SAYREVILLE, N.J. — O’Neill Properties Group has broken ground and is under development on The Point, an 8 million square-foot mixed-use project in Sayreville. After closing on the 453-acre site in October 2008, the company worked with numerous agencies to gain the necessary environmental approvals in 2009 and 2010, sorting out all the issues on the former brownfield to break ground and start remediation work in February 2011.

“The deal for the land went through at more than $100 million at a time when real estate development closings of that magnitude were just not happening,” says Brian O’Neill, Jr., senior project manager for O’Neill Properties Group. “That fact speaks to the fundamental strength this site has — it’s a home run.”

Located at 100 Chevalier Ave., approximately 30 miles from Manhattan and minutes from Staten Island, the site stretches three miles of waterfront along the Raritan River. Development plans include retaining 74 acres of protected wetlands, and wind and solar farms are planned on an additional 14 acres.

The Point is surrounded by one of the busiest intersections in the United States, just off the New Jersey Turnpike, Garden State Parkway, U.S. Route 9 and NJ Route 35, and close to I-287 and Route 440. More than 450,000 cars pass the site daily; over 650,000 pass per day in the summer months. In addition, there will be regular train and bus service available.

“The Point is the definition of a successful public-private partnership,” says O’Neill. “There have been a lot of moving parts, and this project touches every aspect of the public sector. It couldn’t be done without all those parties working together.”

The development itself is centered upon a 3 million-square-foot fortress mall and entertainment district including luxury retail, waterfront and recreation destinations. O’Neill is currently underway on Phase One, The Landing at The Point, which will encompass 620,000 square feet of high-end, multi-purpose retail. Bass Pro Shops signed a letter of intent this week for a 200,000-square-foot space within the development.

“This is a world class site, and we want to make sure it’s a world class retail destination; probably every a single form of retail will be represented at the Point by the time we’re done,” says O’Neill. “Right now we’re concentrating on larger anchors, and Bass Pro is an excellent fit.”

“We are excited to be a part of this project with our largest store in the Northeast,” added Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops, who personally negotiated with the principals of The Point. “Our initial search was for a 150,000-square-foot location, but we concluded that the demand for high-end retail in the region is far greater than originally anticipated.”

The remainder of Phase One will include additional big box stores, a supermarket, a health club and entertainment destinations. The first retail tenant is expected to open in 2013.

Beyond that, the remaining phases will build out with 2,000 high-end residential units (ranging from 3,000-square-foot waterfront brownstones to 1,800-square-foot two-story townhomes), 650,000 square feet of office space, high end hotels and two luxury marinas. The Point will also feature waterfront dining, a community center, bike trails, walking paths, and abundant green and open space including a waterfront promenade.

The Mall at The Point, a 2.2 million-square-foot super regional mall and outdoor entertainment center, is currently in the planning stages, and O’Neill Properties is in the process of selecting a development partner for that phase. Expected to have up to five luxury fashion department stores, a number of junior anchors, and dozens of other retail stores as well as multiple restaurants, The Mall at The Point will include latest technologies to facilitate customer shopping experience; synchronized outdoor LED media towers for brand advertising and messaging; and large outdoor HD screens broadcasting live sporting events, concerts and other entertainment. The interior will be built based on environmentally friendly principles, with two- and three-story indoor streetscapes. In fact, the project as a whole will utilize green building construction throughout.

With a project of this scope, an official completion date is not set, but O’Neill says he expects in total a 10-year build-out. Upon full completion, more than 30 million visitors are expected annually. The estimated development cost for The Point is approximately $2 billion.

— Dan Marcec

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