The Revitalization plans
By Elana Knopp
Fort Monmouth, a former Army installation, has an illustrious history that can be traced back to the establishment of the Signal Corps training facility in Little Silver in 1917.
Surrounded by Eatontown, Tinton Falls and Oceanport and located just five miles from the Atlantic Ocean, the post covers nearly 1,126 acres of land, from the Shrewsbury River on the east, to Route 35 on the west.
The post officially closed on September 15, 2011.
In May 2012, the State of New Jersey took a significant step forward in the redevelopment of Fort Monmouth when the first half of the property was transferred from the U.S. Army to FMERA and a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was formally signed.
The MOA for the Phase 2 properties was signed in October, 2016.
FMERA is responsible for the revitalization of the 1,126 acres that make up the former fort.
The Fort Monmouth Reuse and Redevelopment Plan was approved in 2008 and since then, a number of amendments to the Reuse Plan have been adopted by the FMERA board, in order to allow for alternative and additional development scenarios.
According to Bruce Steadman, Executive Director of the FMERA, there are plans for an estimated 1,585 residential units, 300,000 square feet of civic, government and educational uses, 500,000 square feet of retail, and 2,000,000 square feet of office, research and commercial uses.
FMERA’s Reuse Plan also includes the goal to maintain approximately 40 percent of the Fort’s acreage as open space.
FMERA has sold or transferred nine parcels to-date, according to Steadman.
“Commvault, a technology company, purchased a 55-acre parcel in Tinton Falls in 2013, and has since built an approximately 275,000 square-foot office headquarters for the company, with over 1,000 employees at the site,” Steadman told JerseyShoreVibe.
Others include AcuteCare Health Systems, who purchased a 16-acre parcel that includes the former clinic in Oceanport, and have renovated the 98,000 square-foot building for a medical facility that opened in 2015.
According to Steadman, AASKI Technology, a defense contractor and communications engineering firm, purchased a 12-acre parcel in Tinton Falls in February, 2016, through its affiliate RADAR Properties, that includes an 86,400 square-foot office building to retain over 100 jobs.
In addition, Trinity Hall, an all-girls private high school, purchased the former Child Development Center in Tinton Falls in March, 2016, and converted the building into a modern high school. The school opened its doors in September, 2015.
Just a few months ago, in January, RPM Development Group purchased 117 historic homes in Oceanport, which will be renovated to include 116 residential units and one management office. The project is the first residential development at the fort.
Triumphant Life Church purchased the Main Post Chapel in Oceanport in February, which will be renovated to serve the congregation in the coming months.
Steadman says that FMERA has sold or transferred three additional properties to Monmouth County, including a motor pool located in Eatontown, a three-acre site in Oceanport to be used for the county’s emergency homeless shelter, and approximately 3.5 acres in Tinton Falls to support the county’s Fort Monmouth Recreation Center.
Another eight parcels are under contract for planned redevelopment Russel Hall, the historic former Garrison Headquarters in Oceanport, is currently under contract and occupied by TetherView, a private cloud solutions company, which relocated to the building from Staten Island in 2016.
The former fitness center, also in Oceanport, is currently under contract to FM Partners, LLC, which plans to renovate the building as a fitness, health and wellness center.
In addition, Kiely Realty is currently under contract to purchase the former pistol range and adjacent property in Tinton Falls. The company plans to renovate and enhance the facility for public use, as well as relocate their affiliate company, Traffic Plan, to the property.
Six light-industrial former fabrication shops are under contract to Pinebrook Commerce Center, LLC, a local company that will rehab and reuse the facilities, while Lennar, a national residential development company, is under contract to build a new town center site in Tinton Falls, including 288 residential units and approximately 50,000 square feet of retail.
The county is currently operating the Fort Monmouth Recreation Center in Tinton Falls under a lease with FMERA, and plans to close on the property in the coming months.
FMERA is also under contract with AP Development Partners to refurbish the former community center at the fort, known as the Dance Hall in Oceanport, for retail and restaurant uses.
In addition, Paramount Realty recently went under contract for approximately 86 acres in Eatontown for a large retail and residential development project along Route 35. Their project is planned to include approximately 350,000 square feet of retail, 40,000 square feet of office space and 302 housing units.
FMERA is currently in active negotiations with developers on six other projects on the fort and is seeking proposals on three more sites.
Steadman said that while some buildings will be razed, many will be preserved, including historic structures.
“The fort includes a mix of buildings, some of which are marketable and attractive for adaptive reuse potential,” Steadman said. “However, many of the buildings are obsolete and envisioned for tear-down and sale for new construction. All buildings within the Fort Monmouth National Historic District will be retained and preserved.”
According to Steadman, the Reuse Plan envisions a 20-year redevelopment plan, although FMERA is on track to complete the redevelopment of the Fort ahead of schedule.
Steadman says that the Reuse Plan centers around developing and promoting a thriving economy, creating jobs, and preserving natural resources.
“FMERA worked with the local stakeholders, including the boroughs of Oceanport, Eatontown and Tinton Falls, as well as the County of Monmouth, to create a Reuse Plan that promotes, develops, encourages and maintains employment, commerce, economic development and the public welfare, as well as conserving natural resources and advancing the general prosperity and economic welfare of the people in the surrounding communities and throughout the state,” said Steadman. “FMERA’s redevelopment strategy projects approximately 10,000 jobs to be created to replace the jobs lost when the fort closed, as well as over $1.5 billion in investment into the former fort. It is our belief that the residential, retail and early tech projects that have been the initial drivers of redevelopment at the Fort will spur the growth of a tech cluster, supporting innovation and sustainable growth for the region.”
FMERA has been working closely with host municipalities, said Steadman, and that feedback from the public is welcomed.
“FMERA has a strong working relationship with the host municipalities and the County of Monmouth,” Steadman said. “As voting members of the FMERA board, the mayors of Eatontown, Tinton Falls and Oceanport, as well as Freeholder Lillian Burry, have been active voices in the fort’s redevelopment strategies and FMERA welcomes their input and feedback on projects throughout the fort. Members of the public are encouraged to attend FMERA’s monthly public board meetings, as FMERA continues in its efforts to maintain transparency and dialogue with the local residents, and to visit FMERA’s website.”
For more information about FMERA visit www.fortmonmouthnj.com.