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HARRISON, NJ-A 140-foot water tower came crashing down in this Hudson County city last week, one of dozens of former industrial structures slated to be razed in the coming weeks. The 27-acre riverfront site containing the various vacant structures is being cleared to make way for Harrison Commons, a five-phase mixed-use complex that will include a total of 3,000 residences and 90,000 sf of retail along the Passaic River.

The project is being done by a trio of partners, including the Pegasus Group and Applied Development, both based in nearby Hoboken. The third partner is the Beverly Hills, CA-based Canyon Johnson Urban Fund, the private real estate fund headed by Bobby Turner and former basketball star Magic Johnson.

“This is an example of a smart growth initiative that is replacing underutilized properties with a new use that, following an extensive clean-up and remediation process, will provide housing, much needed retail and a pedestrian-friendly downtown center,” says Pegasus principal Richard Miller. “It will breathe new life into the area.”

“This will be one of the most exciting projects ever built in this area,” says Applied’s David Barry. “It will have state-wide, if not national significance.”

The site is between the Harrison PATH station and the Passaic River, and plans call for a first phase of two four- and seven-story buildings with 477 rental apartments atop 35,000 sf of retail and a five-story parking garage. Phase two will have a four-story building with 250 residential units over 15,000 sf of retail and the rest will come on line in the three subsequent phases.

Plans call for a series of streetscapes, waterfront parks and an improved street network. As part of the development plan, primary thoroughfares Middlesex Street and Frank E. Rodgers Boulevard will be widened with new landscaped islands and Middlesex will be extended to the river to create waterfront access.

Harrison Commons is being designed by planners Torti Gallas and Partners and Minno & Wasko Architects. The overall architectural theme for the mix of four- to 15-story buildings is described by the designers as, “a modern take on the late-19th century style” found in neighboring cities Hoboken, Jersey City and Newark.

Pegasus, Applied and Canyon Johnson are the site’s designated redeveloper by the Harrison Redevelopment Agency. The project is part of a larger redevelopment plan by officials of this city of 50,000 residents that includes Advance Realty Group’s MetroCentre project.

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