Eatontown advances possible redevelopment of Monmouth Mall

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EATONTOWN – The members of the Eatontown Borough Council have entered into a memorandum of understanding with the owner of the Monmouth Mall regarding the potential redevelopment of the property at the intersection of Route 35 and Route 36.

On Feb. 23, council members approved the memorandum of understanding between the borough and Monmouth Mall, LLC, to explore a potential redevelopment plan and redevelopment agreement regarding the mall property.

According to a resolution, the memorandum of understanding sets forth the parameters in which Eatontown and the mall’s owner can explore redevelopment options, while ensuring that the borough’s expenses are paid for by the mall’s owner through an escrow account.

The memorandum of understanding follows recent action by the Borough Council to designate the Monmouth Mall as a non-condemnation area in need of redevelopment.

In April 2021, council members authorized the Planning Board to undertake a preliminary investigation to determine if the Monmouth Mall met the criteria to be designated as a non-condemnation redevelopment area.

The Planning Board referred the investigation to the engineering firm Leon S. Avakian Inc.

In June, planner Jennifer Beahm of Leon S. Avakian Inc. presented a report that concluded the Monmouth Mall met the criteria to be designated as an area in need of redevelopment, according to borough officials.

Beahm’s report cited two criteria the mall property met to receive that designation.

One criteria was the discontinuance of the use of a building or buildings previously used for commercial, retail, shopping malls or plazas, office parks, manufacturing or industrial purposes; the abandonment of such building or buildings; significant vacancies of such building or buildings for at least two consecutive years; or the same being allowed to fall into so great a state of disrepair as to be untenantable.

The second criteria was the designation of the delineated area being consistent with smart growth planning principles, according to borough officials.

Following the issuance of Beahm’s report, the members of the Planning Board also determined the Monmouth Mall met the criteria to be declared a non-condemnation area in need of redevelopment and confirmed the finding through a resolution passed in December.

The council members subsequently agreed with the Planning Board’s findings.

The website cites New Jersey’s Local Redevelopment and Housing Law which says, ” ‘Redevelopment’ means: ‘…clearance, re‐planning, development and redevelopment; the conservation and rehabilitation of any structure or improvement, the construction and provision for construction of residential, commercial, industrial, public or other structures and the grant or dedication of spaces as may be appropriate or necessary in the interest of the general welfare for streets, parks, playgrounds, or other public purposes, including recreational and other facilities … in accordance with the development plan.’ ”

“The Borough Council believes it is in the best interest of its residents to explore the potential redevelopment of the Monmouth Mall to ensure its continued long-term viability,” council members said in a resolution.