As more and more consumers shop online, companies feeling the pressure to cut delivery times are resorting to regional warehouses.
Now Linden city officials expect to reap a huge tax benefit from that trend through a project from an international development company that will build 2.8 million square feet of warehousing on a former industrial site that has been vacant for nearly 20 years.
Goodman Birtcher, an Austrialia-based company with offices in the United States, received city approval earlier this month to construct five large warehouse buildings on the 143 acres of the former GAF property.
"With this development, companies will be putting the products closer to the consumer," said Brandon Birtcher, CEO of the development company.
Work on the estimated $350 million project is expected to begin next year. When finished in five years, the project will yield between 2,000 and 3,000 full-time jobs.
Mayor Richard Gerbounka estimates the completed project could generate an additional $5 million to $6 million in annual tax revenue.
"This is going to make a major in difference to Linden and to Union County. I'm very excited," Gerbounka said.
He said the city was in discussions with Goodman Birtcher for more than a year.
Late last October, Gerbounka said he and representatives from the development company met with Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, who outlined incentives for companies that occupy the new warehouse complex.
Birtcher lauded Linden officials for having "a strong vision of what the city should look like in 20 years."
He said his company's warehouse projects typically attract tenants who sign leases of 10 years or more. Those tenants range from suppliers of electrical components or appliances to groceries.
Goodman Birtcher has a large complex in California, with 6.2 million square-feet of warehouse development either completed or being planned. They also have complexes in Washington State and Pennsylvania.
Outside the U.S., Goodman Birtcher owns or manages large complexes in Europe and Asian Pacific countries.
Birtcher said the company is looking at other sites in northern New Jersey for additional complexes.
The proposed Linden complex will serve the Newark and Manhattan areas.
Gerbounka said Birtcher saw opportunity for warehouse development following the raising of the Bayonne Bridge. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is sponsoring the $1.3 billion project to raise the roadway on the bridge 64 feet, creating a clearance of 215 feet above the Kill van Kull at high tide.
This project, authority officials have said, was necessary to allow larger container ships to get to terminals in Newark, Elizabeth and Staten Island.
Business leaders anticipate a shortage of storage space to handle the influx of shipping.
To complete the deal, Goodman Birtcher and ISP, the successor to GAF, agreed to pay for an overpass crossing a rail line leading to the industrial site. Trains still use the line to supply a company in neighboring Carteret.
Gerbounka credited Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Rep. Donald Payne (D-10th Dist.) with helping negotiate the agreement for the overpass.