Transit Expands in North Brunswick
New NJ Transit station planned for Northeast Corridor rail line
Trees being cut along Rte. 1 in N.B. will be replaced
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Latest updates on the proposed transit village project:
Jonathan Frieder, managing partner of Garden Homes Development — developer of the North Brunswick Transit Village on the former Johnson & Johnson tract on Route 1 — has a smile on his face and a feeling of satisfaction these days.
His firm’s project, bordered by Aaron Road and Commerce Drive on Route 1 North, received a huge shot in the arm on January 8 when New Jersey Transit announced plans to construct a $30 million state-of-the-art train station on its Northeast Corridor line at the rear boundary of the 212-acre property.
Transit has plans for a "flyover" track and a new train station in North Brunswick to improve on-time performance and commuting choices on the Northeast Corridor — North America’s busiest rail line.
The projects would be done in conjunction with North Brunswick’s plans to turn the old Johnson & Johnson complex on Route 1 into a residential-and-retail development centered around transit. In addition, Amtrak plans to upgrade electrical wiring and signals on a straight, high-speed section of the Northeast Corridor from New Brunswick to just south of Trenton known as "The Raceway." (read more...)
Construction of MainStreetNB project is under way
The first step of the MainStreetNB mixed-use project will be to clear trees from the former Johnson & Johnson property that faces Route 1 north.
Starting this week, equipment will be visible on the section of the 212-acre property. Roughly 360 trees will be taken down during the process, though 1,400 shade trees will be replanted on the site, including maples and oaks, flowering and nonflowering varieties, according to Jonathan Frieder, principle of North Brunswick TOD Associates, the developer of the property. (read more...)
Retail space, residential units can now be built on Route 1
Construction of the MainStreetNB transit village on Route 1 can now officially begin. The North Brunswick Planning Board granted final subdivision and site plan approval for Phase 1A on Sept. 11. “They are awesome-looking plans,” Township Planner Thomas Vigna said. Several buildings will be part of Phase 1A, which includes a mix of residential, retail and restaurant uses, as well as a leasing office and piazza area. (read more...)
Construction can begin after permits secured, final plans approved
Preliminary site plan and subdivision approvals were granted for the North Brunswick transit village May 30, meaning initial construction could be just months away. The township Planning Board reviewed several items, including site circulation, existing buildings on the property, and affordable housing, before approving the application 8-1 during the third public meeting in the past two months. "Last night was a big step forward in a plan that was approved two years ago," said Jonathan Frieder, principal of North Brunswick TOD Associates, the developer of the former Johnson & Johnson property along Route 1 north. "Overall, the last three hearings are a continuation of seven years of a long collaborative effort with the residents of North Brunswick, the staff, officials and the Planning Board." (read more...)
North Brunswick will see the beginnings of a transitoriented development within the next few years.
A rendering of what the MainStreetNB project will look like when completed. The beginnings of the redevelopment of the former Johnson & Johnson site on Route 1 in North Brunswick will have retail, restaurant, office, hotel and open space. PHOTO COURTESY OF NORTH BRUNSWICK TOD ASSOCIATES, LLC On June 10, the Planning Board unanimously approved the preliminary site plan and general development plan to redevelop the 212-acre former ohnson & Johnson site off Route 1.(read more...)
The would-be transit village on the former Johnson & Johnson site
now has a new name and preliminary approvals from the Planning Board.
Jonathan Frieder, managing partner for developer North Brunswick TOD Associates, said the
development on the 212-acre site at Route 1 and Aaron Road will be called "MainStreetNB." With last week's Planning Board approval of a general development plan and preliminary site
plan for the project, Frieder said it will likely be take about a year for applications and approvals
needed before a groundbreaking could take place. (read more...)
North Brunswick TOD Associates, LLC, the owner of the 212-acre property located along Route 1 in North Brunswick (formerly the Johnson & Johnson North Brunswick Campus), is pleased to announce that a comprehensive mixed use zoning ordinance for the future North Brunswick Transit Village was adopted by North Brunswick Township on Monday, May 17, 2010
The zoning ordinance, containing over 50 pages of comprehensive regulations on a mix of uses and architecture was created by the North Brunswick Planning Board. The ordinance, including numerous design elements, street designs and architectural requirements created a zoning template for an authentic new Main Street, which will be anchored by a proposed NJ Transit train station. (read more...)
