Mixed-Use Development Proposed For Franklin Blvd. Site By Rev. DeForest Soaries

The Zoning Board of Adjustment is scheduled to hear in September an application for a four-story mixed used development on Franklin Boulevard.

The old Somerset County Social Services building on Franklin Boulevard would give way to a new, four-story mixed use development under a plan proffered by the Rev. DeForest “Buster” Soaries.

Soaries’ Corporate Community Connections, Inc. owns the property, plans for which include razing the current building and building a new structure with retail, office and residential units. Soaries is senior pastor at the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens on Route 27.

Soaries spoke about plans for the building at the 2015 Central Jersey Community Development Corporation’s annual corporate recognition breakfast. At the time, Soaries’ plans also included buying and razing the adjacent US Postal building, but that is not part of the current plan.

The first floor of the roughly 48,000 square foot building would be retail, with office space on the second floor, according to the plans.

Plans include 22 one- and two-bedroom housing units.

The third and fourth floors would contain 22 one- and two-bedroom apartments – 11 on each floor  – according to the plans. There would be 20 one-bedroom and two 2-bedroom units, according to the plans.

Plans show that the one-bedroom units would be between 733 and 770 square feet, while the two-bedroom units would be 1,170 square feet.

The building sits in the Hamilton Business District Zone, which allows four-story buildings. The developer will need a use variance because the HBD zone requires that the building front on Hamilton Street, which this does not.

The developer is also seeking a variance from the township’s parking requirement for the zone. A total of 109 parking spaces – 40 for the residential units and 69 for the commercial units – is required, but on 52 on-site parking spaces are proposed.

In 2015, Soaries spoke about the center housing a financial literacy center, and also providing housing to veterans. Soaries declined to comment on current plans for the property.

Soaries is scheduled to appear before the Zoning Board of Adjustment in September.


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