An aerial view of Fort Monmouth’s Parcel B, an 80-acre redevelopment site that is slated to become a mixed-use hub for business and community engagement — Courtesy: Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority
By Joshua Burd
One of the top parcels at the former Fort Monmouth site is back on the market, as state officials seek a new plan for bringing residential and commercial uses to the 80-acre development site.
Known as Parcel B, the tract has a prominent location at the base’s entrance along Route 35 in Eatontown. The Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority, which oversees redevelopment at the former U.S. Army installation, is now planning to solicit bids to acquire and redevelop the parcel after ending discussions with a previously selected developer.
The authority said it will seek a medium-density, mixed-use project, with a requirement that any proposal include 302 residential units.
“The revised Request for Offers to Purchase (RFOTP) for this parcel was drafted with the Fort Monmouth Reuse and Redevelopment Plan’s (Reuse Plan’s) vision in mind,” Bruce Steadman, FMERA’s executive director, said in a prepared statement. “However, as a result of the implications of recent market shifts, specifically in retail, we expect to be more flexible on the mix of commercial uses permitted.”
The announcement comes three years after Paramount Realty Services, a Lakewood-based firm, proposed the development of a sleek, mixed-use lifestyle center at Parcel B. The firm in 2017 received the highest score through a request for offers to purchase process, but ultimately withdrew its proposal in early 2018, reportedly due to doubts from prospective retailers.
FMERA subsequently engaged Lennar Corp., the second-highest scorer, but recently terminated a sale and redevelopment agreement with the national homebuilder, according to an agency board memo. The authority now hopes to issue a new request for offers to purchase in the coming weeks, as it continues to seek a “transformative” project with amenities that activate public spaces for walking and gathering in public plazas and outdoor seating areas.
Agency officials said they are eager to re-envision the project in way that leverages new and unique approaches to mixed-use development and maximizes the economic impact to the surrounding communities, noting that the delivery of goods and services has changed dramatically over the past 10 years. To that end, FMERA aims to target a broader mix of commercial uses and small-scale, complementary retail amenities that will create a hub for business and community engagement.
Redevelopment of the property will be subject to FMERA’s master plan for Fort Monmouth, its land use regulations and design and its development guidelines, which serve as the zoning overlay for the property, according to a news release.
“FMERA maintains that the highest and best use of the site is as a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly development with residential and a combination of commercial, cultural, entertainment and retail uses,” said Sarah Giberson, FMERA’s marketing and development manager.
Such a project would join other developments at the landmark property, which spans roughly 1,000 acres across Eatontown, Oceanport and Tinton Falls. The federal government closed the base in 2011 after it had served for more than 90 years as the Army’s hub for developing communications technology, intelligence and reconnaissance services, striking a blow to the local economy and prompting ambitious redevelopment efforts by the state.
To date, the reuse and redevelopment has activated 1 million square feet of commercial space and more than 200 residential units, along with civic and entertainment uses, FMERA said. Some 20 parcels have been sold and 16 parcels are currently under contract, in negotiation or in the development pipeline.