The 100 acres along Jersey City’s west side and Hackensack Riverfront known as Bayfront appear in an artist’s rendering as a bustling urban center with new apartments, office space, retail, public parks, and even a train station, but after years of clean-up and plans, Bayfront remains a rendering and there doesn’t seem to be a developer in sight who can turn it into reality.
Bayfront is co-owned by Honeywell International, Inc. and Jersey City. Sadly, starting in the 19th Century, Honeywell’s predecessor polluted the site to such an extent that the chromium contamination had to be remediated. The Interfaith Community Organization (ICO) of Jersey City fought Honeywell for years to clean up the area and filed a federal lawsuit, winning the case in 2003.
Recently, ICO’s successor group Jersey City Together, protested Kushner Companies bid to develop the property, arguing they were going to market exclusively to the Orthodox Jewish community, and the idea that Bayfront could be the next Newport as Mayor Fulop mentioned in his March State of the City Address, saying the development “will be to the West Side of Jersey City what Newport was to Downtown in the 1980s.”
After so many years fighting for chromium decontamination, Jersey City Together wants Bayfront to enrich the existing community and is pushing hard for any plan to require hiring local residents and to include affordable housing.
Kushner Cos. was the front-runner of three bids, but pulled out because they were unconvinced by “the economics of the deal,” according to a company spokesman. None of the bids are still in play and requests to review those proposals have been denied due to confidentiality.
Bayfront’s transformation from a polluted industrial park into a brand-new neighborhood has been going on over ten years. 2017 mayoral challenger Bill Matsikoudis led the clean-up effort when he was corporation counsel for the former administration.
Continued community vigilance and upcoming elections could spur forward motion. And Honeywell spokeswoman Victoria Ann Streitfeld assures that the city-approved plans include affordable housing and that “the cleanup is complete, and when environmental approvals are in place we will go to the market and offer the property.”