North Brunswick approves first age-restricted community

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NORTH BRUNSWICK – After more than 10 years of discussion, North Brunswick will finally see market-rate senior housing with a luxury twist.

K-Land No. 54 LLC, on behalf of Kaplan Companies, received unanimous approval during the Jan. 9 Planning Board meeting for Amaranth at North Brunswick, a 222-unit age restricted complex that should be built out within the next three years.

Planning Board Vice Chair Richard Zangara said he was “honored” to make the motion to approve “the first truly age-restricted community in the township of North Brunswick.”

“It’s a great project, gentlemen. We look forward to having you in town,” Chairman Dan DiStefano said.

The four-story building, to be located off of Route 130 south and Renaissance Boulevard North, will consist of 32 percent 1-bedroom units, ranging from 732-912 square feet; 34 percent 1-bedroom units with a den, ranging from 987-1,059 square feet; 30 percent 2-bedroom units, ranging from 1,182-1,275 square feet; and 4 percent 2-bedroom units with a den, averaging about 1,370 square feet, according to Christian Lessard of Lessard Design Inc. in Virginia, the architect for this project.

Included in the 222 units will be 10 percent, or 22, affordable housing units that will be dispersed throughout the building, Kaplan Companies President Jason Kaplan said. There will not be a different layout, but instead different materials used, such as granite versus Formica, he said.

Key features include a gym, pool, outdoor seating, bocce ball court, shuffleboard court, fire pits, a yoga studio, a cooking demonstration area, a community garden and a dog spa complete with a steel tub and blowdryer.

“It’s designed in a courtyard style. It has a hotel-type feel,” Kaplan said. “It’s over-amenitized.”

“I’m just really impressed by the uniqueness of design and some of the elements they have in there,” township Planner Tom Vigna said.

There will be individual garages for each non-COAH unit that surround the exterior of the building, with a breezeway corridor leading into the main building, according to Kaplan. Of the 429 total parking spaces, 227 are surface parking, 142 are in the detached garages and 60 are tucked under the building, he said.

Kaplan said the cost of parking will be included in the rent price, which although he cannot ensure what prices will be once the project is finished, he expects to be in the range of $1,600 for the one-bedroom units and $3,000 for the larger units, based on the prices of a similar project currently being built in Highland Park.

One point of contention was creating a sidewalk to Morris Avenue in order to connect Amaranth to the rest of the Renaissance development. The 23.8-acre site includes the existing Walgreens and Lightbridge Academy, of which 12.8 acres are designated to the residential use.

“If there is more retail put in there may be an area people would want to walk to,” Planning Board member Pat Melanson said.

“I think walking on sidewalks is something that should be encouraged, not discouraged,” Planning Board member Cheryl Vitow said. “I want to walk in my neighborhood.”

Currently, a vehicle is required to circumvent the property. Once the building is constructed, there will be a right in from and a right out to Route 130 south, a full movement driveway on Renaissance Boulevard West, two-way circulation throughout the site and a one-way circle in front of the front door, according to licensed planner/professional engineer Dan Busch of Maser Consulting.

The project will have “significantly less traffic” than the previously approved 213,000 square feet of big box retail, according to Kerry Pehnke, senior staff engineer for Langan Engineering.

According to a traffic study conducted in June 2016, she said there are 44 total entering and exiting trips during the morning peak hour from 7:30-8:30 a.m., and 54 total trips from the afternoon peak hour from 4:45-5:45 p.m.

The history of the property dates back to 1985, when Brunswick Manor Associates, which included the Kaplan and Halpern development companies, was bound by a settlement agreement with the Township of North Brunswick to build a minimum of 1.5 million square feet of nonresidential space to accompany the housing portion of Renaissance.

The developers later dissolved their partnership, and in 2007, K-Land No. 54 LLC filed a civil complaint, claiming the township denied discussions about building on its piece of commercial property based on a zoning discrepancy.

However, the township’s stance was that Kaplan was violating its former partnership with Halpern, and that the developer’s agreement for a commercial development off Route 130 would help offset the tax increases faced by residents resulting from the schoolchildren who would live in the development’s 2,000 homes.

The township reached a settlement agreement with a division of the real estate developer Kaplan Cos. regarding the parcel of land in September 2009.

Because of the settlement, the 23-acre site was initially approved for 225,000 square feet of commercial development in a village, main street-style center, with a minimum of 15 percent office space.

The zoning of the property was later changed from big box retail to age-restricted housing.

“It is a tremendous benefit for this community, this township, by a developer who has made its name and its home in this township,” said James Stahl, K-Land’s attorney.

The 31.62-acre parcel that belonged to Halpern, which is located near the township’s emergency services building, has begun construction for the North Brunswick Middle School.

Contact Jennifer Amato at jamato@newspapermediagroup.com.