By Laura D.C. Kolnoski
FORT MONMOUTH – It doesn’t have a name yet, but a new microbrewery and multiuse indoor/outdoor event space will soon be replacing Fort Monmouth’s former Dance Hall in the Oceanport section. New owner Fuller “Trip” Brooks, president of AP Partners Development LLC, said plans are being finalized for the new complex, which will retain some of the character of the 1941 building while recreating it for a new age of revelry.
A second floor will be added to the Dance Hall on Brewer Avenue, expanding it from its current 16,000 square feet to 20,000 square feet, with space for a 2,500- to 4,000-square-foot restaurant. Additional space is allotted for a coffee shop or café, and an on-site catering area. The microbrewery will produce IPAs and offer tastings and retail sales, as well as service events held there, but will not have a bar.
“It’s a whole complex of mixed uses designed to work together,” Brooks said. “I’ve seen facilities like this elsewhere and it’s quite unique. We can host weddings incorporating the brewery. It was a community center before and now it will be a venue for special events.” Brooks will retain the distinctive wood truss interior structure, two 6-foot fireplaces, and a mezzanine overlooking the largest open area.
Renovations will be extensive. Brooks said almost 8,000 square feet of the Dance Hall was severely damaged in Super Storm Sandy. Those portions are being rebuilt.
Outside on the site’s 1.5 acres – with parking for 100 vehicles – a seasonal stage will be created facing the restaurant, brewery, and event space so it can be part of the action or used independently. Equipped with lighting and sound, the stage will also be available for community use. Brooks said designs for the complex are being refined prior to presenting them to the Oceanport Planning Board.
A microbrewery was not originally envisioned in redevelopment plans for the site adopted by the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA), but the proposal was considered as an “outside the box” viable redevelopment alternative. The plan was deemed compliant by a FMERA evaluation committee and the parcel was sold “as is” for $120,000 last year.
As required through FMERA agreement, the purchaser will be obligated to create 48 permanent, full-time jobs at the property within 18 months of occupancy, or pay a penalty. It’s too early in the process to predict a completion date, Brooks said.
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