Bordentown will be home to the latest transit village project to get off the ground, with 159 apartments in the Rivergate development nearing completion.
The luxury apartments, located on Route 130 and Burlington-Bordentown Road near Newbold Island and astride NJ Transit tracks, will be ready for tenants in November, says developer Sterling Properties. One-bedroom units start at $1,400 a month, with two-bedroom flats going for $1,600 or more. The completed transit village project is expected to include more than 600 apartments and condominiums, 25,000 square feet of retail space, a light rail train station, a swimming pool, and a waterfront boardwalk.
All of it is centered around a yet-to-be-built NJ Transit light rail River Line station, making it one of many transit village projects in the area that are designed to encourage residents to commute via mass transit instead of by car. Rivergate, built on a former shipyard, is part of a 98-acre redevelopment project called Bordentown Waterfront Community.
Steven Katz, principal of Sterling Properties, has worked on other transit village projects in Woodbridge, South Orange, and Rahway. Katz says the transit village concept differs slightly from the “garden apartment” style of building common elsewhere in suburban New Jersey. Garden apartments tend to be two-story walk-ups, whereas the buildings at Rivergate will be three or four stories.
“The emphasis is on walkability and commutability,” Katz says. “It may be more centralized in terms of units per building.”
According to the promotional materials, the new apartments feature “nine-foot ceilings, premium finishes, designer espresso cabinetry, gourmet kitchens with quartz countertops and stainless steel appliances, elevator access, private parking, an outdoor resort-style swimming pool, and an exclusive community clubhouse with a state-of-the-art fitness studio.”
Another key component of the transit village concept is to create mixed-use developments that combine retail and residential uses, with apartments and condos placed over ground-level storefronts. Part of the Rivergate development is devoted to retail uses, and Katz says QuickChek has expressed interest in building a gas station and convenience store there. Katz estimates there may be a total of 8 to 10 stores other than QuickChek on the site when it is fully built.
Though the “village” part of the transit village is well under way, the “transit” part has yet to materialize. Currently, the River Line runs through the development with nowhere to stop to pick up passengers. There is already at stop on the NJ Transit River Line at West Park Street in Bordentown.
But the developers of Rivergate are hoping for another one in the middle of their development about a mile and a half south of the existing station. They say the new station has been approved but that NJ Transit has yet to allocate the $7 to $8 million needed to build it. Rail commuters and apartment tenants will share a parking lot once the stop is built.
Building a train station is not up to the property developers, but rather is the responsibility of NJ Transit, which has not announced a timetable for building the new station. “We’re very excited about this,” Katz says. “Rivergate is our first venture into [Burlington] county. It’s a great product that we’re bringing to the market.”
There are a total of 28 designated transit villages in the state. Designated transit villages are eligible for grants from a state fund that is designed to encourage smart growth.
Many transit villages have been approved for the Route 1 corridor, but none have been finished yet. Projects include Main Street North Brunswick (currently under construction); the much discussed project at the Princeton Junction station in West Windsor that has been put on hold; the Princeton University “Arts and Transit” neighborhood at the terminus of the Dinky line running into downtown Princeton (currently under construction); a transit village on the site of the former GM plant in Ewing Township (in planning stages); and a transit village on Sloan Avenue in Hamilton (partially built).
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