The Township Council narrowly approved the introduction of a zoning ordinance Monday night that would allow a mixed-use transit village on the former Johnson & Johnson site at Route 1 and Aaron Road.
The ordinance passed on first reading by a 3-2 vote. Councilman Carlo Socio was absent. The measure will be up for a public hearing and final adoption on April 19.
"We just see it as a major plus for North Brunswick and for the residents of North Brunswick for many years down the road," said Councilman Bob Davis, a former Planning Board member.
Councilman Ralph Andrews, who currently sits on the Planning Board, noted that township officials have been studying the idea for about five years and crafted the ordinance in such a way that it would only allow the full transit village to be built if NJ Transit builds a train station on the site, which sits along the Northeast Corridor rail line. (read more...)
The Township Council is slated to introduce a zoning ordinance Monday that would allow construction of a transit village on the former Johnson & Johnson site at Route 1 and Aaron Road.
The introduction is slated for 7 p.m. Monday at the township's municipal building, 710 Hermann Road. If approved, the ordinance would be up for a public hearing and final adoption on April 19.
Mayor Francis "Mac'' Womack said he believes the township has completed a thoughtful analysis of the project over the past few years and is now prepared to move forward.
"I'm proud of the process,'' he said. "Every time it seems that we've gotten a little ahead of the public, or that we're concerned that people who are paying attention to what goes on might not be fully up to speed, we've stopped and slowed down.'' (read more...)
The proposed Route 1 transit village would be an overall fiscal plus for the township and bring a relatively low number of students into the school district, according to a study presented to the Township Council this week.
"I think everybody was very positive," said Councilman Bob Davis. "I know we've been worrying about it for years, and we're really excited about the numbers because the main thing that we know people will question is how many children is this going to bring in."
The study was performed by New York-based Urbanomics and compared the proposed transit village to 32 similar projects in similar communities across the United States. It was paid for by North Brunswick TOD Associates, which wants to put a mix of high-density housing, stores, restaurants, and commercial and office space around a proposed train station near Route 1 and Aaron Road.
The project has been split into two phases. Phase one would include stores, part of the development's mixed-use "Main Street," and about 300 residential units. The full build-out would include a total of 1,875 units, including 315 affordable housing units. (read more...)
N.B. Officials: Traffic Improvements First, Then Transit Village
Meeting to be held Feb. 11 to obtain public input
Plans for the proposed transit village and train station in North Brunswick will move forward, as long as the developer agrees to fund improvements to Route 1 and the surrounding roadways.
TOD Associates is in the planning stages to rebuild the former Johnson & Johnson property on Route 1 north by Aaron Road. The Smart Growth-centered site will feature residential, restaurant, retail, hotel and office spaces, combined with greenways, community areas and a main street, along with a train station if approvals are met.
However, the site development is contingent upon TOD Associates complying with a new zoning ordinance that the North Brunswick Township Council could introduce during its public meeting 7 p.m. Feb. 16 at the municipal building at 710 Hermann Road.
Prior to the introduction, however, there will be a special meeting for the public to offer their input and concerns 7 p.m. Feb. 11 at the township high school on Raider Road.
“The zoning would be adopted by the governing body, but the right to build is not triggered until [the developer] complies with all of the traffic and environmental standards in the plan,” North Brunswick Township Planner Thomas Vigna said. “They have to come in with a plan that meets [the zoning specifications] or they don’t have the right to build [a transit village.]”
The 212-acre property has been in discussion for about five years, with local officials hoping that the 14-mile gap between Princeton Junction and Jersey Avenue along the Northeast Corridor Line will be decreased by adding a train stop in North Brunswick.
“We think the time is right for locating a station there … and we have some Smart Growth land use surrounding it,” TOD Associates principal John Taikina said during a status meeting Jan. 29. (read more...)
