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A Once Unpopular Apartment Plan Comes Closer to Development in North Bergen

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Vacant lot on 8619 Bergenline Avenue. Image via Google maps.

On Wednesday, August 24th, the North Bergen Zoning Board of Adjustment approved a redevelopment plan for the Bergenline Avenue block between 85th Street and 87th Street.

The properties for refurbishment are the James Vincent Bicycles store on 8505 Bergenline Avenue, Mariah Condominiums on 8515, and the vacant lot on 8619 where the restaurant Mundo Latino once stood.

The 5-story, 20-unit Mariah apartment building, has stood since 1950. There have been reports of nonoperating essential utilities such as heat and hot water. The elevator in the residential building has been nonfunctional for many years, and the complex has violated multiple fire safety ordinances for over a year.

North Bergen had to pay for the repairs of the building’s chimney and boiler due to negligence from the owners of the building. The cost of these repairs accrued $30,000 as liens, a claim made against a property by a contractor or subcontractor which has not been paid for work done on the property against the owners. Another lien of $100,000 against the property owners is owed to the North Bergen Municipal Utilities Authority due to failure to pay for water fees.

One of the properties in the Zoning Board’s plan is the vacant lot on 8619 Bergenline Avenue. The unfilled property was approved for a 10-story building with two floors for commercial space, garage parking, and upper-level residential units. 

Former North Bergen mayoral candidate Larry Wainstein led a strong opposition against the development of the 8619 building back in 2018. In the packed chambers of the North Bergen Municipal building four years ago, Wainstein exclaimed at former Zoning Board Chairman, “This project is absurd. The integrity of North Bergen is going to be affected by this project. Vainieri, this project that you’re looking to approve is criminal – just like you’re destroying the rest of North Bergen.”

The recently elected Chairman of the Hudson County Democratic Organization, Chief of Staff to North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco, and Chairman on the Board of Hudson County Commissioners later responded to the prospective mayor’s accusations.

“The Vaineri family has no development in this town, whatsoever, in the world: so you’re a liar again, number 1. Number 2, you came to this board for a 12-story building on Tonnelle Avenue years ago. No, you can’t answer. You came before this board for a 12-story building, so you’re a phony, you’re a fake, and you’re a liar to these residents: you’re a developer too. You just think you can pay everybody to come here to our meeting to chant and clap for you: you’re an idiot! You’re ridiculous! See this chair: You’ll never be in it.”

The redevelopment plan for the 85th and 86th street blocks is not recorded on North Bergen’s public meeting agenda or minutes.

Two years ago, during the COVID-19 pandemic, North Bergen replaced the parallel parking spaces on the east side of Bergenline with head-in angled parking, thus creating more spots.

Undergraduate in economics becoming the Peter Singer, Christopher Hitchens, and Thomas Sowell of Hudson County journalism.

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