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Fort Monmouth Housing Project Hits Delay

EATONTOWN: The plan to demolish and convert a blighted section of Fort Monmouth in the borough has hit another delay.

The developer planning on converting Howard Commons, a 63-acre property located on Pinebrook Road in the Fort Charles Wood Area of the fort in Eatontown, has determined that it needs more time to investigate "site conditions" on the property.

The Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA) extended the due diligence agreement of its purchase and sale agreement (PSARA) with American Properties at Monmouth, LLC by 60 days during its Oct. 18 meeting. The original PSARA was approved on April 19 and included a term which states that American Properties must close on the property within 60 days of obtaining all necessary approvals to develop the project.

Eatontown Mayor Dennis Connelly said at the most recent Eatontown Council meeting that he is hopeful that the developers will be able to move forward with the project.

"Howard Commons has run into a few more hurdles and it's going to cause more delays," Connelly said. "However, we are confident that American Properties is working hard and is eager to work through theses issues."

Connelly did not specify what the issues with the site are, but said they will likely affect the purchase price.

The PSARA states that the company will be paying $5.9 million for Howard Commons and will demolish the 52 derelict buildings on the site to make way for up to 200 owner-occupied single family detached residential units. The agreement calls an additional 51 units that will be affordable housing units which will be for sale or for rent, at American Properties' option.

The agreement also states that if American Properties is unable to build a total of 200 single-family homes for reasons "beyond American Properties control" such as wetlands in the area, the purchase price will be reduced by $45,000 per unit for the first five units that cannot be built and $60,000 per unit for the next five units for an amount not to exceed $525,000.

The amended PSARA passed by FMERA this week states that if further due diligence cause American Properties to determine that Howard Commons "is not suitable for its intended use" they will have the ability to terminate the agreement.

If a deal is reached the group may elect not to build the 15,000-square-foot retail component of the project at the corner of Pinebrook and Hope Road and can devote that portion of the site to housing or open space. The project will also feature walking trails, landscaping, improved streetscapes and connectivity to Eatotnown's adjacent sports fields. It is also expected to generate at least 13 permanent jobs or as many 28 if the retail component is built.

This is FMERA's second attempt to sell the property. The first attempt resulted in the previous developer, Hovnanian, pulling out of its deal with FMERA after they realized that high groundwater in the area would not allow them to build basements in the housing component of their plan and therefore not make as much money as they planned when selling the units.

Read more from: Eatontown

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