EAST BRUNSWICK – Showcasing the start of East Brunswick’s ongoing initiative to redevelop the Route 18 corridor, township officials witnessed the demolition of the old Wonder Bread factory.

East Brunswick Mayor Brad Cohen announced that, “When we spoke a couple of months ago, actually about two years ago, about doing redevelopment here in East Brunswick, we were dead serious about what we want to accomplish and that is to re-engineer East Brunswick in a way that works for residents of today and residents of the future. The first actual example of that is this project at 110 Tices Lane, remembered as the old Wonder Bread factory.”

Township Council President Sterley Stanley, Councilwoman Sharon Sullivan, council Vice President James Wendell, state Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin, East Brunswick Redevelopment Agency Executive Director Michael Hughes and other municipal officials attended the start of the demolition on June 27.

“[I] can’t tell you how happy we are to be at this point today and we are excited about the future, and everybody who is here today had a part to do with that,” Cohen said.

Wendell, who also is the chairman of the East Brunswick Redevelopment Agency, said, “It’s an exciting time in East Brunswick. We have been working on redevelopment since 2017, probably even going back to 2015, and to actually see something come to fruition and moving forward, this is a process that has taken time and has taken steps to get right, this first project we have here.”

Wendell explained that the project will not only be something for the community, but the developer is donating 8 acres back to the township.

The developer for the project is Garden Homes Development, Short Hills, according to Garden Homes Development principal Scott Loventhal.

“The town is going to use the 8 acres for a facility that is going to benefit the entire town,” Wendell said. “Right now we are thinking about an ice rink … and we’ll have some retail residential units, we’ll have some townhouses, we’ll have some apartments, all with smart development and improvements to Tices Lane and improvements to the infrastructure in the area.”

When asked about the possibility of building an ice rink at the site, Cohen responded that, “Nothing is 100%, but that is overwhelmingly likely what we want to build. That is what most of the residents have indicated they would like to see as a municipal use.”

Loventhal said the demolition phase should be completed by the end of the summer. The company will move on to the site improvements in the fall and hopefully deliver the first units in about 18 months.

The company began working with the Economic Development Authority in East Brunswick years ago to try and create a vision for the site into something that is ultimately sustainable for the future, according to Loventhal.

Loventhal said Wonder Bread’s ownership of the site simply was not sustainable.

“From our perspective, [this will be] a mixed-use community that creates a variety of housing types that allows us to kind of hedge our bets as it relates to which housing style will be sustainable, by having what will ultimately become a variety of housing types, open space, retail service, experiential retail within the project,” Loventhal said.

“We will be able to create something sustainable. We are also thrilled at the efforts that are being made with regard to this administration as it relates to upgrades to Route 18, both in terms of also creating sustainability, and the continued efforts as it relates to the benefits in this site, to mass transit at your bus transportation facility, which we will likely be offering a shuttle service to allow our residents to get access to buses to get to New York City,” he said.

Loventhal estimated the cost of the redevelopment project at $100 million.

“With 500-plus units, we need to see where the market goes in terms of building them in a staging that will allow us to keep the project healthy.

“We are putting in all of the infrastructure, all of the roads, public spaces [and] a clubhouse. We have two four-story buildings that are sitting on podiums so there will be parking below,” Loventhal continued. “We will start with one building that has about 180 units and one that has about 120 units. We will do one of those buildings first and as we work our way back we have got two or three other products types, we have individual buildings that have [an] individual garage, and then we have townhouses.”

Loventhal said this will be a six-year project for the company.

“The market continues to change. We are seeing now where we shifted most of our efforts to rentals and most of the developers are building rentals that we think there’s going to be some reliance and some potential opportunities for the townhouse product …” Loventhal said.

For more information about redevelopment in East Brunswick, visit www.eastbrunswick.org/content/202/257/default.aspx.

Contact Vashti Harris at vharris@newspapermediagroup.com.

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