First Hamilton Street Redevelopment Project Wins Approval

3-3-16 Meeting - 2

Engineer William Parkhill describes a proposed mixed-use project on Hamilton Street to the Zoning Board of Adjustment March 3.

The first of what township planners and business owners hope will be a bevy of projects to reinvigorate the Hamilton Street business district was approved March 3 by the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

Developer Perry Pavicic’s plan for a “U”-shaped 4-story mixed-use building on Hamilton Street, between Ambrose and Home streets, was unanimously approved by the board after about a two-hour hearing, finishing a process that began last November.

Pavicic’s plan is to provide more than 9,200 feet of retail space on the project’s first floor and 84 1- and 2-bedroom apartments above. The apartments would be divided into 50 2-bedroom units and 34 1-bedroom units, some of which will be provided furnished.

The apartments will be marketed to Rutgers University students and Millennials – or “walking wallets” – said Pavicic’s planner, John McDonough. He said the retail shops will be geared toward the building’s residents rather than trying to attract a regional customer base.

“Those types of things that will support the neighborhood,” Mcdonough said.

Pavicic’s company, Recon Services, has constructed a similar project and has approval for another in New Brunswick, the first of which was fully rented in two weeks and the second of which has 100 potential renters interested, Pavicic told the board.

Pavicic said that he has interest in the retail section of the Hamilton Street building from 7-11, a deli and “several others.”

The building will include both underground and surface-level parking garages – with a total of 118 parking spaces – and a courtyard.

William Parkhill, Pavicic’s engineer, said the project will be attractive to Rutgers students because it’s a short walk to a shuttle stop for the Rutgers shuttle, and just about a mile from the Rutgers Student Center on College Avenue in New Brunswick.

“We anticipate a fair number of residents using bicycles,” he said. “The College Ave. student center is less than a 10-minute bike ride.”

The project needed a use variance because the surface parking lot juts into the R-7 zone, in which mixed-use developments are not allowed, and several bulk variances. All the variance requests were approved.

Pavicic’s project, as well as others that are before the Planning Board, was made possible by changes made last year to the township’s HBD – Hamilton Business District – Zone. The changes set design criteria and allowed for the creation of 4-story buildings in certain cases.

The project was well-received by the zoning board.

“It’s definitely an improvement over what’s there now,” board member Joel Reiss said. “If we could have more of these, it would be a better area.”

“These are the types of things that were envisioned at least as far back as 1997, 1998,” said board chairman Robert Thomas. “It’s too bad it took so long. This is a great project.”

Vince Dominach, the township’s senior zoning officer, said the Pavacic project “is really what good planning is all about.”

He said township planning staff met with Pavacic over a year-and-a-half to iron out the plan.

“Most developers don’t want to take that time,” he said.

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