TOMS RIVER – The Department of Veterans Affairs has issued an award to a Toms River plan to build a new “Community Based Outpatient Clinic” off of Hooper Avenue.
The current facility, the James J. Howard clinic on Route 70 in Brick, has long been considered too small for the amount of people who use it. Parking and traffic also make it difficult to access.
The new building would be 68,000 square feet and have 480 parking spaces. The exact location would be between Seacourt Pavilion Shopping Center and the Esplanade Office Park on Hooper Avenue, behind the currently vacant Capital One bank.
This is called the Hooper-Caudina Redevelopment Area. Caudina is the road that comes out from Seacourt and meets a traffic light across from the big Presbyterian church.
Other plans for that property will include apartments and retail. The township has also been trying to get the post office moved from downtown Toms River to this location.
The same site was previously selected by the VA in 2019, but the prospective developer at that time declined the lease in early 2020. This caused the VA to restart the site selection process. In less than three weeks, the Township managed to finalize a redeveloper designation with FD Stonewater, township officials said.
The plan was submitted by FD Stonewater of Arlington, VA, which describes itself as a “boutique real estate brokerage, investment, development and asset management firm with national capabilities.”
“This is a big win for the veterans of Ocean County and surrounding counties because they will no longer need to find transportation to East Orange for many of their needs,” Mayor Maurice Hill said. “In addition, the Ocean County’s new Social Services Building will be constructed right next to the new VA clinic site and will include the Ocean County Veterans Service Bureau, which provides ‘one stop shop’ convenience for many of the needs of the men and women who heroically served our nation. It is the least we can do for them. I’d like to thank Congressman Kim and his staff, as well the County Commissioners, County Administrator and County Engineer and their staff for their help and coordination over the past year.”
The timeline for construction will likely take several years, as it has to go through local, county and federal planning and approvals.
It is unclear what will happen to the clinic in Brick after the new one opens. The lease on that one ended in 2020, but a “bridge lease” would be enacted until a replacement is finished. Brick officials had offered two locations to keep it in town.
“We applaud the announcement that a new state-of-the-art VA clinic will be coming to Toms River. This will provide easy access to our veterans seeking medical care. We have many WWII, Korea and Vietnam veterans that have difficulty traveling long distances for the medical care they need. When constructed, this will provide a short and convenient ride for them. We owe the best medical care it to each and every veteran for their service to our country,” Berkeley Mayor Carmen Amato said.
“We have a tight schedule to deliver this important facility, but we are accustomed to navigating similar timelines, meeting the agency’s requirements, and successfully delivering specialized facilities for Federal Government tenants,” said Claiborne Williams, founding partner of FD Stonewater. “The Township was extremely professional and responsive during this process and we’ve established a collaborative working partnership. We could not have won this procurement without the assistance of Mayor Hill and the Township’s professional staff. We’d like to thank the Township Administrator, Lou Amoruso; the Township Assistant Attorney, Anthony Merlino; Township Planner, Dave Roberts; and Township Engineer, Bob Chankalian for their work on behalf of our proposal, as well as the Township’s Special Counsel on Redevelopment, Brian Nelson of Archer & Greiner P.C.”
Founding partner Richard Mann added, “It was a long road to get to this point, but now the real work begins. Our team is ready to get started and we are honored to participate in such an important project for our nation’s veterans and this community”.