Top stories of the year for Montgomery Township

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With 2023 quickly coming to an end, the Princeton Packet looks back at its top three stories for the year in Montgomery.

‘We are eager to move forward’

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Shovels may have recently hit dirt to mark the official groundbreaking of the Montgomery Promenade, but the vision for the development has encompassed more than two decades.

“We looked back and its 20 years … the first plans, I think came through in 2003,” Montgomery Township Mayor Devra Keenan said. “Which means [the plans] were talked about a little bit earlier than that, so this has been a long time to come I would say.”

The project has faced challenges over the years. However, on Sept. 26, Montgomery Township officials and SJC Ventures executives were finally at the point where they could gather together on Route 206 to celebrate the mixed-use and retail project’s construction moving ahead.

“You look back at all the hard work and realize it was worth it to get to this point, because the project itself is the best version of itself,” said Jeff Garrison, principal at SJC Ventures, the Atlanta-based commercial real estate and development firm behind the project.

“We are excited to move forward and eager to move forward.”

The Montgomery Promenade is being built in two phases on a vacant 54-acre parcel in the township at 1200 State Road.

The project’s first phase consists of 11 mixed-use and retail buildings and 29 residential single-family homes. In the second phase, there are five mixed-use and retail buildings planned along with five residential single-family homes.

The 292,700-square-foot shopping center north of the Princeton airport will be anchored by Whole Foods.

As a development partner with Whole Foods, SJC Ventures was asked by the natural and organic supermarket chain to work on this development project.

SJC Ventures took over the Montgomery Promenade project from developer Madison Marquette, which is the retail developer for Asbury Park Boardwalk and also owner of Princeton Marketfair.

As they move forward, SJC Ventures plans to start opening tenants in 20 months. Twenty to 26 months is the traditional target, Garrison said.

Outside of Whole Foods, tenants that have been announced include the McLoone’s Group, which will have an Iron Whale and Robinson Ale House totaling about 15,000 square feet; an 11,000 square-foot Ulta Beauty adjacent to Whole Foods; and a Kirk Ruoff’s Turning Point Restaurant.

In addition, a women’s clothing store Dor L’ Dor NYC, a More Than Q, European Wax Center, Spavia and Norman’s Hallmark.

Justin Latone, SJC Ventures senior vice president of leasing, noted that the overall project is about 50% leased.

For the first phase, which is being constructed now and about 162,200 square feet, there is 75,000 square-feet of leasing space available.

“… We will probably have 40,000 square feet to lease starting next year not including what we already have,” Latone said.

SJC Ventures has intent on signing five leases between the time of groundbreaking and the end of the year. The firm will have three announcements planned in the next 60 days, which will include new retailers, Latone noted.

They intend on having Phase I fully leased at the time the project opens.

Andrew Harrison/ The Princeton Packet
Outside view of the new municipal center in Montgomery Township.

Ordinance sets ‘rates, charges and times’ for electric vehicle charging stations

Rates, charges and times are all set for electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at the municipal complex and Otto Kaufman Community Center in Montgomery Township.

Township Committee members unanimously voted to adopt an ordinance setting the rates, charges and times during the governing body’s Aug. 17 meeting.

The ordinance addresses “EV charging stations that have already been installed and is forward thinking for another location,” according to Township Attorney Wendy Rubenstein, who said now the township can start being reimbursed for the electricity used.

There are four designated public parking spaces for EV charging stations at the township municipal complex and two spaces designated at the Otto Kaufman Community Center.

The township is charging EV owners $2 an hour – up to four hours – for those charging spaces.

The rate will jump to $5 per hour, according to the ordinance.

The designated spaces with charging stations are for EVs connecting to charge. Non-electric vehicles are not allowed to park in the spaces. A non-electric vehicle owner who has their car in one of these spaces will be hit with parking fees, a violation or towing.

The ordinance states that EVs are allowed to park in those spaces during the time they are connected for charging or for up to four hours.

There is a 30-minute grace period to move the car once an EV owner disconnects from one of the charging spaces.

If the owner car is caught after the 30-minute grace period they can receive a sitting fee, violation, or the vehicle can be towed, according to the ordinance.

Montgomery receives NJDEP grant to replace outdated detention basins

A state grant from the New Jersey Department of Enviornmental Protection (NJDEP) will help Montgomery Township replace outdated, municipally owned, detention basins in the township to aid in reducing flooding and improve water quality.

The grant received totals $431,120 and would assist with stormwater management in the township by converting two existing detention basins to bioretention basins.

The township would remove concrete low-flow channels and replace turf grass with native meadow vegetation.

“One of the things Montgomery has been working on is analyzing all the detention basins we have with many owned by the municipality, county, or private homeowners’ association,” said Township Administrator Lori Savron in a June report to the Township Committee and public, noting some of the basins are “quite old” in terms of “technology, water quality and water quantity.”

“Quantity being what helps retain water,” she said.

Initially, Montgomery was able to hire a consultant from Princeton Hydro, a New Jersey ecological and engineering firm in Ringoes, through a Sustainable Jersey grant. The consultant worked with township staff to develop a report to identify which older detention basins would be the best two to convert to bioretention basins.

“Out of that report, Lauren Wasilauski, our open space and stewardship director, and our township engineer came together and wrote this grant to DEP,” Savron said, noting the township was one of 97 applicants to apply and one of 31 that received the DEP grant.

The grant received by NJDEP is part of $7 million in grants awarded by Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration through the state agency to modernize and enhance stormwater management practices and infrastructure as the state continues to be impacted by climate change and weather-related events such Tropical Storms Ida and Henri.

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