New Jersey's Local Finance Board yesterday authorized a portion of Bayonne's mixed-use Peninsula Project New York Harbor for tax increment financing, the first step in gaining state approval for such borrowing.

The LFB designated three western sections of the 430-acre site, called the Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor, as revenue allocation districts. That decision allows the Bayonne Local Redevelopment Authority, which oversees the development, to craft financial plans that include TIFs, called RAD bonds in New Jersey.

Those detailed financing proposals require LFB approval as well and the authority may have a plan ready to submit to the board within the next three months, according to Joe Baumann, bond attorney at McManimon & Scotland LLC, which is BLRA's bond counsel.

The LFB, which is part of the state's Department of Community Affairs, approves municipal borrowing and city and county budgets within New Jersey.

The three approved areas are the 125-acre Maritime Industrial District, the 102-acre Harbor Station, and the 65-acre Bayonne Bay District.

The maritime district will include a roll-on roll-off vehicle port owned by Ports America, and houses the U.S. Coast Guard and harbor patrol.

Harbor Station, the westernmost section of the peninsula, links the land to the city of Bayonne and will contain low-to-mid-rise housing, retail development and office space, among other facilities. Fidelco Bayonne Realty and Roseland Properties are the lead developers in that section.

The Bayonne Bay area, just east of Harbor Station, will include residential development, a waterfront park, and a golf course. Bayonne Bay Developers and Trammell Crow Residential will construct housing development in Bayonne Bay.

BLRA officials originally were seeking to gain RAD approval on the entire neck of land, yet chose to decrease the request to just the three districts as they have developers attached to the projects, according to Baumann. The authority will begin reviewing requests for qualifications and proposals on the three remaining parcels soon as the deadline for those submissions is Friday.

"The districts that we submitted the application for consisted of all six districts," Baumann said. "We've had a dialogue with the [DCA] staff over the past month and I think what the staff was recommending and what we agreed to do is to amend our ordinance to just include the current three districts where we have contracts. And then we can come back and ask for an expansion of the districts as soon as we have projects to go into the other districts, which will hopefully be relatively soon, because Friday we begin to get some of our responses back to our RFQ/RFP process for the rest of the districts."

Once it is built out, the Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor will include two million square feet of commercial space and 6,000 residential units, along with industrial port business and a cruise-ship terminal. The site is a former naval base.

In addition to Bayonne's RAD application, the LFB approved up to $68 million of new-money borrowing for the Newark Housing Authority. That transaction will involve the authority issuing the bonds on behalf of the city, with Newark's general obligation pledge securing the debt. The city will then make payments to the authority to cover debt service costs on the bonds.

The bond proceeds will support the construction of a new police station in Newark's South Ward, an area designated as a redevelopment area within the city. The new facility will help city officials address crime with new state-of-the-art equipment and expanded jail space, according to LFB documents.

"Since the authority is the designated redeveloper of the redevelopment area, is overseeing the various redevelopment projects in such redevelopment area, has a wealth of experience in undertaking the construction of large facilities in an expeditious and cost-effective manner, and owns the land, the authority is undertaking the construction of the police facility on behalf of the city," LFB documents said.

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