Rec Center Now Allowed On Foodtown Site

Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn

BRICK – The governing body was asked to vote on an amendment to the Metedeconk Village Redevelopment Plan that would allow for a recreation center as an approved use, and the ban the construction of any gas stations at the site.

A previous 2015 amendment banned the construction of residences at the former Foodtown site, and since the township owns the 11-acre property, it has some control over what will go there, said Mayor John G. Ducey during a recent Township Council meeting.

“It seems like we have gas stations everywhere,” he said, and after the meeting said that different groups have been approaching the administration to build gas stations in different areas of town.

The amended plan would also allow for drive-throughs, which could be part of the retail component to be located at the site fronting Route 70.

“The redevelopment plan is essential in identifying the best uses for the site, which facilitates the sale of the property and the site plan applications which come next,” Ducey said.

Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn

Two developers are each paying $2.5 million to develop the site. HFZ Brick LLC would develop the back 6.05 acres to build a privately-owned and privately-run sports dome, and M&M Development would be constructing three retail pad sites at the front portion.

One of the pads would be a restaurant, another is for a 20,000 square-foot market, and the third pad is for a retail building, that has not been named.

“We have to amend the plan at this time. It’s necessary to allow for the site to be developed for the dual use that we all know already,” Ducey said.

“Both developers have been identified, we all know about the lawsuit that was settled. We brought the new developer onboard for the sports dome and settled with the original redeveloper for the front portion of the property,” he said.

The timeline for the land began in 2003, when the township purchased the former Foodtown site for $6.1 million, and in 2009, entered into a development deal with M&M Development to build a hotel and banquet hall there.

In 2012, M&M said that a hotel was not economically feasible for the site, and proposed a new plan that included 192 condominiums, 19,000 square feet of retail space, and 72 apartments above the stores.

Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn

In 2014, the township put M&M Development on notice that their contract would be terminated if they did not abide by their original development plan, and in January 2015, M&M counter-sued the township. Superior Court Judge Craig L. Wellerson asked the parties to meet and try to settle the case out of court, which they did.

The two developers are working together on a concept plan that would be presented to the council and Planning Board, so this is the next step in the process, Ducey said.

“This amendment is a huge step in the process towards the development of the property, with ideal uses that enhance our community by removing an eyesore, and replacing it with great projects that provide our residents with yet another opportunity for connectivity with one another,” he said.

Without the amended ordinance, which was passed on its first reading, retail would be the only allowed use, Ducey said.

Photo by Judy Smestad-Nunn