June 20, 2008
Proposed plans for a North Brunswick Train Station and Transit Village just got a $3 million boost from the state Department of Transportation, which will help fund a feasibility study.
The grant will be given to Middlesex County, primarily to examine ways to connect Route 130 and Route 1 in the vicinity of the station proposed for a 212-acre former Johnson & Johnson campus. In addition to a new stop along the New York to Trenton Northeast Corridor rail line, initial plans include a hotel and commercial and residential sites.
The former J&J site, including its 1.2 million square feet of building space, was purchased by North Brunswick TOD Associates, LLC, an affiliate of Garden Homes and Garden Commercial Properties, in summer 2006.
"The overall project is not one that's just good for North Brunswick, but one which would be good for the entire region and the entire state," North Brunswick Mayor Francis Womack said. "It is good that the state and the county are having the foresight to do this study not only when you look at the long-term economics for the region, but the day-to-day battle everyone has with gas prices. This is the kind of thing we need to be doing, and you can't have a Transit Village without the infrastructure.
"A study showing how much it will cost is a step in the right direction."
In a letter to Middlesex County Freeholder Director David B. Crabiel, dated May 28, state DOT Commissioner Kris Kolluri noted that the area between Route 130 and Route 1 in the proposed location "is made up of large expanses of wetlands, streams and forested areas." Kolluri added that the key for success in coming up with a viable plan will depend upon "coordination with the Department of Environmental Protection, New Jersey Transit and Amtrak."
Kolluri's letter proposed that Middlesex County assume the lead for the initial phases of the study and that in order for the DOT to fund successive phases of work, "this initial study must conclude that the project is feasible and fundable."
A new train station in North Brunswick would fill the largest gap in the New Jersey Transit System — a 14-mile stretch between the New Brunswick/Jersey Avenue stop and the Princeton Junction station.
North Brunswick has held a series of town meetings regarding the project which is conservatively estimated to cost about $100 million to complete.
Womack noted that NJ Transit has plans to install a loop for trains to turn around just south of the proposed station.
"We do know that the bigger picture is that in terms of the state of New Jersey and the towns, we've all got to get together and get our economic situation straightened out so that the Department of Transportation will have money to give us so we can actually have these things that we need."
NORTH BRUNSWICK - A seminar on the environmental impacts of land use and planning was held April 30 at the Yellowbird Reception Center on the former Johnson & Johnson property on Route 1.
North Brunswick TOD Associates, which is developing the proposed mixeduse transit village on the site, hosted a workshop on the Urban Land Institutepublished study, "Growing Cooler: The Evidence on Urban Development and Climate Change," in conjunction with New Jersey Future and Smart Growth America. The workshop featured various speakers discussing the effects transportation and sprawl have on the environment and how more compact development could limit future effects.
North Brunswick Councilman Ralph Andrews began the program, saying "credible science has determined, as we know now, that global warming is a problem."
As the liaison to the North Brunswick Planning Board and the Open Space Committee and as the chairman of the North Brunswick 2030 Committee, he said the goal must be to reduce emissions soon because by the year 2030, oil shortages are expected, and by 2050, "We see big problems starting in the environment, and thereon out."
David Goldberg, the communications director for Smart Growth America, said that even by 2020, a 15- to 30-percent reduction in emissions from 1990 levels are needed - and today we are 20 percent above those levels.
He said this reduction is "impossible" without a reduction in transportation because transportation emissions are onethird of the U.S.'s carbon dioxide emissions and are the largest single contributor of greenhouse gases. He said the U.S. is responsible for 45 percent of the car emissions in the world. He said the amount of emissions is a combination of miles per gallon, fuel carbon content and vehicle miles traveled.
The former Dartmouth College and Columbia University graduate said that if the current trend continues, the total number of miles driven in this country will grow by 59 percent by 2030.
"Vehicle miles traveled are growing faster than population growth," he said. "We can get pretty close to our goal - if we stop driving."
