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Forum Roundup: Cities, Redevelopers Join Forces To Tackle Floodproofing, Sewer Upgrades

#Featured Articles,
#Climate Resilience,
#Green Infrastructure/Stormwater Management
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Hackensack- CS Blog
Chris Sturm, Managing Director, Policy and Water, New Jersey Future

Cities are engaging redevelopers in a number of ways to meet the challenge of flooding, aging infrastructure and climate change, as described at New Jersey Future’s Redevelopment Forum session on Rebuilding Water Infrastructure, One Redevelopment Project at a Time. Speakers from Hackensack, Hoboken and Gloucester City described how they are shaping redevelopment plans, redevelopment agreements and land development ordinances to include construction and financing of water infrastructure. They also shared plans for multi-faceted projects with parks, walkways and streetscapes that all soak up stormwater and are funded via multiple revenue streams, including parking revenues, county and state open-space grants, sewer hook-up fees and streetscape funds.

With Redevelopment Plans and Agreements, ‘Infrastructure Can Be Sexy’

The pedestrian mall in the Banta Place redevelopment project in downtown Hackensack is designed to retain stormwater and reduce combined sewer overflows.

That’s what Hackensack City Manager David Troast claimed as he described inviting mixed-use projects like Banta Place and 150 River St. that include planted areas, pervious pavement andother features that retain rainfall on-site. To help finance public water infrastructure projects like the new Atlantic Street Park and more traditional sewer and stormwater separations, the city offers developers more favorable (i.e., longer-term) PILOTs in exchange for greater financial contributions. Troast advised towns to lay the groundwork for integrating redevelopment and infrastructure by 1) establishing the vision and plans for redevelopment; 2) assessing infrastructure needs; and 3) getting their fiscal house in order.

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Green infrastructure will manage stormwater on the 121-acre Southport area in Gloucester City that is being redeveloped for industrial use. Wetlands, living shorelines and public access will green the site.

For Gloucester City, exciting infrastructure means redeveloping 110 acres of highly-contaminated industrial land along the Delaware River with the environment in mind. Jeffrey Dey of Resource Renewal LLC is designing the site to ensure all of the rainwater is kept “off the grid,” rather than adding to the city’s combined sewer flows. Elevating the site, which will continue in industrial use, and sealing drainage pipes from tidal inflows will improve flood resilience. New and improved wetlands, a living shoreline, and public access to the riverfront will make the site greener than before.

Hoboken Advances More “P4s”– Public Private Parks Partnerships

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According to the terms of Hoboken’s Bijou Jackson and 7th Redevelopment Agreement, Bijou Properties will construct a two-acre park, build a green roof and use low-flow fixtures, thus reducing combined sewer overflows by leveraging private funds.

Moderator Joe Maraziti noted that climate change and flooding represent “existential threats” for New Jersey’s coastal cities. And none are working harder to prepare than Hoboken. Community Development Director Brandy Forbes described the Bijou 7th and Jackson Redevelopment Agreement, pursuant to which the developer will construct and convey to the city a two-acre park that detains 300,000 gallons of stormwater and includes a gymnasium. The developer’s adjacent multi-family residential project will employ a green roof, and low-flow fixtures to reduce sewage generation. The project works for the developer’s bottom line in part because the park enhances the market value of Bijou’s new housing units. In addition, the city hired a third party to analyze the developer’s costs and revenues from the proposed project and then negotiated a mutually-agreeable PILOT agreement.

Forbes outlined other aspects of the city’s comprehensive approach to mitigating flooding and storm damage, including popular new green roof incentives, a flood damage prevention ordinance, and many green and gray infrastructure upgrades that comprise the Rebuild by Design project. She also described many new redevelopment plans and agreements with stormwater management features. In addition, the city is exploring the creation of an infrastructure trust fund that would collect contributions from redevelopers for infrastructure resiliency projects.

New Design Competition Offers Communities Help With Water Infrastructure Innovation

New Jersey Future is proud to sponsor the Build it Green (BIG) Competition to provide technical assistance and engineering support services to selected New Jersey cities and utilities to design innovative, financeable projects that reduce combined sewer outflows while also making neighborhoods and downtowns better places to live, work and invest.

For regular updates on water infrastructure innovation, visit the Jersey Water Works website, and sign up for the monthly newsletter.

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