FLEMINGTON, NJ - Flemington Council gave its final approval to the Courthouse Square redevelopment plans Tuesday night, as developer Jack Cust filed this week for building permits to proceed with renovations of the Union Hotel.
The revised agreement calls for lower building heights and removes plans for a satellite campus for Georgian Court University. It also calls for fewer apartments, some of which will be set aside as affordable housing units to meet the borough’s COAH obligation.
A restaurant is planned inside the Union Hotel, while 78 Main Street will house a pub. A handicapped accessible ramp will link the two buildings.
There’s also a possibility that it may include a rooftop bar, although that is still under architectural review, said Cust.
The former Flemington Furs building, on Spring Street, will be taken down to make way for parking, although the site could be developed in the future.
If it is, the borough has said it would like to see a visual landmark built, something that would catch the eye of pedestrians, such as a building with a steeple or a face of balconies.
Councilman Chris Runion went so far as to suggest the council ask the developer to put a park there instead of the proposed parking lot.
"I think it would be a benefit to the residents on Spring Street and the project itself," he said.
Borough planner Beth McManus said that is an option under the plan, but it ultimately would be up to the developer.
Councilman Michael Harris offered support to Runion’s suggestion, adding that more parking could be made available if the borough took care of trees that are overpopulating a nearby parking lot, forcing its closure to residents.
In a separate resolution, the council agreed to sell the developer the building the police station is located in in exchange for a long-term lease agreement with rent assessed at $1 a year.
The arrangement will save the borough from having to relocate the department, which could cost between $3 million to $5 million in upgrades to meet state requirements, said borough redevelopment attorney Joseph Mazariti.
In addition, the council passed a resolution to begin engineering work on sewer infrastructure upgrades that will be required for the project, although they will benefit the entire borough. The project is expected to cost $6 million, with Cust paying half of it.
Some local preservation organizations expressed support for the approval of the plan.
"The Union Hotel was listed on our 10 Most Endangered Historic Places list in 2016, and we have followed the path of and engaged with the site in the years since, writing letters to and testifying in front of the Historic Sites Council in 2017,” said Emily Manz, executive director of Preservation New Jersey, after the meeting. “Preservation New Jersey felt certain then, as it does now, that new development can be achieved in ways that enhance and preserve our historic resources, while benefiting both the developer and the community. I am glad to see an agreement reached.”