New construction and redevelopment lead the way, with two major initiatives moving forward in the near future. Both will spur economic development and create pedestrian-friendly communities in an urban-like setting — thus creating a downtown in one of New Jersey’s busiest commercial corridors.
“The main initiative is the redevelopment of the Route 18 corridor in the northern end of the township,” said Mayor Brad Cohen. “The idea is to stimulate new development that attracts businesses and residents, enhancing the community and reducing the tax burden for all residents long term.”
The redevelopment project is slated to begin at the end of 2018 or early 2019 and is expected to be well underway by 2020, hence the project name — 2020 Vision.
“First, the old Wonder Bread factory at 110 Tice’s Lane is scheduled for demolition and will be replaced with a mixed-use and high-amenity development,” Cohen said. “We are also working with the developers on the creation of a community-use center within this project site.”
The new properties will be highly accessible thanks to planned construction of a new cut-through roadway that will pass through the properties and connect to existing roads. This will create a parallel artery along Route 18 from Eggers to Tices and connects back to Route 18 near Lowe’s.
The second part of this initiative shaping the township’s future is centered on creating a downtown. This should bring a fresh new vibe and pedestrian-friendly community in the middle of the largest commercial corridor.
“The areas that we have identified as most conducive to this community are the currently dilapidated and under-utilized shopping centers on Route 18 South, right by the turnpike exit,” Cohen said. “We are moving forward in the first steps, which is to assemble all of the various properties. Plans call for commercial development with first-floor, service oriented businesses, an office center, hotel and residential living.”
A key component and draw of this redevelopment is centered on the township’s key location as the statistical center of the state with easy access to New York City, Jersey City, Newark and Philadelphia. With two township owned bus terminals, plus the creation of a third, this development is perfectly situated for an urban transportation center feel.
“Usually transportation centers are directly focused on proximity to trains. However, our approach is distinctly different and provides for an opportunity for us to be leaders in bus centered of development,” Cohen said. “Our bus terminals already bring more commuters into New York City than all but four or five train stations, and with significant potential for growth, we see this as a key component and draw for people to want to come to an area where they will be able to live, work and play.”
East Brunswick’s commercial corridor is already making a strong comeback, but this type of development will provide the catalyst to push that into overdrive.
By Cathy Cuthbertson