SENTINEL North Brunswick / South Brunswick

September 20, 2012


First phase of N.B. transit village gets final approval
Retail space, residential units can now be built on Route 1

Costco Wholesale will be the first building to officially open as part of the Main- StreetNB development on Route 1 in North Brunswick. JENNIFER AMATO

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.

Buildings C1 and C2 will have 27,668 square feet of retail uses on the ground floor, and 57 residential units. C1 will be on the west face of Main Street, a four-story building with three stories of residential units above. C2 will be on the corner of 10th Avenue and will have a shared amenity deck overlooking Main Street.

On the north side of Main Street will be buildings H1 and H2, with 21,269 square feet of retail uses on the ground floors, and 49 residential units total in the two sets of three floors of living space above the retail. H2 is on the corner of Plaza Circle and Main Street, on Veterans Circle. The center of the building will have an open connection for people parking at the shops behind the building. The plaza side of H2 will have a tower element with art deco treatment. The fourth floor amenity deck will overlook the area. Building I1, on the north side of the piazza, and building I6, on the east side of the piazza, will be residential-only buildings with 45 and 34 one-story flat units, respectively. However, the ground floors will have a 21-foot ceiling height for the option of conversion into retail space at a future time.

Building I6 will also have a portion of the ground floor dedicated to a leasing office.

Buildings I2 and I5 will have 26 residential units each. The four-story walk up buildings — for reasons of lower rent and housing variation — would have two floors of one-story flats, and then two-bedroom duplex lofts entering from the third floor.

There will also be 10 garages.

Buildings I3, with 21 residential units, I4 with 21, and I7 with 21 will be located north of the pool area, and will be accompanied by eight garages with breezeways.

This totals 300 residential units in Phase 1, as is allowed by an ordinance set forth by the Planning Board.

The approximate size for the residential units would be 550 square feet to 2,000 square feet, according to John Taikina, director of planning and development for North Brunswick TOD Associates. He could not provide a ballpark figure for the expected cost of any of the residential units, he said.

The architecture will be “a beacon of quality and a beacon of beauty for the project,” Taikina said. There will be a mix of high-quality brick, stucco, Melatrim and synthetic masonry materials, he said, as well as varying heights and roof treatments to present an element of variety.

“It is an eclectic pattern that looks like it evolved over time, that looks like it was built by different people at different times,” Taikina said. “We’re creating unique. We’re creating interesting. We’re creating variety across our residential palette.”

The Main Street park area will be a “very delightful place to visit,” Taikina said, noting there will be kiosks, a lawn area, a life-size chess board and seating areas under the trees.

Also during the meeting, water and sewer utilities, landscaping, lighting and signage were discussed. Several experts under the direction of TOD Associates testified that everything Taikina discussed was accurate and complied with the Planning Board’s and CME Associates’ recommendations.

“Good. Terrific,” said Dan DiStefano, chairman of the Planning Board.

In addition, an important part of the meeting was the discussion of Costco becoming the first retailer to open on the site.

Douglas E. Brookbank said the whole building will be constructed in brick in a family of earth-tone colors, with a series of pilasters, awnings and elevations to create a change in tone along the building. There will be landscaping against the building, an arcade on the side near the rear bump out and solar panels.

This building will be “way above and beyond” the typical big-box store “from a material standpoint and design standpoint,” Brookbank said.

The developer is required, per township ordinance, to contribute to the surrounding roadway improvements before beginning construction. Aaron Road and Route 1 will be widened to five lanes; Commerce Boulevard will add one lane to the east and west approaches, making it five lanes; two additional driveways will be constructed, one north and one south of Aaron Road, to alleviate traffic on Aaron Road, with the southern driveway intended for but not limited to truck traffic, making deliveries to the retail stores on the southern end of the property; and at the intersection of Cozzens Lane, Route 1 and Adams Lane, there will be a dedicated left lane westbound, two through lanes, a dedicated right lane westbound and two receiving lanes.

Also, a decision by NJ Transit is expected regarding the train station proposal for the 212-acre site. Taikina has said that even if the go-ahead is given shortly, the station is at least five years away.

When the project is completed at 2300 Route 1 north, in a maximum of 20 years, there will be 300,000 square feet of freestanding large retail establishments, 450,000 square feet of mixed-use retail and commercial space, 50,000 square feet of freestanding commercial space, 195,000 square feet of office space, a 250,000- square-foot hotel, and 1,875 residential units, for a total of 1.25 million square feet of development on the property. All is contingent upon securing a train station on the property.