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Freehold Township and owner of strip mall ink settlement agreement

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP – A settlement agreement has been reached between Freehold Township municipal officials and the owner of a Route 9 strip mall that is expected to implement the redevelopment of the site.

On Oct. 12, Township Committee members authorized the settlement agreement with Aspen RT 9, LLC, which is the owner of the Freehold Mall, Route 9 north.

The Freehold Mall (not to be confused with the Freehold Raceway Mall) is commonly known as the 25-acre shopping center that includes a Burlington store, Terrace Bagels and a Jersey Strong fitness center.

Municipal officials are seeking to redevelop the property and previously passed a resolution which declared the site to be an area in need of redevelopment without the use of eminent domain (condemnation).

Through the settlement agreement that was recently announced, Freehold Township and the property owner have agreed to provide for the redevelopment of the shopping center.

The redevelopment will include the retention of all four freestanding buildings, with the option to remove and replace the building that currently houses the Jersey Strong gym.

There will also be an option to relocate a Route 9 turning lane and a jughandle to facilitate the planned extension of Trotter’s Way from Route 537 to Route 9.

Municipal officials have considered using the Freehold Mall property for 45 affordable housing units.

Affordable housing is defined as housing that is sold or rented at below market rates to individuals and families whose income meets certain guidelines.

According to a resolution, representatives of Aspen RT 9 objected to the Freehold Mall property being rezoned or redeveloped to address the realistic development potential in Freehold Township’s affordable housing plan.

Through negotiations, municipal officials and the property owner agreed to instead treat the Freehold Mall as an unmet need site. That course of action will allow the property’s current use to continue while allowing overlay zoning for possible affordable housing.

The settlement agreement also allows for additional non-residential redevelopment at the Freehold Mall.

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