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PERTH AMBOY, NJ-This waterfront city has become a poster child for what works in urban redevelopment, and local officials have signed an agreement that will add yet another feather in their cap. The city has just inked a deal with joint venture partners Panattoni Development Co. of Sacramento, CA and Slayton Development Co. of New York City to turn 175 contaminated waterfront acres into a massive 2.2-million-sf mixed-use project.

The project will “take a dormant site and produce jobs and ratables,” according to Mayor Joseph Vas, speaking at the announcement of the agreement. “It is the essence of ‘smart growth’.”

I-Port 440 International Trade and Logistics Center, as the project is being called, will combine commercial, industrial and recreational facilities, according to the development partners. As outlined by PA-PDC Perth Amboy LLC, as the development partnership has officially been designated, the project will include 2.2 million sf of retail, office and industrial–mostly logistical–space.

Specifically, the PA-PDC Perth Amboy plan calls for roughly 1.2 million sf of flex/warehouse space, more than 600,000 sf of tech space and 200,000 sf of office space. Some 200,000 sf of retail space is also part of the mix.

The project does have a couple of quirks, notably a 25-acre site set aside for some sort of sports or entertainment venue. Vas has long pushed for a stadium for a minor league baseball team, and the site might end up being just that. An enclosed arena or other sporting venue are also being discussed, and possibly a community theater, according to sources.

“It has been one of our dreams to provide recreation, either a stadium or arena, or a theater, or all of them,” Vas said at the signing of the designated redeveloper agreement between the city and the development partnership.

The 440 in the project’s name refers to Route 440, which connects the Garden State with Staten Island via the Outerbridge Crossing. The site is literally located in the shadow of that span.

The site will also require substantial remediation and environmental oversight-–it was once utilized for manufacturing by both American Smelting and Refining and National Lead. Pending necessary site remediation and environmental permits, the developers hope to start construction by late 2005. From that point, principals in PA-PDC Perth Amboy, including Panattoni’s Aaron Melinski and Slayton’s Paul Slayton, expect to complete the project in four phases over a seven-year period.

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