Redevelopment project to bring East Brunswick into the 21st Century

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The leaders of a Middlesex County town say that a redevelopment project will bring the town into the new century.

Route 18 is one of New Jersey’s major highways and it runs through the heart of East Brunswick. Developers town officials say that a project along the highway will bring life back to the town.

“We’re developing something that people will want to live in tomorrow. Not today, certainly not yesterday,” says Warren Waters with River Development Equities.

Waters says that they are developing what he calls a “lifestyle center.” It is a template that other parts of the country are already using – one that is only now catching on in the Northeast. It will mean closing some businesses along the highway, as well as getting rid of many boarded-up storefronts.

And while some East Brunswick residents say that they will be sad to see some of these longtime businesses close, the developers say that there will be opportunities for the businesses in the future.

“While no one has a crystal ball, we understand where the trends are going and this is going to be able to provide an outlet to these retailers who might want to move into a more modern space,” says Michael Hughes with the East Brunswick Redevelopment Agency.

The redevelopment project would provide living space for young and older residents. There would be 800 housing units on 45 acres of land. The multimillion-dollar project would also include a bus depot, parking deck and restaurants.

The developers say that the one thing that they will try to limit is retail space since brick-and-mortar stores are having a hard time competing with online retail.

Some East Brunswick residents tell News 12 New Jersey that they are skeptical, but understand that something needs to be done to revitalize the town.

“They should because…as you can see, the stores are empty. They’ve got to do something with it,” says Chris Kokoszka.

Residents do say that they are concerned about traffic issues. Mayor Brad Cohen says that he admits that there is a lot to take on.

“Traffic, schools, infrastructure, police, design, connectivity, sustainability – all those things will be addressed,” he says.

Cohen says that he wants to hear from the public and invites them to contact the mayor’s office or attend the Feb. 10 town council meeting to express their thoughts about the project.

Officials say that they hope to begin demolition by late summer. The project is expected to take five or six years to complete.

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