LONG BRANCH – Twenty years in the making, the City of Long Branch’s historic oceanfront Pier Village has reached its third and final phase of construction.
The last phase of the project will add 72 hotel units, 269 residential units and two, two-story garages. A portion of the boardwalk will be rebuilt and a new mister water feature will be added along with a mini pocket park, mini stage, a new stage and a carousel, according to the city’s Assistant Director of Planning Carl Turner Jr.
Also included in the plans are additional public parking spaces and new stairways and ramps to provide convenient beach access.
The phase will take about two-and-a-half years to complete, and take place between Morris Avenue and Melrose Terrace, according to Turner.
“Pier Village is a town center, where both locals and visitors gather to eat, shop and play by the Shore throughout the year. We’ve curated new restaurants and retailers that represent the best New Jersey and New York have to offer. We’re thrilled to launch this next phase with unparalleled public amenities for the entire community alongside a boutique hotel and luxury residences,” said Nicole Kushner Meyer, principal at Kushner Companies, the developer of the site.
Pier Village is currently owned by both Kushner Companies and Extell Development Company. The architecture companies working on the final phase are Minno and Wasko and Shore Point Architecture. InSite Engineering is the engineer and Melillo and Bauer is the landscape architect, according to Turner.
To begin construction for Phase Three, the Long Branch Planning Board approved the final site plan on Aug. 16, 2016, according to Turner.
The Pier Village project has been broken down into three phases. Phase One had 100,000 square feet of retail space, 420 residential units and 847 parking spaces. Phase Two had 216 residential units, 3,810 square feet of retail space, 454 parking spaces and a boutique hotel with 26 units, according to Turner.
In 1995, the city created an organization comprised of local government officials, professionals, private business owners and residents, which was named Long Branch Tomorrow. The organization came up with the master plan for Pier Village in 1995 and the city adopted it in 1996, according to Turner.
“Our beachfront was the least utilized by the general public. It was very privatized and it actually became known as the ‘ghetto of the sea.’ In the 1980s, the city began looking for ways to improve the city’s beachfront area. Then, in 1994, officials came to the realization that there was a need to improve the beachfront,” Turner said. “We wanted to develop not only a seasonal area, but a year-round neighborhood where people can come for commercial and residential uses. The idea was not to just create an area where people could come just for the summer, but to create a place were people could live year-round, so the plan was the reverse of the original intention,” Turner said.