The last concept plan was presented to the Redevelopment Agency in August by AST Development. The proposal called for 219 rental apartments in a five-story building but no retail space and 196 ground-floor parking spaces. A two-story gym and recreation center for residents would occupy about 5,840 square on the third floor. A leasing office would occupy about 970 square feet.
This is at least the third version of a plan for the Center Circle site to get as far as the Redevelopment Agency. Previous versions both proposed about 250 units. One concept from 2013, also by AST Development, called for three, five-story buildings while another by Heartstone Development proposed one building in 2014. Previous proposals were scuttled because of environmental remediation that complicated sale of the property. Heartstone was the developer of River Place on Lewis Street and also partnered with AST Development on Metro Rahway on Campbell Street.
The 3.5-acre site has been for sale for several years. The property (Block 305, Lot 5.04) most recently was assessed for $1.2 million, generating taxes of about $79,500, according to property records. It’s likely that the developer would request a Payment In Lieu Of Taxes (PILOT) for the project, something City Council has approved for most every downtown development.
Before the Great Recession, there were grander plans for the area around City Hall. The concept plan for Town Center project got approvals from the Redevelopment Agency and City Council and even was recognized with a New Jersey Future Smart Growth Award in 2008.
Town Center proposed 375 residential units (a mix of rental apartments, condominiums and townhomes), 125 hotel rooms, 175,000 square feet of new Class A retail, 375 residential units and various entertainment venues, such as outdoor theater and festivals. The plan also would have relocated City Hall and police station on site. Of course, the housing market collapsed, bringing on the Great Recession, which upended or slowed down most every real estate development.