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Freehold Township officials designate strip mall as redevelopment area

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP – A strip mall on Route 9 north in Freehold Township has officially been designated as a redevelopment area by the Township Committee.

During a meeting on Nov. 9, committee members adopted an ordinance that establishes a redevelopment area plan for the Freehold Mall on Route 9 north. The ordinance rezones the strip mall’s property from B-10 (highway development) to the new Freehold Mall Redevelopment Area.

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, a Firestone service center, Terrace Bagels and a Jersey Strong fitness center.

Plans to redevelop the 50-plus-year-old site date back to earlier in the year after municipal officials considered using the property as a location 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.

There is no housing on the commercial property at this time and according to a resolution, representatives of the property’s owner, Aspen RT 9, objected to the Freehold Mall 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 commercial use to continue while permitting overlay zoning for possible affordable housing.

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

According to the redevelopment plan, the objectives are to provide an opportunity for the development of non-residential uses that foster the long-term viability of the buildings and grounds; increased employment opportunities for existing and future residents; an increase in tax ratables; infrastructure improvements; circulation improvements that promote the free flow of traffic; and an interconnection of adjacent uses.

The plan intends to create land use requirements specific to the redevelopment area, maintain the current integrity of the site by eliminating obsolete or faulty building arrangements and use smart growth planning principles.

The plan also seeks to promote visually attractive buildings, the visibility of the principal building and the opportunity for the production of affordable housing.

The redevelopment of the site 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.

One option will be to create a mixed use transit village, according to the plan. There will also be an option to relocate a Route 9 turning lane and a jughandle to facilitate the planned extension of Trotters Way from Route 537 to Route 9.

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