Newark seeks bids for seaport development

The private sector is being tapped for ideas on what to do with an underused parcel.

The City of Newark, New Jersey, has invited the private sector to submit proposals for the development of an underutilised portion of its 957-acre seaport.

According to a notice announcing the request for expressions of interest and information (RFEII) on the city's website, ideas are being sought from “marine terminal operators, warehouse operators and developers, aviation-related businesses, real estate developers and property managers, and any other interested parties.”  

The city noted in its RFEII that it is open to a potential sale of the property or a long-term arrangement with a private manager as well as other “innovative and legally permissible transactions to monetise” the port. 

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey maintains a lease agreement of $12 million per year with the city through 2065. According to official solicitation documents, just under 200 acres of the 957-acre container and auto terminal remain undeveloped, since Port Authority only maintains subleases on 758 acres.  

While the most recent financial statement by the Port Authority shows that the port pulled in $80 million in revenue for 2014, operating expenses for the year reached $94 million.  

Newark Deputy Mayor Adofo-Wilson, whose focus is on housing and economic development, told the local press that the city believes bringing in a private owner or manager might help spur the Port Authority – which as yet has not developed a master plan for the port – to be “more efficient”, which would benefit Newark by boosting economic activity and creating jobs.

The 199-acre parcel is currently divided into several uses: 75 acres of public roads, 33 acres of rail, 22 acres of construction laydown area, 12 acres devoted to administration by the Port Authority, six acres for dredge staging and two acres for employee parking.

The port is home to 26,000 linear feet of deep water berthing space, serviced by intermodal rail that is connected to regional freight lines, terminals and connections. It is linked to the I-95 corridor by direct regional access roadways.

With the expansion of the Panama Canal and the raising of the Bayonne Bridge in order to allow post-Panamax ships to enter Port Newark – the largest for containers on the east coast – the city expects port traffic to increase by anywhere from 43 percent to 150 percent over the next 20 years. In the RFEII document, the city asserts that all water access will be dredged to 55 feet to accommodate the largest container ships.  

Port Authority was approached by Mayor Ras Baraka and asked to purchase the land that underlies its lease, but the agency declined the offer. Responses to the RFEII are due at Newark City Hall by 16 February, according to the notice.