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WEEHAWKEN, NJ-With the last piece of the permitting and approval process — a waterfront development permit from the New Jersey DEP — in its pocket, Roseland Property Co. of Short Hills, NJ appears ready to add more than 1,630 residences and about 1.3 million sf of office space to its massive Port Imperial project. In fact, the first phase of 44 brownstones is already under construction.

A second phase that will include more residences, office space and a riverfront walkway could be underway before the end of this year. A grass-roots group that has been fighting the project, the Friends of the Weehawken Waterfront, is taking one last crack at blocking it in the courts.

Port Imperial South, as the project is called, will also add some retailing, a hotel and a new ferry terminal and a connection to the new Hudson-Bergen light rail system on 100 upland acres. At build-out, slated to take up to seven years, Port Imperial South will combine with the 100-acre Port Imperial North in neighboring West New York and Guttenberg, NJ to add 6,500 residences and more than two million sf of commercial space to the Hudson County landscape. It will be roughly opposite Manhattan’s 35th through 85th Streets and carries an estimated price tag of $1.7 billion, according to Roseland principal Carl Goldberg.

“This development will completely overwhelm this town and cut it off from the waterfront,” FWW spokesman Benjamin Goldman told local reporters this past weekend. While much of Port Imperial North is already completed or under construction, his group has been fighting Port Imperial South for nearly three years. Countering concerns about congestion, blocked views of Manhattan and lack of public access to the waterfront, Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner says the project will attract people, and public access won’t be shut off.

The public hearing process began back in 1999 and included negotiations between Roseland and FWW, but the latter filed suit to block it in February of 1999. That suit was thrown out a year ago, but remains alive in the state appellate court. Another lawsuit was filed earlier this year over the Weehawken planning board’s amendment to the development plan. The amendment trimmed the plan back some, but not nearly enough to suit opponents. Noted land use attorney James Segreto of Segreto & Segreto of Haledon, NJ is handling the legal challenge for FWW, and has raised the issue of hazardous contaminants in the site.

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