Goldberg said the Growing Cooler study analyzed sprawl, traffic studies, project level scenarios and regional planning scenarios. He said putting residents in walkable communities vs. suburban sites cuts down emissions by about 30 percent. He said on average, people in lowwalkable neighborhoods drive 39 more miles per person each work day and 40 percent more on weekends.
He also said shifting 60 percent of new growth to walkable areas could save 85 million metric tons of carbon dioxide by 2030.
"We need more choices in vehicles, we need better choices in fuel, we need better transportation and how we get around, and [better] housing locations," Goldberg said.
He also said there is an undersupply of attached and small-lot houses, with an oversupply of large-lot homes. He said two-thirds of the buildings that will be inhabited in 2050 are not built yet, and that half of the buildings expected to be built by 2030 don't exist today.
Jack Lettiere, former commissioner of the N.J. Department of Transportation and the current president of his own consulting firm, said, "Whether you believe the science or not, you have to agree it's just not a good idea to put all this stuff in the air."
Lettiere said transportation demands, congestion cycles, the dynamics of transportation, land-use changes and land-use components are all interrelated, and are normally problematic.
He said there is a "vicious cycle of congestion," where residents demand an increase in capacity, then increase their number of movements, then need a place to live, then increase their average length of travel, which causes more sprawl, which makes highways more crowded. And then the demands for more highways begin again.
"There is a large disconnect because you can't get there from here. Sometimes there is no public transportation, sometimes you can't walk … and sometimes there is a disconnect of where you put things and how to connect them when you can't get there [without a car]."
He therefore suggested linking transportation and land use, network connectivity, balanced street design, sustainable environmental design and involving the community as combatants to suburban sprawl.
Peter Kasabach, the executive director of New Jersey Future, also spoke during the seminar.
Avideo of the meeting will be available mid-month on www.OurTownCenter.info. For more information, visit www.smartgrowthamerica. org.
North Brunswick, NJ (January 8, 2008) – North Brunswick Township Council unanimously passed a resolution supporting a new rail transit station and the principles of Smart Growth at the December 17, 2007 Township Council meeting.
The resolution ‘supports a new rail transit station as a regional multimodal transportation hub at the former Johnson & Johnson North Brunswick Campus, provided existing roadway infrastructure and traffic bottlenecks are sufficiently expanded and improved.’ Earlier this year, the Planning Board had adopted a comparable resolution with unanimous support and had forwarded this resolution to the governing body for consideration and endorsement. Mayor Francis Womack said, "The resolution reflects North Brunswick's desire to be a regional center of rail transportation and smart growth principles".
The resolution supports the State’s Development and Redevelopment Plan, which ‘encourages compact, mixed-use development with access to mass transit’. It further endorsed the programs and initiatives put forth by the NJ Department of Transportation, NJ Transit, and the NJ Office of Smart Growth to ‘promote transit villages as a viable alternative to suburban sprawl that consumes open spaces, increases congestion, and contributes to air pollution’.
North Brunswick Township is a community committed to Smart Growth principles and has initiated steps to become a sustainable community, by forming the North Brunswick 2030 Committee. The committee, comprised of residents, council members and students, explores and implements plans to make the town a sustainable community by the year 2030.
The resolution also recognized the efforts of the landowner of the former Johnson & Johnson, North Brunswick TOD Associates, for hosting ‘a series of 10 public workshops and open houses over the course of one year that were attended by many township residents, and explored the possibility of a future transit village built in accordance with Smart Growth principles’.
The resolution specifically pointed to the Township’s Master Plan, which has ‘identified existing roadway infrastructure and traffic bottlenecks that must be addressed before a new rail transit station can be located at the former Johnson & Johnson North Brunswick Campus’.
The resolution added that ‘NJ Transit has been studying a location for a new rail station in Southern Middlesex County for many years’ and noted that ‘ridership recently grew by 6.8% to 74 million riders setting new records for ridership levels and substantiating the growing demand for mass transit’.
The resolution unanimously passed by the Township Council was signed by the township’s Chief Financial Officer Ronald Amorino, Business Administrator Robert Lombard and Director of Community Development Michael Hritz.