HUDSON COUNTY, NJ - With plans to build a gas-powered generating plant on the former Kopper’s Koke property in Kearny on the back burner, county officials are now looking forward to the future of the long dormant site that finally puts its ownership in someone else’s hands.

Last month the Hudson County Improvement Authority (HCIA) announced that they have closed on a transaction that is expected to see The Morris Companies build high tech warehousing on about 110 acres of the 130-acre site. 

Shelving plans to construct the facility that was to serve as a backup system for its vast electric train system in case of an emergency such as the 2012 Superstorm Sandy, NJ Transit has said that they are considering options to redirect the funding for this project to seek environmentally friendly power options, even though in the past, the agency had argued the site was too small to accommodate wind and solar farms.

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The proposed 140 megawatt plant that drew the ire of environmentalists, was seen as one of the cornerstones of the NJ TransitGrid Project which received a $546 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration.

The plant would have been located on a peninsula on the Hackensack River, serving to electrify the tracks and operating controls on NJ Transit’s Hudson Bergen Light Rail system, as well as portions of the Morris & Essex line and Northeast Corridor.

For Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise, the sale of the site is something that has been in the works for 18 years, and even longer if you consider its ownership since the 1980s. It also takes a major burden off the county’s coffers, he said, as taxpayers have long footed the debt service for loans the county had previously taken against it. The full use of the site going forward, he said, is something for the buyers, environmentalists, and state officials to resolve.

Noting that until recently, the county owed about $100 million on the site, which included contamination clean-up cost, most of which was recovered by the sale to Morris Companies and NJ Transit, Freeholder Bill O’Dea was also glad to have the deal completed.

“We got back what we owed,” he said.

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