Millville signs deal for new plastics reprocessing facility
JOSEPH P. SMITH @JPSMITH_DJ
MILLVILLE – A long vacant and vandalized factory that was the centerpiece of a glass industry that provided jobs for generations soon may be back in use in a new manufacturing venture employing several hundred workers.
Mayor Michael Santiago on Wednesday night signed a conditional agreement with investors who hope to rebuild the former Wheaton Glass Co. property at 200 G Street into a plastics re-manufacturing facility. New construction and renovation is expected to combine to create almost 1 million square feet of building space.
The four-member investors group, operating as Millville Plastics, hosted a dinner before a signing ceremony for a five-page memorandum of understanding with the city. The Daily Journal obtained the agreement on Thursday from the city.
The agreement authorizes the sale of the property for $50,000 pending further negotiations over the next 120 days.
The agreement also allows for “remediation, rehabilitation and/or demolition of existing improvements and construction of new improvements.” Drawings of the proposed facility were released.
The agreement also states that both sides are to settle on a long-term payment in lieu of taxes agreement, or “PILOT” agreement.
The city and Millville Plastics, specifically partner Anthony DeSantis, also agree to end litigation in federal bankruptcy court involving the city and the property’s last owner, GGI Properties LLC. GGI lost the property to the city in a foreclosure action for unpaid taxes.
The agreement also calls on the developer to create about 300 jobs.
City officials attending, besides Santiago, included the rest of the City Commission, James Parent, Ashleigh Udalovas, Bruce Cooper, and Joseph Pepitone; Administrator Regina Burke; and Clerk Jeanne Hitchner.
Speakers included Cumberland County Freeholder Director Joseph Derella, a former Millville commissioner; and New Jersey Assemblymen Robert Andrzejczak and Bruce Land, both of the 1st Legislative District.
“This is a fantastic thing that is going to happen to the city of Millville,” Santiago said prior to the signing. “I can’t wait until that parking lot is filled like it is today, because you’re going to bring employment back to the city that’s been missing for many, many years. All I can say is I’m going to be right there with you, appreciating what you’ve done.”
The signing capped a dinner reception held at 1300 Wheaton Ave. That property also once was part of the Wheaton Glass factory complex.
The Millville Plastics partners at the signing, besides Anthony DeSantis, included Gary Porat and Concezio DeSantis. The fourth partner is Vincenzio Marcone.
At the outset, Anthony DeSantis explained the operating vision using a video of a similar facility the same group built and operates in the city of Santiago in the Dominican Republic. “Basically, I did what people said was impossible,” he said.
Before starting work in Santiago, DeSantis noted, the open landfill had been open to grazing animals and residents picking out recyclables by hand for sale.
“Now, this is a precursor to what we’re doing here,” DeSantis said. “In Millville, New Jersey, we have the processing of the plastic. So, this would be one of the sources. But, for example, this (Santiago operation) can be easily replicated in New Jersey, if we want to take that step.
“This plant pays for itself just from the recyclables,” he added. “This is where the value is. … Once you convert trash into an item that can be easily traded, you’ve created a commodity. We have HTPE, PET, aluminum, tin, cardboard, white paper, just to name a few of the items that are recyclable. And they’re traded on the open market. Now, Millville Plastics will purchase that item, in its clean form. So, this will be a clean operation.”
The Millville project still must secure Grow New Jersey program tax credits to complete its financing package, a necessary step also covered in the memorandum. That tax credit application will be filed shortly, according to Millville Plastics attorney Louis Magazzu.
Millville Plastics plans to hire approximately 60 full-time employees during its initial phase and more than 300 employees by its fifth year of operations. The company will give hiring preference first to Millville residents and then residents of Cumberland County, with an emphasis on hiring “displaced” workers.
The first phase of the project is valued at $15 million to $20 million.
“It’s a great thing for Millville,” Vice Mayor James Parent said.
The raw material for the facility is to come from county landfill operations across South Jersey initially, with a wider area purchasing plan as new parts of the facility come online. The company is stressing the plastics and other recyclables would arrive already cleaned and bundled for reprocessing.
“I want to make it clear to the people of Millville — this is not going to be an enclosed ‘landfill,’” Magazzu told The Daily Journal. “This is going to be, as you saw, a state-of-the-art recycling facility that will take old plastic from Cumberland County landfill and landfills throughout South Jersey and turn it into bottles that we use for water and soda and whatever.
“There is a tremendous window of opportunity, because China doesn’t want these plastics anymore,” he added. “The shipping just doesn’t make sense for them economically. So, there’s a tremendous opportunity, first in Millville, then all of South Jersey, and then probably the region.”
Magazzu said the plant could consume as much as 200 tons a day of plastics, plus other recyclables. The Cumberland County landfill alone cannot meet that demand, so the developers are interested in deals with every South Jersey county.
Jerry Velazquez, president of the Cumberland County Improvement Authority, said the authority already creates the recyclables that DeSantis and his partners want.
“Right now, because of what’s happening in the economy, because of what’s happening in the global market, we can’t sell that stuff,” Velazquez said. “So, we’re getting zero for it. We’re hauling it. And really, there’s nowhere to take it for the folks that are processing it.
“This, obviously, gives us a great opportunity to take that material, that can’t be sold right now, and turn it into a recyclable material that can be reused,” He added. “And quite frankly, selfishly speaking, that we can sell. And make money on. And then generate money for the projects that we develop in the county. So, this is a great marriage for us.
Joseph P. Smith; (856) 563-5252; firstname.lastname@example.org
Read original version published in The Daily Journal on March 14, 2018