SECAUCUS, NJ-NJ Transit’s four-year-old, $600-million, 312,000-sf Secaucus Junction Train Station has been criticized since its inception because it lacks a major component–parking. Current NJ DOT commissioner Kris Kolluri has publicly criticized that planning decision as, “a mistake.”

But that may change. A proposal has been floated to build a 1,100-space parking lot about 100 yards from the terminal, which state officials have previously said was designed to be a junction for existing commuter rail lines rather than a park-and-ride station. The parking proposal came from the Newark-based Edison Properties, which specializes in parking facilities.

Edison owns a 6.8-acre site at 675 New County Rd., just across the New Jersey Turnpike from the terminal, which is known officially as the Frank R. Lautenberg Rail Station. The site, directly accessible to the station via an underpass, currently holds a vacant 155,000-sf warehouse building, which Edison has had on the market for lease or several months.

What Edison proposes to do, according to company president Jerry Gottesman, is tear down the existing building and replace it with the parking lot. He estimates that it will cost $5 million to complete the project, which would include the demolition, site work, fencing and utility work.

A plan has been in the works for some time for a mixed-use project around and atop the station by a local group called Allied Junction Corp. In mid-2006, Allied Junction reportedly had a deal to sell the 28 surrounding acres and development rights to the New York City-based Brookfield Properties. The plan would have added substantial parking to the site, but the project has been stalled with no signs of movement.

“It will be a long time before you see any construction at the station,” Gottesman says, offering his parking lot proposal as an alternative. He’s hired the consulting firm of Warrington, Fox & Shuffler to oversee the planning and approval, and commissioner Kolluri, on behalf of the administration of Gov. Jon Corzine, has voiced public support for the proposal.

Before it can come to fruition, the proposal must clear a number of approval hurdles. The New Jersey Meadowlands Commission is reportedly reviewing a preliminary application, and the Hackensack Meadowlands Municipal Committee and Meadowlands Commission Board must still be heard from.

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