BELMAR, NJ — An ambitious plan that calls for the construction of a new Belmar borough hall as part of an entire block of redevelopment was unveiled on March 20 to the borough council.
Under a public-private partnership between the borough and developer Brandywine Financial Services Corp., the project would sit on borough-owned land bounded by Main Street, River Road, and Sixth and Seventh Avenues.
On the public side, it would include a new police headquarters, municipal court and borough administrative offices in an 18,000-square-foot three-floor structure and a separate 10,000-square-foot domed gymnasium — all wrapping around the corner of Seventh Avenue and River Road. Belmar Arts Center would move from its current River Road location to gallery space on the Main Street side of the project.
On the private side, there would be 206 residential units on four floors and retail space on the first floor along Sixth Avenue. A five-story parking deck with a River Road entrance would provide some 500 spaces — 130 for borough workers and the public and 370 for residents of the apartments, plus 20 surface spots for the public.
While the borough would contribute the property to the project, Brandywine would construct the project, according to the proposal. Belmar and Brandywine would enter into a 25-year financial agreement and lease purchase agreement with the estimated tax revenue on the project paying for the construction of the new municipal building, under the partnership.
In making a presentation to the council, Belmar Business Administrator Colleen Connolly expressed the need for new borough offices, especially since significant investments will soon be required to keep the current building at 601 Main Street operational.
While most of the council members had reservations about the project’s scope and size, particularly its five-story height, its majority — Council President Brian Magovern, Thomas Brennan and Jennifer Nicolay — voted to move the conceptual plan forward.
Councilman Mark Walsifier voted against it, citing specific concerns about its size and scope in relation to traffic, school services, and fire and first aid services.
The presentation was attended by numerous borough employees who came out to show their support of the project, including Chief Financial Officer Robbin Kirk, Public Works Director Michael Campbell and Belmar Detective Captain Thomas Cox .
“You see a lot of folks in the audience who work in this building every day, Connolly said. “The fact they’re here at a council meeting after hours speaks to why this project is so close to our hearts.”
Based in Chadds Ford, Pa., Brandywine is a private real estate investment and management company specializing in the acquisition, development and management of retail, multifamily, office, industrial and manufactured housing assets throughout the United States.
Brandywine is currently undertaking a similar project in Jersey City.
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