East Brunswick redevelopment agency holds session for ‘2020 Vision’

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VASHTI HARRIS/STAFF
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Rendering of the '2020 Vision' project that was on displaying during the East Brunswick Redevelopment Agency's information session on Sept. 5. VASHTI HARRIS/STAFF
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Two renderings of the '2020 VIsion' project that was on display at the East Brunswick Redevelopment Agency's information session on Sept. 5. VASHTI HARRIS/STAFF
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More than 50 locals attended the East Brunswick Redevelopment Agency information session on Sept. 5 at the East Brunswick Community Arts Center. VASHTI HARRIS/STAFF
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East Brunswick Redevelopment Agency Planner Francis Reiner explaining the framework of the '2020 Vision' project on Sept. 5 during the agency's information session at the East Brunswick Community Arts Center. VASHTI HARRIS/STAFF
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VASHTI HARRIS/STAFF
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Rendering of the '2020 Vision' project that was on displaying during the East Brunswick Redevelopment Agency's information session on Sept. 5. VASHTI HARRIS/STAFF
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Two renderings of the '2020 VIsion' project that was on display at the East Brunswick Redevelopment Agency's information session on Sept. 5. VASHTI HARRIS/STAFF
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More than 50 locals attended the East Brunswick Redevelopment Agency information session on Sept. 5 at the East Brunswick Community Arts Center. VASHTI HARRIS/STAFF
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East Brunswick Redevelopment Agency Planner Francis Reiner explaining the framework of the '2020 Vision' project on Sept. 5 during the agency's information session at the East Brunswick Community Arts Center. VASHTI HARRIS/STAFF

EAST BRUNSWICK–Striving to attract redevelopers to Route 18, the East Brunswick Redevelopment Agency served as the host to an information session for its “2020 Vision” project.

The East Brunswick Redevelopment Agency has issued Request of Proposals (RFP) for the purpose of seeking qualified redevelopers to redevelop two areas located on Route 18, Area 2A that  contains 29 acres and Area 3A that contains 13 acres, according to East Brunswick Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Frank Colon. 

“The RFP intends to identify those redevelopers who submit proposals that fulfill the goals and objectives set forth in the RFP and off of the high probability of success,” Colon said. 

All of the sites included in the redevelopment plan have previously been designated as Areas in Need of Redevelopment without condemnation.

In July 2017, the Township Council decided some areas should be re-investigated as Areas in Need of Redevelopment with condemnation, according to information provided by the agency.

More than 50 potential redevelopers attended the agency’s information session on Sept. 5 at the East Brunswick Community Arts Center.

Dubbing the redevelopment plan “2020 Vision,” Mayor Brad Cohen said, “Route 18 and East Brunswick in general, if you don’t know, is the statistical center of New Jersey. The geographical center of New Jersey is actually Hightstown, but when you look at population density it moves more east as you get closer to Manhattan and East Brunswick is the actual center of New Jersey.”

Part of the Route 18 corridor used to be a major center of commerce, according to Cohen. 

“For various reasons…obviously the area has fallen into some disrepair and it is incumbent upon the rest of us who live here to try to get that back, to redefine, to reinvigorate and redevelop our most important commercial corridor,” Cohen said.

According to Cohen, the corridor averages about 100,000 cars a day. 

Cohen also revealed that Route 18 is one of the most vital and busiest commercial corridors in the entire state. 

Cohen said the township is looking to attract millennials and Generation Zs, who are the children who follow millennials, back to suburban communities.

“There is information and statistics that backs up the fact that many of them are finally getting the point where the cost of the city…is out of their reach and when they have children they’re all going to looking for the same things that the rest of us are looking for [good neighborhoods] and good public schools which is essentially what we have here for decades,” Cohen said.

Agency Planner and DMR Architects Senior Project Manager Francis Reiner spoke about the  Route 18 corridor redevelopment plan’s parking requirements, bulk requirements and permitted uses.

Reiner said the redevelopment plan writes down what is required and what is permitted in terms of density, parking and all the other types of things pertaining to the project. 

Permitted uses in the redevelopment area include: residential; commercial/office; retail; entertainment; civic cultural, institutional and religious; outdoor open markets; structured parking; live work/studios; bus/transit stations; public plaza, park or open space, according to Reiner. 

“When we got involved with this project the objective was to figure out how to create a town center [and] how do we identify a place in East Brunswick that everybody could understand as being the center when their there,” Reiner said. “So what we wanted to do was create a framework within the redevelopment plan that created a main street/town center type of atmosphere.” 

Reiner said the township is looking for a developer to show that they can build open space and public amenities as part of their projects.

“Another thing that was really important when we started this process was to identify the public spaces as being really important so…there are requirements for public open space [and] there are requirements for parking,” Reiner said. “It wasn’t just about creating an opportunity for development it’s really about trying to figure out how to create a place so that those components are just as important as the amount of units and the amount of retailers permitted.” 

The bulk requirements for the Town Center Zone, also known as Area 2A, include the minimum and maximum number of units for a residential structure is 600-800 units; for a retail structure the minimum and maximum of square footage is 80,000-120,000 square-footage; for a hotel structure the minimum and maximum number of rooms is 100-200 rooms; and for an office structure the minimum and maximum of square footage is 0-80,000 square-footage. 

The bulk requirements for the Neighborhood/Highway Commercial Zone, also known as Area 3A, include the minimum and maximum number of units for a residential structure is 140-300 units; for a retail structure the minimum and maximum of square footage is 10,000-40,000 square-footage; and for an office structure the minimum and maximum of square footage is 0-40,000 square-footage.

Councilman James Wendell, the agency chair of the East Brunswick Redevelopment Agency has only been established for 18 months and it was started by Cohen when he was elected mayor. The agency is composed of real estate professionals including himself.

“You are not going to find a more engaged group throughout the state who really wants to work with developers and work to find the right solution for Route 18,” Wendell said. “This is just the beginning of what we want to do. … We have worked hard, we are diligent, we have great planners [and] professionals that work with us. We are really excited and eager to see what you have to give back to us.” 

For more information about the “2020 Vision” project visit www.eastbrunswick.org/filestorage/202/257/East_Brunswick_Redevelopment_Plan_FINAL_5-07-18.pdf.

Contact Vashti Harris at vharris@newspapermediagroup.com.