The largest proposed transit village in New Jersey got the go-ahead on May 17 when the North Brunswick Township Council adopted a mixed-use zoning ordinance to redevelop the 212-acre former Johnson & Johnson property on Route 1.

The North Brunswick Transit Village is expected to anchor a NJ Transit train station (for which state approval is still needed) to 870,000 square feet of retail stores, 1,875 residential units, 375 hotel rooms, and 195,000 square feet of office space when complete.

Construction of the village, set to commence late next year, is expected to occur in two major phases. Phase I will include 300 residential units and more than 500,000 square feet of commercial space.

The plan has drawn its share of criticism — fears of big box stores and sprawl are among the top complaints the township Planning Board has heard in the development of the village. The ordinance was tabled by the Township Council last month when officials noticed a loophole that would have allowed the village to develop without the train station. But the train station is the reason for development here, as officials and developers have sought to break up the existing 14-mile gap between the Princeton Junction and New Brunswick stations. That gap is the longest on NJ Transit’s Northeast Corridor line.

North Brunswick TOD Associates. an affiliate of Garden Homes and Garden Commercial Properties of Kendall Park, bought the 1.2 million-square-foot J&J site in 2006 with the intention of re-leasing the warehouses, office, and lab space to short-term tenants. Immediately following the purchase TOD held public meetings on the idea of a transit village.

TOD states that the property represents a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to create an authentic place that will be sustainable for the next hundred years and beyond.” – Scott Morgan

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