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Bridgewater Courier News
EAST BRUNSWICK – More than 500 homes and retail space are coming to the former Wonder Bread factory site on Tices Lane.
The project, which was approved by the township planning board, calls for construction of 520 homes in townhouses and apartment buildings and about 18,000 square feet of retail space on 25 acres.
To help meet the township’s court-mandate quota, 104 of the homes are earmarked for affordable housing.
The project is in the Tices Lane Redevelopment Plan Area, part of the township’s larger Route 18 redevelopment vision.
The developer is Garden Homes Development. Demolition of the existing structures on the site began last year.
“I think it’s an exciting day for East Brunswick,” Mayor Brad Cohen said. “It takes properties that have been blighted and underperforming and converts them into something that will bring a significantly higher inflow of tax dollars into our tax base.”
The project also will come with significant road improvements on Tices Lane and Renee Road, which is the extension that will go through the property, the mayor said.
EARLIER: East Brunswick: 520 homes may rise on former Wonder Bread factory site
“All of this should help mitigate against the potential of any traffic impact that this new community would have on the already crowded roads,” Cohen said. “The goal is for them to contribute in a way that improves the roads without using taxpayer dollars. It’s a win for the town. They will be doing some major improvements that otherwise would have fallen on taxpayers to carry themselves.”
In addition, a back piece of the property is expected to be deeded back to the township.
The plan, the mayor said, is to build a hockey/ice skating rink there.
“They are going to help pay for part of that project,” Cohen said. “The ultimate plan is to have two rinks there, but we’re going to do one at a time. We’re hoping to build a second rink once the first rink gets busy enough to generate enough income to support the building of a second rink without going out for significant financing.”
Some residents have suggested that the property be used as a community center instead of an ice rink, Cohen said.
“The property that is being offered is not large enough to accommodate a multi-function community recreation center,” the mayor said. “That’s something we do want to do, but that is going to have be done down the line when we are able to recoup some of the costs through redevelopment fees and the taxes that they and other redevelopers will be paying. This is our first entry into any type of redevelopment. Once we are at the point when we have the type of funds to build all those things, we would love to provide that and other things.”
The front third of the property that borders Tices Lane will be mostly apartments over retail space, the mayor said. The middle third is going to be mostly townhouses and duplex apartments, he said.
READ: Demolition at 110 Tices Lane, East Brunswick, has begun.
The Route 18 redevelopment plan also includes the revitalization of 44 acres along southbound Route 18 between Ruth and Lake streets by Red Bank-based River Development Equities, who has recently brought in an equity partner, whose identity will soon be released, Cohen said.
“At this point, we’re just waiting for the developers to acquire the properties,” Cohen said. “They are still in the process of completing that. Once that’s done, I think we’ll start to see buildings come down and some actual plans hit the planning board.”
The plan includes the Loehmann’s Plaza and a nearby strip mall, which was the former home of such businesses as Gap and The Wiz.
The plan also includes the former site of David’s Bridal, which was demolished earlier this year.
The proposed $500 million project is expected to include a commuter parking structure, bus terminal, stores, a hotel, tech center and a medical services office.
Susan Loyer covers Middlesex County and more for MyCentralJersey.com. To get unlimited access to her work, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
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