SOMERVILLE, NJ - The Borough Council took its first substantial step towards building a new public safety complex at its Monday night meeting, voting unanimously to designate an Arlington, Va. real estate advisory firm as the redeveloper of the 1.1-acre site on Gaston Avenue.

FD Stonewater's portfolio includes several expansive facilities occupied by federal agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, National Institute of Health, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Granville Brady, Borough Council president, said the Somerville project will be the company's first local government project.

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Still in its conceptual phase, the emergency services facility is expected to combine the borough's police department, fire department, and the Somerset County 911/emergency call center.

FD Stonewater has been hired for its expertise in designing and managing, as well as financing, according to Colin Driver, the borough's director of Economic Development.

It will take several months to come up with recommendations and designs for the multi-purpose building; it may require multiple stories to maintain the separate functions of its occupants, according to several borough officials.

Mayor Dennis Sullivan said residents and members of the volunteer fire companies will be consulted during the planning process, which is expected to take several months.

No estimates have been calculated, but it is expected that the costs of the facility will be financed with bonds by the borough and Somerset County, with debt service payments provided by Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center, which earlier this year agreed to contribute yearly payments of $311,000 through 2023 to the borough in lieu of paying taxes, according to Brady. The hospital is a tax-exempt institution and is not required to pay local taxes.

FD Stonewater is a real estate investment, development, brokerage and advisory firm with more than $10 billion in investment and acquisitions, over 45 million square feet of lease transactions and over $750 million of development for federally-occupied facilities either completed or under construction.

The 1.1-acre site at 101 Gaston Ave. has been cleared of rubble and debris, with three buildings demolished, including the former Gaston Avenue Bakery.

The Borough Council approved a resolution at Monday night's meeting authorizing the dumping of clean fill at the public safety site from the Carriage Court construction project in Bridgewater, a six-lot subdivision off of Bridgewater Avenue.