BRICK – The last hurdle has been overcome for the redevelopment of the former Foodtown site, located on Route 70, when it was recently approved by the County Planning Board.
“Big announcement tonight – something we’ve been working on since May of 2017 occurred today at about 4:35 p.m., and that is the sports dome closed, so the money is in the bank,” said Mayor John G. Ducey during the July 13 council meeting.
A sports dome, to be constructed by businessman Peter Tasca, is planned for the rear of the 11-acre site, and well-known developer Jack Morris (who developed the Costco site) is developing the front portion, which will have retail space.
Morris closed on the retail portion last week, Ducey said. Each developer paid $2.5 million, for a total of $5 million.
“The entire property is no longer owned by the township of Brick, it’s now owned by two corporate entities,” Ducey said.
Developing the site and getting it back on the township tax rolls has been a priority for the mayor, whose efforts have been thwarted by years of legal wrangling.
The township purchased the land in 2003 for $6.1 million to stop the development of a home improvement warehouse store.
In other news, the governing body passed an ordinance to spend up to $450,000 in a partnership with the county to purchase open space off Princeton Avenue.
Mayor Ducey said the wooded land is large enough to potentially build 17 homes.
Property tax records show that the lots – block 869.33 lot 32, located on West Drive, and block 870 lot 45, located on Freedom Road – are owned by Howard and Elizabeth Gilbert.
The buildable lots are located in the R-15 zone, which means the lot size for each potential home would be a minimum of 15,000 square feet.
The township agreed to contribute an amount not to exceed $450,000 for the purchase, with the remainder funded by the county.
“When I first became mayor, everybody said ‘Brick is totally built out – you don’t have to worry about houses coming in anymore,’” he said.
“Then all of a sudden there’s a 15-house cul-de-sac here, there’s 20 houses over here, all these different cul-de-sacs are popping up all over the place.”
He said it was time to take a look and try to preserve any remaining woods in town.
Preserved land would not necessarily become parks, he said, but would likely remain in their natural state as open space.
To that end, the administration is starting a new committee called “The Open Space Savers.” The “OSS” would be composed of a group of citizens representing different areas of town, and along with township professionals, they would look at town maps to see what could be purchased each year within a certain budget.
The township professionals would seek funding sources from grants, Green Acres and more, he said.
The first meeting would be in September. The mayor said if anyone is interested in serving on the OSS Committee email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We want all ages, all backgrounds, we’re going to try to make this as inclusive as possible,” he said. “We’ll try to preserve what open space we have, but obviously, we can’t spend millions and millions of dollars every time one of these pops up.”
The next council meeting will be on Tuesday, July 27 at 7 p.m.