BERKELEY – The construction vehicles parked out front of the Beachwood Mall property are not for the redevelopment of that property, officials said. It’s just a staging area for a gas main project.
Kiely Construction is putting in new 12-inch gas mains all along the shoulder of Route 9, Berkeley Township Business Administrator John Camera said.
Most of the Route 9 work will be done at night, he added. The only things being done during the daytime will be work that can still keep both lanes open, such as locating utilities.
There is no real update to the Beachwood mall site, he said. Officials and the redeveloper are still going over the environmental issues of the site and discussing a possible PILOT with the redeveloper to pay for the clean-up of the back of the property.
PILOT stands for Payment In Lieu Of Taxes. This agreement is made when a project will cost a developer so much that it would be prohibitive to also pay taxes. So, the developer pays a set amount of money instead of taxes until the site becomes profitable.
The site is valued at $13 million, and estimates on how much it would cost to clean up are at least $25 million. Most of the contamination is from petroleum-based products associated with the asphalt plant, township officials have said.
The back of the site used to be the South Brunswick Asphalt plant.
Even though it is located in Berkeley, the original builder James R. Johnson called it the Beachwood Mall because he was mad at Berkeley officials at the time. His daughter Priscilla Oughton inherited the property after her father died in 1999.
Shopowners eventually got tossed out. The shopping center fell into disrepair, to the point of being unsafe as well as an eyesore. At one point, Berkeley was fining her several thousands of dollars a day for the violations.
The State Planning Commission approved the township’s redevelopment plan years ago.
The redevelopers will eventually own the site, with their cost of the removal of the shopping center and cleanup of asbestos and other contaminates subtracted from the purchase price, he said.
M & M Realty Partners and Lennar Corporation formed a joint venture where they will redevelop the spot into a mix of commercial, office/professional, and residential. Some plans were for big box stores, pad sites, a movie theater, and a downtown walkable feel.
Berkeley received $712,380 in Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Funding from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and a $275,000 state grant in 2017 to investigate both the front and back portions of the site for possible contamination, Mayor Carmen F. Amato Jr. has said.