Redevelopment plan authorized for property in Freehold Township

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FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP — A plan has been authorized by Freehold Township officials that will allow for the redevelopment of property on Willow Brook Road.

During a meeting on Dec. 20, the members of Township Committee adopted an ordinance concerning a redevelopment plan at 225 Willow Brook Road and 235 Willow Brook Road. The property is commonly referred to as the 3M site.

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Willow Brook Road runs between Okerson Road and Route 79 (South Street). The properties discussed in the ordinance are on Willow Brook Road near Halls Mills Road.

Under the terms of the redevelopment plan, 225 Willow Brook Road and 235 Willow Brook Road will be rezoned from M-1 Industrial and LI-3 Light Industrial, respectively, to the 3M Redevelopment Area.

The redevelopment area encompasses 53.52 acres, according to the ordinance.

According to the redevelopment plan, 225 Willow Brook Road is owned by 225 Willow Brook Road, LLC, Manasquan. A 159,195-square-foot warehouse/office building is on the lot.

According to the redevelopment plan, 235 Willow Brook Road is owned by 235 Willowbrook, LLC, North Brunswick. A 198,805-square-foot vacant building and a 9,000-square-foot maintenance building are on the lot.

The redevelopment area was previously owned by 3M (Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing) and used to produce magnetic-tape media. A front building was constructed at 225 Willow Brook Road in approximately 1958 and a rear building was constructed at 235 Willow Brook Road in approximately 1960.

According to the redevelopment plan, the 3M plant closed in 1986. Company officials said the Freehold Township plant was out of date and said moving its operation to plants in Minnesota and North Dakota would allow it to remain competitive. However, 3M still owned the property and subdivided it in 1991.

235 Willow Brook Road was purchased by the Asbury Park Press in 1993 to house printing and production operations. The rear building was closed in 2017 and in 2021, 235 Willowbrook, LLC, purchased the property from the Asbury Park Press. The building is currently vacant, according to the redevelopment plan.

According to the redevelopment plan, 225 Willow Brook Road was purchased by Cusa Realty in 1996. The front building became a multi-tenant building with currently six tenants comprising office, warehousing or a combination of both uses. 225 Willow Brook Road, LLC, purchased the property in March 2022.

Township Committee members designated the 3M site as a non-condemnation area in need of redevelopment in August. The designation authorizes municipal officials to use all the powers provided by law for use in the redevelopment area, excluding the use of eminent domain (condemnation) to acquire property in the designated area.

The goals of the redevelopment plan are to provide for land use requirements specific to the redevelopment area that effectuate the redevelopment of the site and are sensitive to adjoining properties and general welfare of the township; provide increased employment opportunities for existing and future residents of Freehold Township; provide for increased circulation movements within the site; promote a visually attractive building and site; eliminate obsolete or faulty building arrangements; and use smart growth planning principles.

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