After receiving site plan approval from two New Jersey municipalities for the first group of buildings of a 380-acre industrial park last week, the developer of the project is ready to start construction on the first building in about a month.
The long-awaited project, rebranded as Bridgepoint 78, will yield seven buildings, bringing a total 3.8 million square feet of industrial space to both Phillipsburg and Lopatcong, said Jeff Milanaik, partner for the northeast region of Bridge Development Partners in Parsippany, N.J.
“We have the full expectation to move dirt before Labor Day,” Milanaik said. “We are hopeful, with the ability to move soil; you will see pad ready sites by Thanksgiving.”
That’s the precursor for buildings to start rising on-site.
Earlier this year, Bridge Development bought the property at 942 Memorial Parkway in Warren County for $43 million from Opus Investment/KTV Inc. of Red Bank, N.J.
The park would occupy the former Ingersoll Rand property along the Interstate 78 corridor and Route 22, covering both Phillipsburg and Lopatcong.
Though Ingersoll Rand once operated a manufacturing site at the property, it sat vacant for decades, prompting many people in the community to wonder when it would return to active use.
Active site remediation is still underway on land where the phase two buildings will go up, but Milanaik is hopeful that work would be complete in the next six to 12 months.
Bridge Development helped the former owners of the Ingersoll Rand site with overall design concept for several years before eventually buying the site from them, he added.
The economy has caught up to where the market conditions for these properties give developers the ability to make these projects work, he added.
Tax credits from the Grow NJ Assistance Program also apply to the site and both towns have shown their support for the project, he added.
Milanaik said he looks at the distribution market as regional in nature. In the northern New Jersey market, including the Lehigh Valley, industrial tenants have access to about one-third of the population of the U.S.
“The Northern N.J. industrial market is one large market, according to Milanaik.
Plus, the Bridgepoint 78 site is closer to the Port of New York and New Jersey than other industrial sites such as Bethlehem or Allentown, another benefit, according to Milanaik.
He sees potential for a wide variety of tenants at Bridgepoint 78, including possibly light manufacturing, distribution and food-related tenants.
“You have major benefits of the sites, utilities are robust, you have a very strong labor base…we have had interest from a variety of users,” said Jake Terkanian, first vice president of CBRE, the Philadelphia-based real estate firm that brokered the deal and is marketing the property. “We look at Phillipsburg, N.J. as just an extension of the Lehigh Valley.”
Terkanian said he has seen interest from tenants outside the area.
“We’ve seen interest from retailers, e-commerce, it’s really been across the board,” Terkanian said.
Companies are interested in all sorts of building sizes too, he added.
The first group of buildings has one at 975,700 square feet; another at 607,200 square feet; one at 175,000 square feet; and another at 419,400 square feet. Those buildings should be delivered by the end of 2019, Terkanian said.
The second group of buildings should be complete by 2020. This phase has one building at 500,000 square feet; one at slightly more than 1 million square feet; and another building at 262,500 square feet.
The buildings are going up on speculation, with no tenant in mind, but geared to those users looking to move in shortly after completion of construction.
Bridge Development is using Premier Design & Build Group, based in Chicago, as the general contractor and Cornerstone Architects Limited of Chicago, as the designer.
However, Milanaik said Bridge Development would use local subcontractors for the entire project.