TOMS RIVER – Approximately 560 new housing units are proposed in two new multi-level complexes being discussed for the downtown area.
The town is looking to arrange a redevelopment agreement with Capodagli Property Company, LLC. This is when a town arranges for a developer to take something that exists and totally rework it.
They would be located on the block where the Red Carpet Hotel now exists, and on a parking lot that’s built on a hill up Irons Street, near the bank.
Red Carpet has been purchased by the town and will be demolished. It had been a centerpiece for illegal activity in the area. Very little can be built in its place, officials have said, because of how close it is to a bridge over the Toms River and Water Street. That area saw a lot of flooding during Superstorm Sandy and one way to prevent it from happening again is to use that land as a kind of buffer.
The redeveloper would build a waterfront park there. They would partner with the town in the design and construction of the park along the river. It would keep the existing boat launch and include flood mitigation, township planner David Roberts said.
The Meridia Waterside project, on the same block as the existing Red Carpet, would have two floors of parking that would be shared during business hours with the Music Academy, Ocean Mental Health and other places, Roberts said. The redeveloper wants to relocate the Poseidon Academy into the street level floor of the new building. This is the small standalone building with the painting of waves on the side designating how high the waters came during Sandy.
There would be a two-floor restaurant with a roof-top lounge overlooking the water. This restaurant would be run by the redeveloper.
The property on Irons Street is currently a parking lot built on a slight hill across from Wells Fargo Bank. This is the location that the fire company wanted to use for a new station a few years back. The plan, as it stands now, is to have an apartment complex there.
The Meridia Overlook is proposed to be a total of eight stories. However, since it’s built into a hill, it would only be six stories on the high side of the hill. Four of those stories would be parking.
Parking is already a problem in downtown Toms River, and any new development would likely bring more vehicles.
These two existing parking lots provide 300 spaces for the downtown area. There are 200 near Red Carpet and 100 on Irons, Roberts said.
The proposal would replace these with 1,060 public parking spots between the two locations.
Any amount of new development would bring with it concerns of how many children would be entering the school district. There are a total of 560 units between the two buildings.
A majority of the apartments would have one or two bedrooms, Roberts said. Development projects are required to set aside some units for those of low-to-moderate income. Those units would have three bedrooms, per state regulations.
These plans are not set in stone. The town will negotiate the specifics of a redevelopment agreement. This might change any of the factors mentioned above. Also addressed in this agreement would be the timeline and any improvements the redeveloper would do offsite but nearby, that would be used by the tenants, such as roadways to the bus terminal or park upgrades. They still have to go through the same process that other developments have to go through as they get evaluated by the planning board.
The redeveloper has stated that the project would take less than two years to complete each of the two phases.
The project is estimated to cost the redeveloper $114 million. They are looking to give Toms River a payment of $1,056,385 annually for 30 years in lieu of taxes, which the redeveloper estimates as more than the township would normally receive in tax revenue from these buildings.