TOMS RIVER – You might have noticed land being cleared on Bay Avenue near the Ocean County Mall. This is the start of a proposed retail building that will be built there. However, the tenants are not yet set in stone.
The 12,000 square foot retail building will have 49 parking spaces, according to township documents. There would be access from “both Bay Avenue and Mall Access Drive.” There are also plans for a drainage system, utilities, landscaping, and lighting.
The property is approximately 2.43 acres. It was a wooded area but all the trees were to be cut down for the development.
Plans for the building go back at least to 2015. There have been a few times that it looked like construction was about to start.
The approval given by the Planning Board had one variance. A variance is when a developer’s plan doesn’t conform to all of the rules the town set for the property. In these cases, the developer asks for a variance to allow the plan to proceed with one or more changes. The land use board then decides whether the variance is a big deal worth denying the entire plan, or if they should allow it, or make some kind of compromise.
For this particular property, 53 parking spaces were required given the size of the building but only 49 were proposed. The board saw this as a trivial difference since it’s right next to the entire parking lot of the Ocean County Mall. Mall parking is usually only an issue in December.
The Board also allowed the developer some leeway in design since it’s a retail use in a retail area. Also, the developer has agreed to install sidewalks along Bay Avenue.
One condition of approval is that the building can’t house more than four different tenants. The Board wanted to see such things as a truck turning plan and signage.
The developer is officially listed as Block 578 Bay Avenue LLC, because the property’s at Block 578, Lots 10 and 19 on the township’s tax map.
A representative from the Ocean County Mall said they did not have any additional information about potential tenants but will share it as soon as it becomes available.
The most recent new tenant at the Mall is On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina, which had a grand opening on November 14.