NJ warehouse boom continues: Not everyone is celebrating
Online shopping keeps growing in popularity and as a result New Jersey’s ongoing warehouse boom is continuing, but not everybody is thrilled about it.
According to data from the commercial real estate firm Newmark, demand for warehouse space near ports in North Jersey is outpacing supply, and as a result new warehouses are being built in Central and even some areas in South Jersey.
“Just the impact of the COVID pandemic and the way it changed our consumer habits are now leading to a proliferation of warehouses in areas that traditionally you wouldn’t view as a location for a warehouse," Mike Cerra, the executive director of the New Jersey League of Municipalities, said.
He said that means local planning officials who have never had to deal with this issue are suddenly getting applications to build these structures.
Why warehouses can be a big problem
Cerra said new warehouse construction has raised “environmental concerns, traffic impacts, in some cases in some communities they’ve been proposed in farmland areas, residential neighborhoods.”
Tim Evans, the director of research for New Jersey Future, said when warehouses are constructed in smaller towns, “the trucks generate noise and pollution and they impose damage on roadways.”
“Places that never had warehouses before are getting them," he said. "They’re generally getting smaller ones but generally they’re something they haven’t had to deal with before.”
Running out of room
He predicted in the coming months and years, we can expect the warehouse boom to continue.
“It’s creeping farther down the New Jersey Turnpike into Burlington County now, and now they’re starting to look at locations of former office parks along the 287 corridor,” he said.
He noted part of the reason the demand for warehouse space is growing is that the port complex in Newark, Elizabeth and Bayonne has become the second busiest in the country (after the port of Los Angeles) and goods from ships are being stored in larger warehouses nearby, which means smaller warehouse facilities in Central and South Jersey are needed to handle other products.
Cerra said each town is dealing with this issue on their own.
“I think we’re going to see some guidance documents coming from maybe the state planning commission in the upcoming weeks and months, which should help inform decision making on the local level," he said.
“We’re not pro-warehouses; we’re not anti-warehouses. We just want to make sure that towns can say yes to projects that are good, and say no to projects that are not so good.”