A conceptual rendering of a redevelopment plan for Loehmann’s Plaza on Route 18 in East Brunswick — Courtesy: Township of East Brunswick
By Joshua Burd
Local officials in East Brunswick have put out a call to developers, seeking proposals to repurpose and revitalize a blighted shopping center on a busy stretch of Route 18.
The township’s redevelopment agency has issued a request for proposals for the defunct Loehmann’s Plaza and the surrounding areas on the southbound side of the highway. Officials say they’re seeking to turn what is currently an outdated property on 30 acres into a modern, mixed-use village that will blend seamlessly into a new downtown-like setting.
As part of its effort, East Brunswick plans to pursue the creation of a third commuter parking structure and an additional bus terminal to support the high demand for non-rail transportation options into New York City, according to a news release. The redevelopment area, which sees traffic of close to 100,000 vehicles daily, is less than a mile from the New Jersey Turnpike.
All responses are due to Frank Colon, executive director of the East Brunswick Redevelopment Agency, by 10:00 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018.
The move follows a year-and-a-half period in which the township, led by Mayor Brad Cohen and Councilman James Wendell, launched a redevelopment agency with five public members who are professionals within the development and financial sectors, the news release said. Wendell, a developer by trade, chairs the agency and is assisted by James Kennedy, the former Rahway mayor who has overseen transit-oriented redevelopment in that city and throughout the state.
“This is an exciting time for the township of East Brunswick and the East Brunswick Redevelopment Agency,” Wendell said in a prepared statement. “If not for the bold steps taken by Mayor Cohen, to form the redevelopment agency, and use the tools allowable under the state guidelines for redevelopment, we would never have been able to reach this point.
“We are on the cusp of turning these vacant and blighted properties into valuable revenue-producing assets that will benefit all stakeholders, from the existing retail community along the Route 18 corridor, to the East Brunswick commuter as well as all residents of East Brunswick.”
Last summer, the township designated the blighted shopping center as an area in need of redevelopment under state law and retained the right to use eminent domain, the news release said. The redevelopment agency has since unveiled a redevelopment plan for that area and several others.
The town is issuing two RFPs separately, with Redevelopment Area 2A including Loehmann’s Plaza and its surrounding area, while Area 3A includes the 18 Central shopping center, the former Gap and Wiz building and its surrounding area. Developers may submit their ideas and vision for one area, both areas or join with other respondents on their responses.
Interested parties can attend an optional information session at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5, at the East Brunswick Community Arts Center at 721 Cranbury Road. Agency professionals will be on hand to present and answer questions about the plan.