Could a once industrial property that has largely been sitting vacant for years along a busy Essex County street finally be redeveloped? After years of discussion, a new development plan that calls for a major transformation of the site at 630-666 Washington Avenue in Belleville has been revealed.
A public notice issued on March 18 shows that the property next to the Belleville ShopRite parking lot opposite the Motorcycle Mall is now slated to become the site of a mixed-use complex that would contain 135 residential units along with 22,225 square feet of retail and restaurant space. Parking would be provided on the premises. The Newark Industrial Track, a freight line once part of the Erie Railroad, runs behind the site and is adjacent to the old Walter Kidde manufacturing property.
Roughly a year ago, trees on the property were cleared and fencing was installed, leaving a large vacant lot that is visible from Washington Avenue. While most of the tract is currently empty and undeveloped, there is a small 6,384-square-foot building covered in graffiti on the southern edge of the premises. As part of the project, this former office building would remain standing and be renovated, but few other details have been announced yet regarding the development.
The current property owner, JCR Benelli, LLC, paid a combined $3.35 million last year for the two lots that make up the site, according to NJ Parcels. JCR Benelli recently applied to the Belleville Planning Board for Final Site Plan approval in order to move forward with redeveloping the premises. The company’s application is scheduled to go before the board on Thursday, March 28, at 7:00 p.m., according to the notice.
Belleville Development Group, LLC used to own the lots but the firm filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy before selling their assets to JCR Benelli. Back in 2013 when Belleville Development Group first bought the site, plans were announced for a mixed-use development, but the proposal never came to fruition. There was also a plan that surfaced for a billion dollar project called Imagine Center with a high-rise 756-unit complex.
EPA records show that in the years before becoming vacant, the site was home to companies such as Flexon Industries beginning in 1972 and that there were concerns over potential contamination such as oil spills when a plant at the location was in operation.
Note to readers: The dates that applications are scheduled to be heard by the Belleville Planning Board and other commissions are subject to change.