2003 Public/Private Partnership Awards

Cherokee Investment Partners, LLC, Cherokee/OENJ Cherokee Corporation and the City of Elizabeth, NJ: OENJ Cherokee's Metro Center

When the 1.3 million square foot Jersey Garden mall opened in October, 1999 at OENJ Cherokee's Elizabeth Metro Center, few people realized the 200 store mall rested on over one million cubic yards of treated, contaminated dredged material from New York Harbor.

This innovative public -private partnership worked to achieve more than 20 permits in one year, two to three years earlier than usual. OENJ negotiated the State's first Memorandum of Agreement with the State's Department of Environmental Protection and achieved the State's first covenant not to sue. These accomplishments helped pave the way for formalizing New Jersey's coordinated permit process and enacting the Brownfields Law in 1998. During the course of the project, the State created the Landfill Reclamation Act to initiate assessment of a 3% franchise fee on goods sold at the mall and to allow the State to issue revenue bonds, backed by the mall developer. These paid for remediation and infrastructure costs.

A public-private task force developed a regional transportation planning committee which secured over $100 million in new transportation infrastructure to access the site and continues to meet to plan for area wide transportation improvements.

Jersey Gardens Mall has yielded $3.6 million per year in property tax revenue as well as 1,700 construction jobs and more than 4,000 permanent jobs, the majority of which were created through the malls retail skills center.

In the three years since the mall opened, it has spurred adjacent development of 2,000 hotel rooms and associated infrastructure. There are plans to build a700,000 square feet of office space and a light rail and ferry service along the waterfront. This innovative project has improved the quality of life for residents and set new standards for management, environmental clean up and sustainable economic development.

The OENJ Cherokee Metro Center project earned OENJ Cherokee Corporation and the City of Elizabeth an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Mayors Business Council in 2002. For more information, contact Linda P. Morgan, Senior Vice President, Cherokee/OENJ Cherokee; 201.377;9324; lmorgan@oenj-cherokee.com or JoAnn Malone, City of Elizabeth, 908.820.4172; jmalone@elizabethnj.org.