Township officials unveiled details for a $500 million redevelopment of a 44-acre blighted property of mostly vacant strip malls hugging the south end of the busy Route 18 highway.
The plans, presented yesterday by the town and the project developer River Development Equities LLC, call for the Red Bank-based firm to acquire the vacant properties wedged between Ruth and Lake Streets, and Route 18, and turn them into a “modern aesthetic,” pedestrian-oriented, live-work-play project, according to developers.
Those properties along Route 18 sit nearly abandoned, with the majority of retail outlets having closed shop as they lost business to online shopping.
“This commercial corridor, one that sits at the center of New Jersey, is in desperate need of revitalization,” East Brunswick Mayor Brad Cohen said at a Tuesday press conference.
The development will include a bus terminal that would connect riders to the New Jersey Turnpike less than a mile away, and the New Brunswick Train Station the next town over, according to an announcement from the township. The plan also entails a commuter parking garage next to the bus terminal.
A main street and traffic circle – running parallel to Route 18 – would extend through the complex to alleviate area traffic that notoriously grinds to a halt during rush hour.
Much of the development will be mixed-use buildings, with 800 “stylish” rentals, as well as retail and both indoor and outdoor dining.
At the physical center of the redevelopment will be a “mixed-use lifestyle center” that would be build as one of the first phases of the project, according to township offices. Tom Bauer, founding principal for the site’s landscape architect Melillo + Bauer Associates, said the center will include residential and retail, a hotel, a medical office complex, the transportation hub, a tech center, and the township’s relocated municipal complex.
The plan calls for indoor and outdoor pet facilities, pedestrian walkways, parks and greenways that snake through the complex, and a central public plaza with an amphitheater to host events such as farmers markets and concerts.
“Being able to bring the outdoor in, the indoor out, that’s something that we’ve envisioned here. So the reason that we have all these public amenities … and the reason we have this transit center is because we want people to be engaged,” said Warren Waters, a partner at River Development.
Much of the property is privately owned and would need to be bought out by the developer, a process which could take upwards of three months, township officials said, as they eye demolitions to start late in the summer.