By KENNY WALTER
FORT MONMOUTH — The Oceanport section of Fort Monmouth may soon have an entertainment and retail hub that could include a coffee roaster and brewery as its centerpiece.
Last month, the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA) entered into a purchase agreement with AP Development Partners for the 4.2-acre parcel formerly known as the fort’s Dance Hall.
“In addition to attracting businesses and residential redevelopment opportunities, we’re eager to create a place in Oceanport where residents and employees can relax and socialize,” FMERA Executive Director Bruce Steadman said. “AP Development Partners’ plans for the Dance Hall parcel are aligned with that vision.”
The sale includes the 16,000-square-foot Dance Hall building, as well as the adjacent Van Kirk Park and an associated parking area.
The Dance Hall was originally targeted for demolition under the Fort Monmouth Reuse and Redevelopment Plan. However, FMERA adopted the Reuse Plan Amendment No. 4 in January, permitting an alternative development scenario for the building, allowing reuse for commercial/retail space and clarifying that reuse possibilities include craft production and outdoor dining.
AP Development proposes redeveloping the property for commercial and retail uses, including entertainment and restaurants. The development group has indicated that potential users of the facility include a restaurant/café, microbrewery and coffee roaster. Under the agreement, Van Kirk Park will be retained as open space, and entertainment events will be hosted in the park throughout the year.
FMERA has also officially issued sealed bids for the purchase of the main chapel, which is also on the Oceanport section of the fort. The request officially went out on Sept. 2 and is due back Oct. 7.
The five-acre parcel is currently located on Malterer Avenue and is located within the Fort Monmouth Historic District. FMERA is seeking to sell the property, but also to have it remain as a house of worship in some capacity.
There are currently 85 parking spaces on the site, and to be in compliance with FMERA’s land-use regulations, 200 spaces of parking are needed, requiring the selected developer to construct a 115-space parking lot at the north end of the property.