A proposed plan for redeveloping a site on Route 202/206, with the inclusion of a supermarket and hotel, has been put on hold because of a dispute between the contractor and the state.
According to Lance Boxer, chairman of the Bedminster Land Use Board, plans were moving along until June when the township received a call from Carl Freedman, of Partners Development, which was partnering with ARC Properties on this proposed Bedminster Village Plan.
“We were told he was in a dispute with the state, and we didn’t know how it would end up being resolved,” Boxer said. “He asked us to suspend activities on his behalf for the development.”
“But we haven’t heard anything back yet,” he added.
The plan was for a 50,000-square-foot supermarket, a 120-room 4-story hotel, two restaurants, a drug store, a bank and other retail businesses on a 10-acre site on Route 202/206 in Bedminster, and across from Hills Drive.
In creating this new development, Freedman had a contract to acquire the property from the state Department of Transportation as part of a swap for land along Route 22 in Readington.
But Boxer said there is apparently some kind of dispute over the Readington land at this point.
“Freedman is in a dispute that has to do with the land he’s acquiring, and the state has officially terminated the contract with him, claiming he’s in breach on a number of levels,” Boxer said. “While we suspended activities [on the project], it looks like there’s some litigation.”
Boxer said the township spoke to the state, and the DOT acknowledged that the project has been put on hold, and is no longer in active discussions.
“As far as Bedminster goes, while we still think the site has reason to be redeveloped, we are going to suspend all of our activities on it until we get a better feel for what’s going on,” he said. “The redeveloper could come back after he resolves his problems with the state.”
“We don’t want to bring down a redevelopment mandate,” he added.
At this point, Boxer said, the state still owns the property in Bedminster, and it doesn’t look like that will change for a while.
In a letter from the DOT to Freedman, deputy commissioner Joseph Mrozek said that Partners Development has failed to comply with certain provisions of the agreement, including failing to put the Readington site under contract, failing to provide a certificate of title to the site and failure to deliver exchange plans.
In addition, the letter said, the company did not satisfy a requirement for a complete phase one environmental assessment required under the agreement. Mrozek said in the letter that the assessment provided only considered recent use on the Readington site, but failed to address the site’s use as a place to manufacture steel in 1953.
As far as the Bedminster property is concerned, Boxer said, the township did not entertain any redevelopment on it until Freedman came forward with the proposal.
“We didn’t really think about this as a redevelopment project until we were approached 18 months ago,” he said. “At that point, we decided to look more closely into it.”
Currently, Boxer said, the property is zoned as office research, and the township is looking to expand that to provide more opportunities on the site.
“We are looking at medical applications, limited retail, supermarket,” he said. “We still think it needs to be redeveloped, and it becomes one of practicality.”
“But if the state doesn’t move, we can’t redevelop and we can’t move forward,” he added.