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Health group transforming vacant supermarket into medical facility

FREEHOLD – The Borough Council has authorized a developer’s agreement relating to the conversion of a vacant supermarket into a medical facility.

On June 18, council members authorized a developer’s agreement with 597 Park Avenue, LLC, an affiliate of the Visiting Nurse Association Health Group (VNA), which submitted an application to refurbish a vacant building on Park Avenue (Route 33) as a medical center.

For many years, the 25,076-square-foot building housed a Foodtown supermarket, which closed in 2015. The building was later occupied by the Freehold Fresh Market, a supermarket which closed in about 2016.

The developer’s agreement follows the Planning Board’s recent approval of the VNA’s plan to convert the building into a medical facility. According to the council, the agreement is part of the performance guarantee for improvements and will allow the VNA to move forward with the conversion of the vacant structure.

According to a performance guaranty estimate provided by Borough Engineer William Wentzien, improvements for the project include work within the Jerseyville Avenue right-of-way and access area, which intersects with Park Avenue, buffer fencing along the western lot line adjacent to a residential site, and work within and sidewalk along Park Avenue.

The total estimated construction cost of the improvements is $51,712. A 120 percent performance guaranty was posted by VNA, required before the signing of the project’s plans, which totals $62,055 and is comprised of $55,849 in bonds and $6,205 in cash. VNA also posted a required two-year, 15 percent maintenance guarantee of $7,756 and an inspection fee escrow deposit of $2,500, according to Wentzien.

The building will be divided into two areas, according to the resolution and VNA representatives. A total of 16,342 square feet will serve as a primary care medical center, which is a partnership between VNACJ Community Health Center and the CentraState Family Medicine Residency Program, and sponsored by the Rutgers University Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. The center will provide primary care, health screenings and education, prenatal care, podiatry, nutrition counseling and diabetic education.

Clinical specialist Rutgers facility physicians will provide services in the fields of family medicine, sports medicine, gastroenterology, geriatrics and ophthalmology as part of the residency program, according to the VNA.

The remaining 8,734 square feet will be used as administrative offices for the VNA’s Children and Family Health Institute headquarters. The Children and Family Health Institute supports families, particularly those with special needs children who have developmental or learning disabilities or chronic medical conditions, according to VNA representatives.

The VNA and CentraState workforce at the facility, according to VNA representatives, is expected to include 32 primary care staff, 14 CentraState family medicine staff and 36 Children and Family Health Institute staff.

“Like the conversion of the old police station at the corner of Bennett and Hudson streets to offices, the Foodtown supermarket conversion is another example of adaptive reuse of an older, outdated building for new purposes,” said Councilman George Schnurr, who serves as the Borough Council’s liaison to the Planning Board.

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