Redevelopment Activity Gaining Momentum at Former Fort Monmouth

first_img“These are awesome plans, but we still must sell the real estate and make money off of it to pay the bills and replace and install new infrastructure like water, sewer and lights, which has been ongoing since FMERA took over the fort,” Steadman cautioned. “The fort is a city within three cities. All types of things arise each day. We still get calls and visits from those who served and lived there going back to World War II.” “FMERA is a team of 10 people,” Steadman said. “We can only be successful if we’ve got the support of our stakeholders, including the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, the (federal) Environmental Protection Agency, the state departments of environmental protection and transportation, the three municipalities, and more. They have all been great partners, especially Monmouth County under the leadership of Freeholder Lillian Burry.” Burry has officially represented the county in the fort’s redevelopment since its closure. For Tinton Falls, that 40-acre site is next to the borough’s existing municipal complex on Tinton Avenue where Lennar Corporation has begun construction of 243 homes and 58,000 square feet of commercial space called Patriot’s Square. Lennar is also building 45 single-family detached homes, dubbed Anthem Place, on a nearby 15-acre site near completed projects Trinity Hall School, Commvault and the county recreation center, where streets have already been laid out with curbing. Nuse said model homes should open in 2020 and prospective buyers have already expressed interest. While each fort parcel has designated future uses in the master plan, FMERA stresses it will entertain alternate, “outside-the-box” compliant proposals. “Highest and best use” is a phrase frequently used by fort officials. Near Suneagles Golf Course in Eatontown, the 64-acre Howard Commons former fort housing area will require demolition of 480 deteriorating Army homes. After initial buyer HovWest backed out in 2015, Nuse said he hopes the new approved compliant bidder’s plans will be approved to go to contract in the first quarter of 2020. The developer, who will not be named until the contract is presented per FMERA rules, proposes a mix of high-end retail and 302 housing units with 20 percent affordable. Officials declined to name specific tenants, but said the retail portion should fill 250,000 square feet. In Eatontown, the highest profile town center on Parcel B will be along Route 35, just inside the brick arches of Johnson Gates, which will be retained and preserved. After the first approved bidder backed out, the second-highest bidder began negotiating with FMERA about two years ago. The developer must demolish 1 million square feet of existing structures there. Final negotiations were underway in August for the 77- acre parcel, Nuse said, adding, “We hope to bring a contract to the FMERA board this fall. We’re excited about the project. It’s the front door of the fort.” In Oceanport, the town center will take the form of a “transit-oriented development” focused on the Little Silver Train Station in what was the fort’s “400 Area.” Extending along Oceanport Avenue and Oceanport Creek, that parcel is slated for housing and commercial uses to create a live- work-play environment. A Request for Offers to Purchase, or RFOTP, is expected to be issued for the area by the end of this year, Nuse said. Projects in development at the former Fort Monmouth.Photo courtesy FMERA “The big picture remains the same: 1,585 housing units,40 percent open space and technology is still the main goal,along with targeted industry and a town center for each of thethree municipalities the fort spans, Eatontown, Oceanport andTinton Falls,” said David Nuse, FMERA director of real estatedevelopment. By Laura D.C. Kolnoski “The Master Development Plan started in 2008,” Steadmansaid. “There have been 14 changes so far, but the plan stillguides us. There have been 12 years of marketplace changessince we began, but uses we are looking for are still consistentwith the plan.” The Two River Times met with officials of the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA) last month for an update and exclusive tour. While the public can now drive along the fort’s main artery Route 537, known through the fort as the Avenue of Memories, activity is happening in areas still inaccessible to all but the law enforcement and security personnel who patrol them. center_img TRIO OFTOWN CENTERS Residential tenants will drive retail development, said Sarah Giberson, FMERA senior marketing and development officer. “We hope to have local, new to the market, and/ or high-end niche businesses, not big box stores. There will be a Main Street ‘spine’ within the development and public space for things like farmer’s markets and events. A dog park and walking trails are among the proposals. We want it to be a place where people want to go.” Bruce Steadman, FMERA executive director, called it, “new wave retail that will be experiential, more than just shopping, so people can bring their family and spend time. That’s what makes a successful retail development today.” A concept plan will be presented at the approval stage, Giberson said. The Fort Athletic Club in the base’s former Fitness Center along the Avenue of Memories should be in business next year, Steadman said. The water tower on that site will be retained, painted and bear the club logo. Other sites breaking ground or opening for business in 2020 will be the former dance hall, bowling center and Squier Hall, currently being renovated by New Jersey City University. The massive new campus of RWJ Barnabas Health should also break ground in 2020 on the site of the former Myer Center, where demolition was recently completed. FORT MONMOUTH – Several completed deals are expected by the end of 2019 on Fort Monmouth, the 1,126-acre former U.S. Army base shuttered in 2005. More fort parcels are coming to market, construction will begin on approved redevelopment projects and other firms will soon open their doors to the public. Officials are predicting a period of accelerated activity through 2020. WHAT’S NEXT On opposite sides of the Avenue of Memories, Mallet Hall, a former Class A office building, and Vail Hall, a “communications hub in the switchboard days,” should go out for bid in early 2020, Steadman said. The Mallet Hall parcel is slated for housing. Steadman said there has been “a lot of interest” in Vail Hall. The projects above have already been completed at the former Fort Monmouth.Photo courtesy FMERA Among the Oceanport properties anticipated to go under contract in 2020 are Barker’s Circle, the Commissary and Nurses Quarters. In some cases, contracts could be signed in 2019 with the rest of the process stretching into 2020. That process includes board approval and due diligence by the prospective purchaser, followed by FMERA site plan review to work out any “kinks.” Afterward, plans go before municipal planning boards and governing bodies. The due diligence period can take up to 60 days, but can be extended depending on circumstances. “In addition to a number of (real estate) closings on schedule for this year, we are looking to put out three large RFOTPs by the end of the year, including 31 acres in Tinton Falls known as the Tinton Falls Commercial Development Parcel, the 400 Area, and the technology campus envisioned for the 50-acre McAfee Center, with space for start-ups to mature tech companies,” Nuse said. “That site could also include amenities and support companies to create a holistic campus, like a mini-Google campus and incubator.” Total reinvestment at Fort Monmouth is projected to be $1.5 billion to $2 billion once all is built out, Steadman said, adding, “It’s millions and millions of tax revenue for the three municipalities and the county; $2 million to $3 million per year for the county, and as much as 10 times that for the municipalities over a 10-year period. That’s how our ultimate success will be judged.”last_img

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