HILLSBOROUGH, NJ -The owner of a proposed 40-acre indoor/outdoor sports facility on Mountain View Road has begun the approval process and is optimistic that work on the project will begin by summer.
Gregg Wilke, developer and owner of the Apex Sports & Events facility, also owns the HRC Gym and Fitness Center at 30 Brower Lane, a family fitness and wellness gym, offering programs and amenities for children, adults, and seniors.
The Apex project will be built adjacent to Mountain View Park.a 369-acre outdoor sports complex owned jointly by the township and Somerset County, dedicated in April, 2017.
As was the township/county complex, Apex will be built on remediated property that had been part of the Belle Mead Government Service Administration Depot, formerly owned by the federal government.
Wilke hopes to open the outdoor turf fields in the spring of 2019 and the indoor complex later that year.
Apex Land Associates LLC is purchasing the property from the Somerset County Improvement Authority. Once the deal is closed, Wilkie will turn over a 19.5-acre tract of property on Hillsborough Road to the county where he had originally proposed to build the Apex complex.
The Hillsborough Township Committee introduced two ordinances at its March 13 meeting signaling its intent to partner with Apex. The first authorizes a lease agreement with Apex Land Associates for an outdoor synthetic turf field to be installed at the complex for the exclusive use of township sports organizations; the second ordinance authorizes execution of a five-year tax exemption and abatement agreement with Apex.
A public hearing on both ordinances, approved unanimously by the Township Committee on first reading, will be held at the next Township Committee meeting March 27.
Wilke and his development team are scheduled to meet with the township Environmental Commission March 26 and the township Planning Board April 5.
The five-member Committee also voted unanimously March 13 to designate Apex as the redeveloper of the property.
In addition to the synthetic turf field designated for use by township organizations, there will be two other synthetic turf fields installed by Apex on the 40-acre expanse. All outdoor fields will be lighted.
The centerpiece of the project will be a 210,000 square foot indoor facility including two domes and what Wilke described as a hard shell building.
The larger of the two domes will enclose a full-size indoor soccer field, also suitable for lacrosse and football.
The smaller dome will be used for training programs, work outs, and fitness training. There will be indoor basketball and volleyball courts, batting cages and pitching tunnels, a mezzanine viewing area, café and concessions area, multi-purpose rooms, team rooms and space for other activities, including a kids’ adventure area with rock climbing and other family-friendly activities..
Apex will compliment the adjacent Mountain View Park facilities, creating a massive sports and recreation destination not only for township sports leagues and clubs, but for similar organizations from surrounding towns and throughout the state. It will rival similar facilities in New Jersey, according to Wilkie.
“The idea of Apex started five years ago while watching my kids on the lacrosse and soccer fields,” Wilke explained.
He and his wife Jennifer, who was born and raised in Hillsborough, have four children.
“My wife and I were exhausted from spending so many hours each weekend on the road traveling to towns throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania so they could participate in their sports,” he continued.
“”At Apex, our mission is to create a state-of-the-art unique competition and training facility for Hillsborough that serves the year-round sports and recreation needs of the local families while promoting a healthy lifestyle for the community and assisting in the development of our young athletes," Wilkie added.
Several representatives of township athletic organizations spoke in favor of the Apex facility at the March 13 meeting, including Jamie Moore, director of the Junior Raiders Youth Sports organization.
“Our local sports families are currently traveling to other towns including Flemington, Branchburg and Bridgewater to find field and court space to support their teams’ practices and games,” he said. “A sports and recreation facility such as Apex has long been the talk of the sports clubs in towns, and we are very excited to keep our families local and playing in a premiere facility located in Hillsborough.”
Rick Mantz, director of High School Relations for the Rutgers University Scarlet Knights football team and a graduate of Hillsborough High School also spoke in favor of the Apex complex.
“The need for this kind of facility in Hillsborough cannot be overstated. Sports and recreation are vital to the overall health and well-being of our youth,” he said.
“All over the country I see communities creating facilities that offer these opportunities, and it’s great to hear that Apex will bring them to Hillsborough. Mountain View is the perfect location for this indoor and outdoor athletic complex.”
The township and Apex have formulated an arrangement that guarantees 400 hours of reserved prime time for the township Parks and Recreation Department on the dedicated turf field; in addition, Hillsborough-based 501C3 non-profit organizations will be able to rent playing time at a 50 percent discount, according to Mayor Gloria McCauley.
“We are thrilled to have Apex come to Mountain View Park,” McCauley said. “It’s going to play a key role in satisfying the need for additional sports activities for our residents.”
Deputy Mayor Doug Tomson also spoke in favor of the facility.
“This is a perfect example of a public/private partnership,” Tomson said, noting that the township would be unable to afford costs associated with building a similar facility as it is faced with state-imposed spending limitations.
“This just couldn’t happen under a two percent budget cap,” he added. “Hillsborough comes out so far ahead.”
Mountain View Park is contiguous to Somerset County's 5,500-acre Sourland Mountain Preserve and in close proximity to the township’s Ann Van Middlesworth Park. It is flat and relatively open, providing a sweeping vista of the nearby Sourland Mountain.
Officials from Somerset County and Hillsborough Township officially opened the state-of-the-art athletic complex at Mountain View Park on Saturday, April 22, 2017 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
The Park includes two adult baseball fields, four youth baseball fields and one special needs Challenger Field. All fields are lighted. Amenities include batting cages, playground, pavilion, a concession/restroom facility, park maintenance facility, and a paved perimeter multi-use trail with associated parking. The facility has the potential for future development of six additional baseball/softball fields.
Somerset County and Hillsborough Township executed an offer to purchase the 369-acre property with the GSA in October of 2008. The Somerset County Improvement Authority acquired the property in April of 2009 at a cost of $15,735,000. The funds from the purchase were then applied to the environmental cleanup of the former depot.