Retail, Commercial Proposals Pitched for Former Fort Monmouth Commissary

August 30, 2018
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Officials are currently evaluating multiple bids received in July for the former Fort Monmouth Commissary/PX, Post Office, and Warehouse District.

By Laura D.C. Kolnoski |

FORT MONMOUTH – When Fort Monmouth closed in 2011, area veterans and active military personnel bemoaned the loss of the base’s Commissary and Post Exchange (PX), which were busy hubs of shopping and gathering. While many hoped similar operations would soon occupy the sites, early efforts by the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA) to secure new grocery and shopping entities were not successful, so FMERA officials simply proposed potential future uses as “retail or other commercial use” when they issued a request for bids in May.

A FMERA evaluation committee is now in the process of reviewing and scoring proposals for three separate, adjacent parcels in Oceanport received by the deadline of July 16. In addition to the Commissary and PX, the Post Office and Warehouse District were included in the bid package. According to Dave Nuse, FMERA deputy executive director and director of real estate development, negotiations with the highest-ranked bidder for each of the properties will likely commence in early fall.

“We received multiple proposals,” Nuse said. “Bidders were able to bid on multiple properties. Some bid on one, some on all three. They were all commercial proposals for a range of uses, some recreational and entertainment-related, others business/office and flex space. No food markets bid on the Commissary, primarily because there is no frontage on a main road.” The parcels border Rasor and Anson avenues and Murphy Drive.

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The Commissary, built in 1998, is a 53,700-square-foot former Army supermarket. The PX complex, a series of four circa-1970 wood-frame buildings totaling 45,626 square feet, along with a 5,563-square-foot building constructed in 1941 used by the Army Service Corps, occupies a 7-acre parcel. The Warehouse District includes five general purpose administrative buildings constructed in 1943 and two circa-1954 warehouse buildings totaling 77,589 square feet. The Post Office area includes the 7,641-square-foot former fort Post Office constructed in 1971, the Tickets and Tours building, a 2,600-square-foot structure constructed in 1970, a 14,964-square-foot administration and classroom building dating to 1942 and the 9,267-square-foot recreation equipment checkout facility built in 1941.

Parties bidding on the Commissary/PX, Post Office, and/or Warehouse District had the option of also bidding on a parking parcel, a 5-acre lot that will provide off-street parking for the buildings adjoining it.

Next Up: Transit-Oriented Development

Following the recent successful “showcase” at the fort’s former McAfee technology complex that drew interest from more than 25 invited guests from real estate, investment and development, a similar event is being planned for what is known as the fort’s “400 Area” in Oceanport along the rail line, scheduled for this fall. An exact date has not yet been determined.

In accordance with FMERA’s master redevelopment plan, the 80-acre area near the Marina at Oceanport restaurant and marina is slated for a mixed-use “transit-oriented” development. According to FMERA Executive Director Bruce Steadman, the envisioned redevelopment would include 225 to 250 housing units and small retail operations.

In the 1920s, an Army airfield was located there. Its history also includes the headquarters of the legendary Signal Corps and Carrier Pigeon Corps. Workshops, storage, offices and old barracks also occupied the site through the decades.

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Similar to the increasingly prevalent “transit villages” arising along rail and transportation hubs in New Jersey and across the U.S., a transit-oriented development, while also aimed at making commuting quicker and easier, is less restrictive than a transit village. For instance, in a transit village, residents must be able to walk to a train, ferry or other station within a specified distance. In a transit-oriented development, transport destinations are still easily accessible, but with more distance allowed between a commuter’s home and the transport location.

The NJ Transit Little Silver train station is nearby, as is the recently expanded and upgraded Exit 105 of the Garden State Parkway, improved in part to facilitate access to the redeveloping fort.

This article was first published in the August 23-30, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.

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