On September 22, 2021, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) awarded eight communities a total of $400,000 to help them create plans to redevelop, repurpose, or regreen stranded assets.
These renewable assets include vacant and underutilized retail or office complexes that have a major impact on local economic conditions. Each awardee will receive a $50,000 grant through the NJEDA’s 21st Century Redevelopment Program.
“COVID-19 ushered in a brand-new approach to the way we utilize space within our communities and downtowns,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan.
“The creative ideas that our awardees have for reinvigorating their stranded assets are reflective of this new mindset and each one aligns with Governor Phil Murphy’s goal of emerging from the pandemic in a fair and equitable manner,” he added.
The 21st Century Redevelopment Program was created in October 2018 as a response to the growing number of stranded assets in NJ communities and their impact on their hosts. Business, demographic, and economic trends resulted in several closures and long-term vacancies of large suburban office complexes and shopping malls. These closures impacted New Jersey communities in many ways, including loss of business traffic, decreased employment, and reductions in property ratables.
The awards will help the following communities statewide strategically plan their redevelopment:
- City of Atlantic City: The City of Atlantic City, in conjunction with Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, will author a plan on the redevelopment of the Plaza Hotel Site, a 1980s era casino resort and adjacent properties. The plan will work towards the creation of a development corridor that connects the Convention Center and a new retail development to the boardwalk and the beach.
- City of Jersey City: The City of Jersey City will fund the redevelopment planning for a former bank building in the Journal Square Commercial District. The planning process will deliver a plan that includes a draft redevelopment plan, market feasibility analysis, retail market analysis, draft Owner Participation Agreement/Owner Participation Rules, final redevelopment plan, and draft ordinances to adopt the redevelopment plan. The goal of repurposing the property is to maximize economic growth in distressed neighborhoods.
- City of Millville: The City of Millville will utilize 21st Century Redevelopment Grant funds to develop a plan and roadmap for assessing and addressing the distressed retail and commercial assets in the Glasstown Arts District. The distressed assets have both hindered efforts to grow creative economy jobs and impacted local ratables for several years.
- County of Passaic: The County of Passaic, in conjunction with Township of Wayne, will focus on a 193-acre site that was formerly the home to the Toys-R-US world headquarters. In partnership with the Township of Wayne, the William Patterson University Small Business Development Center, Point View Wayne Properties, and Dobco, the County, along with its partners, will hire a planning consultant to deliver an Adaptive Reuse Plan with a focus on the adaptive reuse of existing commercial structures.
- Pemberton Township: Pemberton Township will fund a market study focused on the redevelopment of the former Burlington County College – Pemberton Campus. The study will provide recommendations for the development of the site with a dual focus on community needs and market demands.
- Borough of Raritan: Raritan Borough will conduct a preliminary investigation of the Raritan Mall site. The investigation will set the stage for the authorship of an Area In Need of Redevelopment Plan, provide information that will assist in proposed redevelopment studies, and advance plans that will allow borough officials to reassess municipal zoning and planning ordnances in order to promote adaptive reuse of the mall site.
- White Township: White Township will analyze the long-term viability and economic sustainability of White Township Plaza, a 1960s-era retail center with abandoned supermarket anchor that was a historically significant ratable for the Township. The analysis and focus will combine a retail viability study, early stage efforts to create an Area in Need of Redevelopment plan, and a community engagement plan for the site’s future use.
- Willingboro Township: The Township of Willingboro will execute an analysis of the Willingboro Grand Marketplace site, a former 1970s mall complex in a major commercial corridor, with an aim to identify sustainable, community-focused reuse. The analysis will include a marketing study, resident and stakeholder surveys, evaluation of potential reuses, economic feasibility analysis and conceptual design ideas for the property as well as amendments to the Township’s redevelopment plan.
In response to subsequent stakeholder feedback, eligibility criteria were adjusted in 2019 to make more properties eligible while ensuring that vacant and underutilized office and retail complexes of significant scope and scale remain prioritized. The NJEDA paused the program in April 2020 as a result of the emergency COVID prevention measures and reopened applications in May 2021.