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Plans For Long Branch's Lower Broadway Presented

LONG BRANCH: The public got a chance to see the plans for Long Branch's Broadway Arts Center (BAC) redevelopment area for the first time on Tuesday, Nov. 28.

Diversified Realty Advisors Managing Partner Nicholas Minoia presented the plans to the Long Branch Council and said the overall plan includes 590 market rate rental units, 99,500 square feet of commercial space, 1,255 parking spaces in 2 parking decks and the construction of a boulevard. The commercial space will be located on the first floor of the buildings with four floors of residential units located above them.

The BAC encompasses the area east of Liberty Street to Memorial Avenue and from Union Avenue south to Belmont Avenue, with Broadway running through the zone. Diversified Realty Advisors, operating as Long Branch Partners, LLC acquired this stretch of Broadway in June, 2014, paid back taxes and finished demolishing all the buildings in the zone over the course of 2017.

The project will be built in four phases with the first phase located in the northeast quadrant of the zone and will include the construction of the boulevard, 28,000 square feet of retail and 166 residential units.

For construction of the first phase to commence, Long Branch Partners need a redevelopment agreement from the city council, preliminary site plan approval from the Long Branch Planning Board and a financial agreement with the city for a $5 million redevelopment area bond (RAB) for the construction of the boulevard.

Long Branch Attorney James Aaron said the city still holds mortgages on several properties in the BAC and that as part of the redevelopment agreement, Long Branch Partners will acquire this remaining land for $1.2 million by Dec. 21.

Minoia said he hopes to see all these steps occur within the next 3-4 months and then begin construction in the late spring/early summer of 2018.

"It's a very optimistic time period because we have a lot of work to do," Minoia said.

He said once 75-85 percent of the newly-constructed space is rented, it will "trigger" the beginning of the development of phase 2.

Phase 2 will include 20,100 square feet of retail with 173 residential units in the southeast quadrant of the zone.

The third phase will be located in the northwest portion of the zone and includes 28,500 square feet of retail, 108 residential units and the construction of the first of two multi-level parking decks with 534 parking spaces. A building containing 30 units of affordable housing will also be built off site as part of the third phase. The location will "be determined at a later date," according to Minoia.

The fourth and final phase will consist of 22,500 square feet of retail, 143 residential units and the second multi-level parking deck with 590 parking spaces. The two parking decks will also require RABs from the city, but that amount was not discussed on Tuesday night.

Minoia said the entire project includes wide sidewalks and is "pedestrian-friendly" and that the widened boulevard will support foot traffic and pop up shops.

"We own three liquor licenses so we feel that will be very effective in getting the type of tenants we are looking for," Minoia told Word On The Shore earlier this year. "Retail is currently under pressure from online shopping options so food and beverage will be key."

Councilman John Pallone asked Minoia about his partnership's "financial capability" to complete the project.

"We have a 40-year track record with building multi-family in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut and as a firm we have 1,000 units currently under construction, several hundred million dollars of construction loans under our guarantees, we're managing thousands of apartments," Minoia said. "We are more than capable, qualified and financially suited to handle the construction here."

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