Hartz Mountain submits Roxbury Commerce Center proposal creating open spaces, jobs and dollars

Roxbury Commerce Center rendering.

Secaucus-based Hartz Mountain Industries recently submitted an application to the Roxbury planning board, proposing to redevelop the former Hercules manufacturing site near Parsippany into a five-building, 2.5 million-square-foot commercial warehouse property.

Over half of the property will be made available to the public in the form of trails, parks and sport fields — with large portions of the property undeveloped. The project is a spec project with no particular prospective tenants.

Of the 820-acre site, only approximately 213 acres will be developed for commercial use. Approximately 500 acres will be preserved as open space. An additional 13 acres will be utilized to satisfy Roxbury’s required affordable housing obligation, based on the township’s 2020 legal settlement with the Fair Share Housing Center.

The five commercial buildings will measure 45 feet high and will not be visible from surrounding roads due to the unique topography of the site. In addition, the project won’t have significant traffic impacts to Howard Boulevard based on its design. All traffic will access the site via Howard Boulevard, but trucks will only be able to exit by right turns onto the northbound lanes toward Interstate 80. The project also complies with guidelines recently published by the State Planning Commission for warehouse development.

“Hartz is proud to put this proposal forward. It’s a unique opportunity to redevelop a former manufacturing site, bring significant new economic benefit to the area, add new open spaces for public use and have very little negative community impact,” James Rhatican, Hartz vice president of land use and assistant general counsel stated. “In fact, our expert study estimates over 1,100 jobs created during the construction phase, 1,200 ongoing permanent jobs during operation and over $4 million in new property tax revenues each year. Most of that will benefit Roxbury public schools.”

Among the 500 acres of preserved open space include:

  • 250 acres dedicated to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection for permanent preservation;
  • 75 acres across Berkshire Valley Road to potentially include a full-size football, soccer and baseball field;
  • Several acres along Route 46 for up to three soccer fields.

“Part of our mission is to collect community feedback on how best to design these open spaces, parks and fields to provide a product that is useful to the residents. We look forward to that dialogue. In fact, Hartz’s design of the project already integrates elements intended to address community concerns such as traffic and noise,” Rhatican added.

Hartz announced the launch of a website, RoxburyCommerceCenter.com, where residents can review the full application, examine the proposed renders and site plans, explore the community benefits and learn more about the proposal.

The Kenvil Works Facility previously occupied the property dating back to 1871, manufacturing dynamite and other explosives. Upon closing in 1996, Hercules spent several years demolishing over 325 buildings and more than 1 million square feet of foundations. Given its history, New Jersey regulators have identified it as a Tier 1 Contaminated Site for which brownfield redevelopment is encouraged.

The application was submitted to the planning board Aug. 18. The application will eventually be heard by the planning board at a public hearing. Members of the public will have the opportunity to comment on the application.