Hartz Mountain Industrial Site in Harrison, NJ. Photo: Vera / DailyHarrison.com
Rising from the ashes of the derelict Hartz Mountain site, Harrison Station stands to be the crown jewel in Heller Industrial Parks, Inc. burgeoning residential development portfolio. Demolition on the site began a few months ago, lead by the same crew who demolished Giants’ Stadium. When the finally dust settles and construction is complete, a vast mixed-use “transit village” will sit on the 10.5 acre site.
Already a formidable presence in the world of industrial development, Heller’s roots actually run quite deep in Harrison. The company’s founder, Isaac Heller, built his first project here in town, a 750,000 square foot factory for his maiden business venture Remco Toys in the 1950s. A major toymaker in the Fifties and Sixties, Remco began life across the river in Newark before Heller and his business partner cousin Saul Robbins made the move to Harrison. Part of the old Remco Factory sits adjacent to the Red Bulls Stadium.
When Remco changed hands and Heller was contemplating retirement, Harrison Mayor Frank Rodgers, enlisted his help to build a factory for Owens Corning. Soon, Heller became the go-to-man for companies who wanted to build factories in Harrison and Heller Construction Company, Inc was born, counting businesses like HJ Heinz and Dunlop Tires among its early clients. Today, Heller Industrial Parks, Inc. stands as one of the largest privately held real estate development companies in the country.
The company is guided by Ike Heller’s common-sense philosophy toward business. Heller believed in treating his real estate clients like customers and was adamant that projects should be well-conceived and constructed from start to finish. When the Daily Harrison spoke with Heller Industrial Park, Inc. President Jeffery Milanaik it was clear that the company is excited about Harrison’s future and Heller’s huge part in that future.
Milanaik believes that the redevelopment of Harrison will contribute to the “greater good of the community and sited Heller’s deep roots in the town as one of the reasons why Harrison Station is an important endeavor for his company. Milanaik revealed that the new buildings will maintain elements of the 19th and 20th century industrial aesthetic to harken back to Harrison’s industrial past. It will also have what he called “a neighborhood feel” complete with one story buildings featuring large stoops and communal outdoor space. Phase I of the project will be on the north-side of the property and Phases II and III will be completed on the east-side. The three phases will also house 23,000 square feet of retail space. Heller will also be developing a two-block retail area where The Essex Car Wash currently stands.
The demolition of the Hartz Mountain site will be complete by the end of this year, marking the next phase in the redevelopment process that Heller began way back in 2002. “This process has been exciting, but extremely long,” said Milanaik. Yet he continued, “After 25 years in the business I’ve never dealt with such a group of consummate professionals so openly,” referring to the consortium of developers and Harrison officials who make up the Harrison Community Development Association (HCDA). “We’re all in this together.”