Long Branch Partners spent the better part of a year demolishing 53 buildings in the blighted Lower Broadway streetscape.
Now, the real estate development group said the roughly nine-acre urban tract is “ready for site development.” It proposes investing $175 million to rejuvenate the city’s downtrodden historic main drag.
“We’re probably three to four months from having plans that can be submitted to the Planning Board for approval,” Nicholas Minoia, managing partner of Long Branch Partners, told the mayor and City Council at a recent workshop.
The plans include the construction and engineering designs for a mixed-use commercial and retail redevelopment that will consist of 590 market-rate rental apartments, 99,500 square feet of retail, two parking decks and road improvements.
The buildings, which can be seen in the above video, will be five stories with first-floor retail and restaurants and four stories of residences. The architects are Bryce Turner and Bob Northfield of BCT Architects, Baltimore.
“The theme here is very walkable, wide sidewalks (that are) pedestrian friendly. This is all about retail and residents (and) creating a nightlife off the beach,” said Minoia.
Minoia said the monthly rents for the apartments are projected to be around $2,000.
The construction will be done in four phases, starting at the northeast corner of Broadway and Second Avenue with 28,000 square feet of retail and 166 apartments.
When 75 percent to 80 percent of the first phase is rented out, Long Branch Partners will begin the second phase, on the southeast corner of Broadway and Second Avenue, and then work west on Broadway.
Minoia said they will use local labor for the work.
Lower Broadway is four blocks between Second Avenue and Liberty Street and Union and Belmont avenues. The neighborhood is one block from the beach but has been in an economic downturn since the advent of shopping malls.
The city designated it for redevelopment in 1996 but was slow to make good on that promise.
Long Branch Partners, an affiliate of Diversified Realty Advisors, acquired 51 of the properties in the corridor in 2014 from Broadway Arts Center, which had struck an ambitious redevelopment agreement with the city back in 2006, but then defaulted on its loans.
Issues between the city and Long Branch Partners – over taxes, ownership interests, code violations and design plans – had stalled redevelopment but have been worked out.
City attorney James Aaron said Long Branch Partners and the city still need to finalize a Redevelopers Agreement. Aaron said part of that agreement will be a city agreement to finance $5 million in road improvements as well as subsidizing the parking garages.
“We would love to have this project coming out of the ground by late spring, early summer,” said Minoia.