LINDEN – Demolition crews have finished clearing the site of the former General Motors assembly plant, making way for a new industrial and retail park that city leaders hope will play a key role in Linden’s renaissance.
At one time, the GM plant was one of Linden’s signature industries, employing thousands of workers for decades until in closed three years ago. Indianapolis-based Duke Realty Corp. purchased the property from GM for $76.5 million and workers from the demolition company Testa Corp. began deconstructing the site in February.
The demolition of the 2.7 million square-foot automotive plant along Routes 1 & 9 was supposed to take a year, but it was completed in August far ahead of schedule.
The preliminary plans for the site include 36 acres of retail space facing Routes 1 & 9, with two major anchor stores and two smaller chain stores, along with restaurants and other retailers and outdoor parking. Another 59 acres, facing Linden Avenue, will be set aside for industrial/warehouse use. Approximately 6.7 acres will be used for a medical office building, officials said. A pair of multi-story senior housing building are also being considered for the site.
Mayor Richard Gerbounka has called the GM site the first component in “Linden’s renaissance,” which will include developing long-vacant industrial properties around the city, along with residential construction near the railroad station to lure commuters.
If the site is developed with the planned retail/industrial mix, city officials estimate that 3,700 jobs will be created.
Traffic congestion remains a concern. Routes 1 & 9 already see heavy traffic. Councilman Gene Davis has already expressed concern about the impact of the new development. Gerbounka said that Duke Realty engineers will study key intersections around the location to identify potential problems and offer solutions.
The next phase of development is site and soil remediation, which will be done with the state Department of Environmental Protection. The process, which will be undertaken in phases, should take six months, Duke representatives said.
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