BOSTON (AP) — A 60-year-old coal-fired power station in Salem that was headed for closure has been purchased by a New Jersey-based power company, which plans to replace it with a natural gas-fired plant.

Footprint Power LLC announced Friday that it had purchased the Salem Harbor Power Station from Dominion Energy Inc. Terms weren’t disclosed.

The station, which opened in 1951, was long targeted as a polluter by environmentalists. But many Salem residents were loyal to the plant for the jobs and millions in tax revenue it provided. Last year, Dominion announced it would close the plant in 2014, citing the high costs of required environmental upgrades and of coal, compared with cheaper natural gas.

Footprint, based in Bridgewater, N.J., said its new plant will take up one-third of the 63-acre site, with the rest used for commercial and industrial development.

The project is Footprint’s first.

In a statement, Footprint chief executive Peter Furniss said Salem has the needed infrastructure and residents who understand “the challenges and opportunities posed by the Salem Harbor site.”

The current facility was a 745-megawatt coal- and oil-fired station, which was built in 1951 and could power 745,000 homes at its peak. The new plant won’t be quite as large, less than 700 megawatts, and hopes to be operating by 2016, said Footprint spokeswoman Carole Brennan.

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