, N.J., Aug. 23, 2018 – Transit-oriented redevelopments are an important component of smart growth, spurring economic revitalization and creating pedestrian-friendly communities where people can live, work and play – all centered around high- quality train systems. However, today’s commercial real estate market – particularly in New Jersey and New York – is largely influenced by environmental concerns. Underutilized and defunct sites on which these projects are built often require a remediation strategy to address historic contamination before redevelopment can move forward.
According to Michael Novak, LSRP and President of Atlantic Environmental Solutions Inc. (AESI), a Hoboken-based environmental remediation and consulting firm, frequently these properties are designated as brownfield sites, where redevelopment/reuse has not previously occurred due to the presence or potential presence of pollution in buildings, soil or groundwater. AESI specializes in the regulatory, technical and management aspects of environmental issues, and has successfully returned dozens of contaminated properties to beneficial use as thriving transit-oriented developments.
“The contamination that we encounter when working on transit-oriented projects varies based on a property’s prior use,” Novak said. “In some instances, the developer and the community are removing a factory, an auto salvage yard or a petroleum distribution facility where contaminants may include chemicals used by those operators. In other cases, the prior use might have been a strip center, or a row of multiple single-parcel buildings partially comprised of problematic uses such as dry cleaners, gas stations or auto repair shops.”
In New Jersey, the developer becomes liable and responsible for any contamination at the property that is discoverable pre-purchase, said Novak. “The developer will perform a preliminary assessment of each parcel and study the environmental history of all users at that parcel dating back to initial development. New York is somewhat different as there the developer can qualify for liability exemptions by participating in NY’s Brownfields Cleanup Program. However, Novak adds, “To participate in the BCP program, the purchaser needs to perform an Environmental Assessment pre-purchase and also needs to budget time and expense of working with the agency.” Expediting site cleanup as quickly as possible, without compromising quality, and bringing a site into compliance with applicable remediation standards are vitally important with these projects.”
Morris, Monmouth Developments Among Recent Projects
In western Morris County, AESI performed remediation at a 7-acre, 160-unit townhome-style rental community. The multifamily developer transformed the once-vacant site into a dynamic transit village community comprised of one- and two-bedroom rental homes complemented by a host of upscale on-site amenities. Prior to its redevelopment, the property was an industrial eyesore in a lake and wooded community, that posed multiple complex environmental remediation challenges due to its former use as a manufacturing facility.
The environmental consulting firm performed a preliminary assessment of the site, and also identified and delineated wetlands which needed to be protected. The presence of wetlands limited the developable portion of the property. AESI delineated the wetlands and completed soil remediation work within one year. Groundwater was remediated to trace levels of contamination which was delineated. Site monitoring is ongoing.
“AESI’s environmental remediation work was critical to our success at Estling Village, where we transformed a blighted former factory into an attractive, transit-friendly residential community right next to the Denville train station,” said Joseph M. Forgione, the founder and principal of JMF Properties, the community’s developer. “It allowed us to fully untap the potential of this underutilized site and create a positive ratable for the Township.”
Another notable transit-oriented project AESI directed involved the remediation to facilitate development of one- and two-bedroom luxury rental residences with on-site retail in Monmouth County. The developer assembled this 8-acre parcel from three former industrial factories and a nearby site located along the train tracks.
“In this case we found multipe different types of contamination related to the historic industrial uses of these properties,” said Novak. “Soil and ground water remediation was performed successfully and today this project is limited to annual ground water monitoring.”
Both of these commuter-friendly projects underscore AESI’s expertise in remediating properties that require a high level of regulatory management, said Novak. To date AESI has issued 148 RAOs (Response Action Outcomes), many of which involve the transformation of abandoned or underutilized industrial properties into functional facilities that help New Jersey’s economy and provide tax benefits to their respective communities.
Based in Hoboken, N.J., Atlantic Environmental Solutions, Inc. is a full-service environmental consulting firm celebrating 20 years of helping businesses comply with complex environmental laws and regulations. The company is committed to saving clients time and money and to ensuring a better quality of life for communities and their residents.
Photo Caption: Atlantic Environmental Solutions’ environmental remediation work was instrumental in transforming a blighted, former factory into Estling Village, an attractive, transit-friendly residential community next to the Denville train station.