BELLEVILLE, NJ - One of the largest unused properties in northeastern Essex County is set to be converted into a multipurpose mixed-use development complex.
At 11 Franklin Avenue in Belleville, at the southwest corner of Mill Street, a nearly 19-acre lot sits vacant. Surrounded by Branch Brook Park, Clara Maass Medical Center, and several single family houses, state records show that the gated property was home to a Roche Diagnostics and Roche Molecular Systems facility beginning in 1975, and has been used for industrial purposes since the 19th century.The Belleville Copper Rolling Mill and a Jergens manufacturing facility were also once located there. In fact, though not operational for many years, a rail spur ran onto the property using a train trestle over Mill Street, though it was demolished in 2016, according to Bridgehunter.
Although Hoffmann-La Roche, the divisions’ parent organization, was once one of Essex County’s largest employers, with thousands working at this property and in neighboring Nutley, in the last few decades, the Switzerland-based company has scaled back its American presence, closing both facilities in the process. In 2010, the main building on the Belleville tract was demolished.
Then, in October 2015, the site was acquired from Roche for $1.25 million by TFJ Belleville, LLC, a Rochelle Park, Bergen County-based company that is registered out of the offices of Tulfra Real Estate, according to NJ Parcels records. Now, Tulfra and Hampshire Real Estate Companies are moving forward with plans to transform the property into a “productive 500,000 sf master-planned, mixed-use project that our community will be proud of” called Park 11.
When completed, according to the project website, the development is slated to include a hotel with 125 rooms, 151 parking spaces, and a 50-seat restaurant, as well as a pharmacy, a four-story office building, and retail space. Tulfra’s website shows that there could also possibly be a bakery and coffee house, and that the project is expected to generate $1 million in property taxes, up from the current $60,000, and will create 150-300 jobs. Plus, according to NorthJersey.com, the Belleville Planning Board "readopted an amendment to the Roche Diagnostic Redevelopment Plan" during a meeting in May to permit the development of "a service station, convenience store, and self-storage facility" as well on the premises.
It is not yet clear when construction will begin on the Park 11 project.