LONG BRANCH: Following years of discussion and planning, it appears that the construction of the third and final phase of Pier Village will be able to break ground soon.
The Long Branch Planning Board unanimously approved the project, granting the developers, Kushner Companies and Extell Development, final site plan and subdivision approval during its July 19 meeting.
Landscape architect Joe Melillo testified before the board and announced some small aesthetic changes for the project including changing landscape buffer between the project and Ocean Boulevard from vine-covered concrete walls to a jetty rock material.
It was also announced that the project will no longer be built in two phases and will now be built all at once.
The third phase of Pier Village will be located just north of the existing area between Melrose Terrace and Morris Avenue.
It includes about 57,000 square feet of commercial space, 269 for-sale residential units, a 79-unit hotel as well as parking and public amenities. The homes will be built two buildings in five floors over the commercial space. The hotel will have five floors and be built over retail space and the lobby area. It will feature a rooftop restaurant, outdoor dining area and pool.
A new boardwalk will also be built to connect the city's new boardwalk and the existing Pier Village boardwalk.
A 42-foot, ocean-themed carousel will also be constructed on the east side of the boardwalk as well as a stage, "misting area," concession areas, shade structures, and beach amenities.
Planning Board member and Long Branch Councilwoman Kathleen Billings questioned the fact that 289 of spaces in that lot will be used by Pier Village.
"Apparently to satisfy your parking requirement, you are depending on the city lot, using two hundred plus spaces of that lot," Billings said. "I don't understand why you are using the city lot providing compensation to the city for that lot."
Long Branch Assistant Planning Director Carl Turner said the use of the lot for overflow parking was originally approved for the previous developers, Ironstate Development, and that the approval has carried over to Kushner Companies and Extell Development.
"It's not a matter that they are using the city parking for their use, it's actually that we have bought the property to fulfill the requirement of the original approval," Turner said.
He said the compensation details are still being worked out between the city and the developers.
The developers now need to finalize their approvals for the project with the city and obtain a CAFRA permit before moving forward with the project. They have said in the past they would like to begin construction before the end of the year.