Prospect of downtown development to be examined in Freehold Borough

FREEHOLD – Municipal officials in Freehold Borough are taking action to investigate potential redevelopment in the downtown district and to encourage new development.

On Feb. 4, Borough Council members authorized the Planning Board to investigate if properties in the downtown district constitute an area in need of redevelopment. If board members determine redevelopment is warranted, they will prepare a redevelopment plan for the designated area.

The areas to be investigated are on Broad Street, Throckmorton Street, West Main Street and Cedar Court. The properties are owned by various entities, including Freehold Borough.

According to a resolution, the preliminary investigation will be submitted to the mayor and council for review and approval. The Planning Board will work with Group Melvin Design in the preparation of the redevelopment plan.

The investigation is part of an ongoing effort on the part of borough officials to rehabilitate and redevelop the downtown district as part of the Downtown Vision Plan.

According to the resolution, municipal officials designated a large portion of the downtown district as an area in need of rehabilitation and adopted the Freehold Center Core Revitalization Plan in 2008 to encourage new development by seeking to address a pattern of underutilization and disinvestment in the downtown. Afterward, officials determined an updated planning document was needed.

To determine a new vision for the downtown, officials secured a Technical Assistance Program panel with the support of the Urban Land Institute, which conducted an analysis of the existing issues and opportunities in the downtown, interviewed stakeholders and presented a written report summarizing its findings, according to the resolution.

The work produced by the panel was used by the borough to apply to the North Jersey Transportation Authority’s (NJTPA) Program for Emerging Centers to continue the planning process for the downtown to achieve Transit Village designation for the area around the bus station and to update the standards in the existing Freehold Center Core Revitalization Plan. The NJTPA subsequently hired a consulting team that developed the Downtown Freehold Vision Plan.

Council members also passed a resolution authorizing Environmental Management Group, Point Pleasant, to conduct an initial environmental study of a portion of the redevelopment area. The study was authorized because the council determined it is prudent to conduct a preliminary environmental investigation of properties that are owned by the borough.