HACKENSACK—NAI James E. Hanson represented United Water New Jersey Inc. in a deal that will preserve the largest remaining undeveloped property in Weehawken as a new public park.
NAI Hanson senior vice president Andrew Somple, SIOR, and director of capital markets Gregory M. James oversaw the $11-million transaction on behalf of United Water. The utility had approached NAI Hanson in early 2010 about exploring sale opportunities for the 14.4-acre reservoir site. Although zoned for high-density residential use, United Water had not used the property since 1996.
After marketing the property to prospective buyers, United Water received four offers on the property from developers that hoped to build multifamily projects on the site. Negotiations were just beginning when, in the summer of 2010, the Township of Weehawken expressed a strong interest in preserving the site, according to Somple.
To complete this transaction, The Trust for Public Land — a national conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens and natural areas — facilitated the acquisition of the reservoir and recently conveyed the property to Weehawken, Union City and the State of New Jersey's Green Acres Program.
The property will be transformed into a passive public park, enhanced with a walking and running trail. Portions of the reservoir will continue to function as a water storage facility, and United Water will retain an easement to construct and maintain a 10-million-gallon underground water storage tank located beneath the future park.
The reservoir, surrounded by a thin strip of land, is located on Weehawken’s border with Union City, and will be maintained by both municipalities.
To fund the purchase, the Township of Weehawken received a New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust loan of approximately $8.7 million. The New Jersey Green Acres program, part of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, contributed $2 million, while Weehawken and Union City contributed $168,000 each.