Another ‘Gateway project’ — this one in Perth Amboy — aims to create hundreds of jobs, add $1M in tax revenue

City begins demolition of Smith Street buildings at foot of Route 35 Victory Bridge, site of planned $110M warehouse project

Perth Amboy officials assembled Tuesday at a construction site on Smith Street, where old, tired buildings are being demolished to make way for the long-awaited Gateway project at the foot of the Route 35 Victory Bridge.

The redevelopment project comes after years of underutilization and contamination on properties in the redevelopment area, a large swath of developable property near Route 440 and other major highways, Mayor Helmin Caba and leaders of the Perth Amboy Redevelopment Agency said.

The redeveloper, Viridian Partners of Denver, will invest more than $110 million to acquire, clean and stabilize contaminated parcels of land between the Route 35 Victory Bridge, Smith Street and Riverside Drive.

The first step in this 44-acre project will be the demolition of a boarded-up structure at 535 Smith St.

Caba said the moment is long overdue.

“This key entrance to our city, once tarnished by decay, is now the focal point of our redevelopment efforts,” he said. “With the collaboration of Viridian Partners and the Perth Amboy Redevelopment Agency, we are starting to witness the transformation of this critical area into a thriving, dynamic hub.”

Caba noted redevelopment is not merely about erasing the remains of the past; it’s about crafting a legacy for future generations, creating a destination that will draw visitors and investment from far and wide. The collective vision is to transform the area into a vibrant, mixed-use space that reflects the spirit and aspirations of Perth Amboy.

PARA Executive Director Tashilee Vazquez said the agency has plenty of projects in the pipeline, as investors are noting the New Jersey Transit train station in the downtown, a picturesque marina and a robust public transportation system, she said.

The Viridian project, once completed, is expected to generate more than 400 long-term jobs and more than $1 million in local tax revenue. As part of the plan, more than 9 acres of land abutting the Smith Street business corridor will be remediated and “pad ready” for the city at no cost.  Perth Amboy officials will decide how best to redevelop the land.

The mayor said the city will prepare a Request for Proposals to invite developers, visionaries and innovators to share ideas for the 9 acres, seeking proposals that will meet current needs and inspire future developments.

In addition, Viridian Partners will remediate and improve an additional 9 acres of land for Perth Amboy residents’ passive recreation, including natural areas surrounding Sonnaman’s Creek, with trails leading to a gazebo on a hill to be constructed overlooking the Raritan River.

About 25 acres will be used to construct a one-story, 471,000-square-foot, Class A, state-of-the-art warehouse.

Trucks accessing the warehouse must use Riverview Drive via its intersection at Smith Street to minimize traffic in business and residential areas. In addition, berms, buffer landscaping and other natural screens will be used to minimize the impacts of the warehouse development.

Perth Amboy Housing Authority Executive Director Doug Dzema, who runs the nonprofit PARTNER program, said the city has been working since 2014 to revitalize and redevelop the Gateway neighborhood, focusing on enhancing housing and economic opportunities.

Michael Cahn, a principal with Viridian Partners, said the firm seeks environmentally distressed properties near the New Jersey Turnpike and other major highways.

“What excites us about the Gateway project is its phenomenal proximity to highways; it is a perfect fit for our model of remediating complex properties,” Cahn said. “We are eager to move forward with Mayor Caba and PARA, breathing new life into the entire neighborhood and directly addressing a blighted eyesore awaiting redevelopment for decades.”

The site formerly housed a roofing company that manufactured asbestos shingles, closing a quarter-century ago. Viridian Partners has been working with the city since 2014 to create the overall plan for the vast, complex site; it requires the developer to assemble 28 parcels to comply with the redeveloper’s agreement.

Dzema also announced a $400,000 award from New Jersey’s Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit program, affirming trust in the city’s ability to drive transformative development, improve housing, stimulate economic growth and enhance the quality of life.