Bordentown City planners approve Cranberry Park Development

The Bordentown City Planning and Zoning Boards recently approved an application for the proposed construction of the Cranberry Park, LLC, commercial/residential development.

After the Bordentown City Planning and Zoning Boards fielded testimony and public comment on Oct. 7 and Nov. 4 for the preliminary and final site plans on the proposed Cranberry Park development, the board members unanimously approved the project application at the November meeting.

The meetings fielded discussion among the applicant, board members and public for proposed preliminary and final site plan approval for the site of the former Ocean Spray industrial processing plant on East Park Street in Bordentown City.

The proposed project is currently headed by Daniel Popkin of Modern Recycled Spaces who was present at the meetings along with multiple members of his professional staff to provide testimony in seek of approval for preliminary and final site plans, a variance for an existing condition, waiver relief and a general development plan approval in connection with a portion of the property formerly consisting of having frontage on East Park Street and bordered by the rail line to the east.

Popkin has approximately 30 years of experience in developing commercial projects, primarily in Mercer, Hunterdon and Middlesex counties. He was also a part of the site’s “steering committee” for Bordentown City in 2016 when city officials laid out their initial ideas for the property in a “redevelopment & linkage plan study.”

The proposed property is situated in the city’s commercial industrial zoning district and is also part of a redevelopment plan of Bordentown City set forth by an ordinance adopted on April 11, 2016.

It is approximately 14.82 acres and is currently being used for industrial, warehousing and distribution purposes. Popkin said that his current proposal is to remove all of the existing buildings on site with the exception of a building consisting of 65,299 square feet to be repurposed for office, retail and commercial uses including an approximate 10,300 square foot mezzanine area for tenant storage.

Popkin also said that the he is proposing to construct 296 residential units (274 market rate units and 22 affordable housing units) among seven buildings, each four stories, a 2,800 square foot single story clubhouse with a pool, as well as associated site improvements such as parking, drainage facilities and landscaping.

According to the submitted application, the current proposal said the project is to be completed in four phases. For phase one, the construction would consist of two buildings and the east driveway of the property onto Park Street as well as a storm water basin. Two of the buildings are proposed to be four stories and 12,075 square feet each and contain 43 dwelling units per building.

For phase two, the construction of two more buildings is proposed and would include the construction of the central entrance on the property, a clubhouse and storm water basin. These two 12,075 square foot buildings would be four stories each as well as 38 dwelling units per building.

For phase three, three more buildings are proposed to be constructed; one building with 14,779 square feet to contain 48 dwelling units. The other two buildings would each be 12,075 square feet with four stories and contain 43 dwelling units.

For phase four, this would repurpose the existing 65,299 square foot Ocean Spray building for office, retail and commercial uses including an approximate 10,300 square foot mezzanine area for tenant storage.

Although the applicant proposed to hold off on the renovation of the Ocean Spray building for commercial use until the final phase of the project, planning/zoning board member and former city mayor Joe Malone, expressed a need toward the community for it to potentially be developed earlier in the project schedule at the October board meeting.

After several city board members discussed potential issues with the site such as open space, parking, the aesthetics of the buildings as well as the phasing of the project between the development of the residential and commercial spaces, officials said that their professionals met with Popkin’s before the November meeting to develop a new plan for the site.

The proposed changes to the site include items such as areas for additional open green space, a realignment of the residential buildings, an agreement to construct 200 living units, which will then commence the development of the commercial site, and an increase in parking spaces from 631 stalls to 653 stalls, and a redesign to the apartment buildings for more brick inlay on the facades to provide an “industrial” aesthetic.

City planner Charles Latini said he felt the proposed altercations to the developer’s original plans will improve the site both for the development’s residents and current city residents.

“The changes we have worked on with the applicant have been a welcomed addition,” Latini said. “I really believe we now have a useable green space and green thread that stitches the project together both residentially and commercially in a way that’s going to benefit the new residents of this community as well as being available to residents of the city.

Following additional testimony among the applicant’s professionals, board and public, a motion was made by Bordentown City Mayor James Lynch for approval of the application and was unanimously passed by the board members.

Although the application was mostly met with positive remarks from a majority of the board members, former Bordentown City Mayor and planning board member Joe Malone expressed his hesitations with the project in light a vote for approval.

“This is the probably the most important thing that is going to happen to Bordentown City in our lifetimes,” Malone said. “A lot of the responsibility for what happens moving forward goes on the shoulders of the city commissioners, and I would sincerely hope that they along with [Popkin] make this project successful and beneficial to the community of Bordentown. I do have reservations about the sequencing and the build-out of this project, but I will support it tonight.”

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