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American Shipper

N.Y.-N.J. port authority acquires 130 acres

N.Y.-N.J. port authority acquires 130 acres

   The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said Thursday it has agreed to purchase about 130 acres at the former Military Ocean Terminal, Bayonne (MOTBY), a prime piece of waterfront property on New York’s Upper Bay.

   The port has tentatively agreed to pay the City of Bayonne’s local redevelopment authority $235 million over 24 years to obtain title to the Hudson River property together with permanent easements over the roadways on the MOTBY peninsula.

   The Bayonne authority voted Thursday evening to authorize the deal.

   Not only would the acquisition add 4.5 percent to the port authority’s total port acreage on both sides of the Hudson River, it is east of — and therefore unaffected by — the Bayonne Bridge, which with 151 feet of clearance at high tide is seen as an increasingly important obstacle as ships get larger. The port said it expects that to become a more pressing issue when the Panama Canal expansion is completed in 2014.

   The port authority said it is committed to finding a solution to the Bayonne Bridge problem and earlier this week, said it was fast-tracking a review of environmental issues to help speed modification or replacement of the Bayonne Bridge.

   But some see development of additional container facilities in Bayonne or at the nearby Global Terminal in Jersey City as a possible short-term fix to keep the New York competitive with other East Coast ports until the Bayonne Bridge is fixed.

   New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie hailed the deal as one that “will enhance future business opportunities and help spur job creation.'

   The port authority said no decision has been made yet on how to redevelop the parcel, but the agency's action will lock in the land for port use and preclude other development.

   Bayonne's decision to sell the property to the port authority and allow it to be used as a marine terminal is a stunning turn of events.

   When the Army decided to close the facility in 1995 and gave it to Bayonne, many were surprised that the redevelopment agency planned a mixed-use development that included housing units on the artificial peninsula that juts out into New York terminal, instead of using the property for maritime industrial use.

   In September 2007, the redevelopment agency agreed to sell a different 153-acre parcel (94 acres are on land, the rest under water) to the port authority. Then terminal operator Ports America bettered the port authority by offering $90 million, and Bayonne agreed to sell it to the private terminal operator.

   Bayonne had restricted Ports America to using the facility for roll-on/roll-off cargo, but there was no indication that the latest sale came with strings attached.

   Last month, the agency also approved a plan to purchase and redevelop Greenville rail yard just north of MOTBY. The port plans to use it to handle both freight containers and containers carrying municipal waste from New York City. ' Chris Dupin

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