Raritan Center, New Jersey
Raritan Center, located about 20 km from the terminals of the port
of New York and along the I-95 interstate is a major concentration of
logistics activities. With 950 hectares, 3,000 tenants and 15,000 people
employed it counts among the largest planned freight zone
on the North American East Coast. Like several logistics zones in North America, it
is a reconversion of former military land (ammunition depot) that was
used from the First World War until it was sold to private interests
in 1964. It now belongs to Federal Business Centers and Summit Associates.
The initial goal of the promoters was to develop light manufacturing
activities, but the advantages of the site for freight distribution
(such as its adjacency to the most important highway in the United States
and its proximity to the Port of New York) rapidly changed the orientation
towards freight distribution. The northern part of the site along the
I-95 has seen the development of several commercial activities such
as hotels, office space, convention centers, restaurants, daycare and
personal services. This confers a substantial service support function
for the logistic activities, including the workers. Raritan Center
is directly adjacent to the I-95 with a direct access ramp,
therefore limiting local circulation impacts. Additionally, a
college campus is adjacent to the site. Therefore, the cluster can be
considered as a full fledged freight village.
Rail development represents one of the priorities of the promoters
as the site is currently served by bulk rail for specific tenants (plastics,
construction materials, flour, etc.). A railway company, Raritan Central
Railway, was created in 2001 to promote this initiative. It also serves
the nearby privately owned Heller Industrial Park. The main goal is
to establish direct short line intermodal services, known as Raritan
Express, between the logistics zone and the container terminals of the
Bay of Newark (Maher Terminals, APM Terminals and PNCT). One of the
main advantages is that the rail infrastructure already exists and what
is required is the construction of an intermodal yard, punctual improvements
to connect specific rail segments and the purchase (or location) of
equipment. The idea is to create a system somewhat similar to the Alameda
corridor in Los Angeles / Long Beach, but at a much lower cost since
no massive infrastructure investments are required. Raritan Center
would become a satellite terminal for the Port of New York.
There is also an abandoned pier which is planned to be upgraded for
the use of short sea shipping (RO-RO), a project labeled Port Raritan.
If this comes to fruition, Raritan Center would be one of North America's few trimodal centers.
Raritan Center is therefore a mature freight zone that went through
since its inception an ongoing transformation to offer a complete array
of services supporting directly and indirectly freight distribution.
Even if there is still ample space available for expansion, much of
this space is subject to environmental constraints (marshland and littoral
areas) making other logistical sites more attractive and less costly.
Promoters are aiming at intermodal rail services and proximity to port
terminal facilities to attract new activities willing to pay higher
rent for such a strategic convenience.