Retail Center Approved For Old New Brunswick Road

Proposed Retail Center

An architect’s rendering of the proposed retail center on Old New Brunswick Road.

For the second time in seven years, an application to turn a vacant building on Old New Brunswick Road into a retail center has been approved by the Planning Board.

The board unanimously approved the application of Onyx, LLC to turn the 53,000-square-foot building at 785 Old New Brunswick Road into a strip center. The center would be located next to Crossroads at Somerset, construction on which was finished last year.

The developer will slightly expand the building, bringing it to a total of about 55,000 square feet.

No tenants have been lined up yet, but the project’s architect, Yogesh Mistry, said the architectural plans showed nine spaces.

“We don’t know who’s coming in yet,” he said.

While the building’s interior will be gutted, Mistry said the developer’s “main focus” is on sprucing up its exterior.

Several different colors of brick façade will be used, he said, and there will be a liberal use of glass in the redesign.

The Planning Board in 2008 approved a retail center for the 6-acre site, but the developer never built it and instead sold it to a charter school. The school eventually received approval from the Zoning Board of Adjustment, but that project was never built, either.

Mistry, who was also the architect for the 2008 retail project, said that developer wanted a more traditional look.

The current client, he said, wanted a more “modern, cleaner look.”

The developer needed three variances, one because the structure was closer than allowed to an underground gas pipeline, and two for the sizes of proposed signs.

The township’s principal planner, Mark Healey, told the board that the township changed its ordinance increasing the distance a structure must be placed from a pipeline after the Texas Eastern Transmission Corporation’s natural gas pipeline explosion in Edison in March, 1994.

The change increased the minimum space to 100 feet. The building is 25 feet from the pipeline, and Onyx’s plans will bring parts of the building 10 feet closer.

But, he said, the building and pipeline were already there at the time the ordinance was changed.

John DuPont, the developer’s engineer, said personnel from the pipeline company, Buckeye, will be on site to monitor construction near the pipeline.

Concerning the signs, Mistry told the board that he allowed for signs of varying sizes in case a tenant needed a larger sign than the township ordinance allowed.

“We didn’t want to go too crazy, but at the same time, we didn’t want to go too small,” he said.

Freestanding signs planned for the site, DuPont said, were larger than allowed by the township but were appropriate fro the building.

Some board members suggested that the developer put in a crosswalk on New Brunswick Road to accommodate Somerset Run residents who might want to go to the center, but it was determined that because of the configuration of the road, it would be too dangerous to encourage people to cross the street there.

Another suggestion, that the developer put in a striped crosswalk on Old New Brunswick Road, near a newly constructed nursing home, fared better.


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