One Geoffrey Way in Wayne — Courtesy: Dobco Inc.
By Joshua Burd
The state is helping to jumpstart efforts to repurpose the sprawling former Toys R Us campus in Wayne, thanks to one of eight newly approved grants by the Economic Development Authority.
The agency, which announced the funding on Wednesday, said it will provide $50,000 to Passaic County and other stakeholders seeking to lure new users to the distinctive, 630,000-square-foot complex. The group will use the funds to hire a planning consultant that would craft an adaptive reuse plan for the 193-acre site, with a focus on reusing the existing commercial structures.
The EDA is making the grant under its 21st Century Redevelopment Program, noting that county officials are working in conjunction with the township of Wayne, the William Patterson University Small Business Development Center, Point View Wayne Properties and Dobco Inc.
“COVID-19 ushered in a brand new approach to the way we utilize space within our communities and downtowns,” said Tim Sullivan, the EDA’s chief executive. “The creative ideas that our awardees have for reinvigorating their stranded assets are reflective of this new mindset and each one aligns with Governor Phil Murphy’s goal of emerging from the pandemic in a fair and equitable manner.”
Dobco acquired the campus in 2019, following Toys R Us’ bankruptcy and liquidation. The complex, which was built in 1962 and served as the original headquarters for American Cyanamid, was completely renovated when the iconic retailer took occupancy.
One Geoffrey Way sits east of Route 202 and fronts on the Point View Reservoir, on a wooded and rolling site located in the northern end of Wayne. Getinge US, a health care products company, announced in May 2020 that it would lease 44,000 square feet at the campus for its U.S. sales and service unit, but other news about the site has been hard to come by.
The EDA on Wednesday announced seven other recipients under the 21st Century Redevelopment Program:
City of Atlantic City: The city, in conjunction with Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, will author a plan on the redevelopment of the Plaza Hotel Site, a 1980s-era casino resort and adjacent properties. The plan will work toward the creation of a development corridor that connects the Atlantic City Convention Center and a new retail development to the boardwalk and the beach.
City of Jersey City: The city will fund the redevelopment planning for a former bank building in the Journal Square commercial district. The process will deliver a plan that includes a draft redevelopment plan, market feasibility analysis, retail market analysis, draft owner participation agreement/owner participation rules, a final redevelopment plan and draft ordinances to adopt the redevelopment plan. The goal of repurposing the property is to maximize economic growth in distressed neighborhoods.
City of Millville: The city will utilize grant funds to develop a plan and roadmap for assessing and addressing the distressed retail and commercial assets in the Glasstown Arts District. The distressed assets have both hindered efforts to grow creative economy jobs and impacted local ratables for several years.
Pemberton Township: The municipality will fund a market study focused on the redevelopment of the former Burlington County College Pemberton Campus. The study will provide recommendations for the development of the site with a dual focus on community needs and market demands.
Borough of Raritan: The community will conduct a preliminary investigation of the Raritan Mall site. The investigation will set the stage for the authorship of an Area In Need of Redevelopment Plan, provide information that will assist in proposed redevelopment studies and advance plans that will allow borough officials to reassess municipal zoning and planning ordnances in order to promote adaptive reuse of the mall site.
White Township: The municipality will analyze the long-term viability and economic sustainability of White Township Plaza, a 1960s-era retail center with abandoned supermarket anchor that was a historically significant ratable for the township. The analysis and focus will combine a retail viability study, early stage efforts to create an Area in Need of Redevelopment plan and a community engagement plan for the site’s future use.
Willingboro Township: Local officials will execute an analysis of the Willingboro Grand Marketplace site, a former 1970s mall complex in a major commercial corridor, with an aim to identify sustainable, community-focused reuse. The analysis will include a marketing study, resident and stakeholder surveys, evaluation of potential reuses, economic feasibility analysis and conceptual design ideas for the property as well as amendments to the township’s redevelopment plan.