A rendering of a 180-unit townhome and apartment project on Signal Avenue in Oceanport, part of the former Fort Monmouth property, by Somerset Development — Courtesy: Cypress Community Development Corp.
By Joshua Burd
Somerset Development has landed a key local approval to redevelop a 15-acre section of Fort Monmouth, with plans calling for a mix of 180 townhomes and apartments.
The builder, which is based in Holmdel, is slated to repurpose a parcel on Signal Avenue near the Oceanport entrance to the decommissioned U.S. Army post. It expects to break ground later this year, the firm said, following this week’s planning board approval by the borough.
“This moment represents an exciting next step as we move forward with plans to reinvigorate a place with both incredible history and unique character,” said Ken Gold, vice president of acquisitions and development at Somerset Development. “We consider our contribution to Fort Monmouth’s redevelopment to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that can help transform it into a truly walkable, vibrant place to live and visit.”
Known as the Lodging Area, the development site housed barracks for the Army and runs along Parker Creek, according to a news release. The project will include 144 market-rate townhomes that will be built as new construction, with high-end interior design, rear-loaded two-car garages and resident access to a private back deck.
Somerset noted that the new townhomes will feature design and architecture that complement Fort Monmouth’s natural landscape and reflect its history. Meantime, it plans to restore and remodel two historic buildings — Gardner Hall and Scriven Hall — to create 36 affordable housing units on the site.
The community will also include a 50-foot waterfront esplanade along Parker Creek and connect to the adjacent Allison Hall riverfront promenade via a boardwalk-style walkway, the news release said. The design will specifically complement the Allison Hall parcel, which is slated for commercial and retail destinations.
“Somerset Development has an incredible history of transforming challenging sites into dynamic, thoughtfully designed projects and we’re proud to welcome them to the Fort Monmouth community,” said Bruce Steadman, executive director at Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority. “Despite the ongoing pandemic, we anticipate 2021 will see renewed acceleration and positive momentum across all new and ongoing projects. We look forward to the forthcoming addition of Somerset’s new residential community in Oceanport, as well as the rehabilitation of one the Fort’s many historic assets for reuse.”
The authority, or FMERA, is the state agency tasked with overseeing redevelopment of the entire 1,127-acre Fort Monmouth parcel. Those efforts have led to a growing list of new commercial and residential projects on the site and interest from many of the state’s top developers.
For its part, Somerset has tapped renowned designer Marianne Cusato, University of Notre Dame School of Architecture professor and partner in charge of design and development at Cypress Community Development Corp., to work on the project.
“Never has it been more important to build human-centric communities, where the public realm is a shared amenity and individual buildings work together to generate a whole which is greater than the sum of its parts,” Cusato said. “It’s a privilege to work alongside an industry innovator like Somerset Development to re-envision this historic piece of land and deliver a community that will both contribute to the economic development of the region and create a place that benefits generations to come.”