After terminating an agreement with a developer after six years of inaction at the site of the former Foodtown supermarket on Route 70, Brick officials began courting potential occupants for the space, though so far none have committed to purchase the plot.
Mayor John Ducey said Tuesday that his administration has reached out to a number of high-end supermarket chains, including Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Wegman’s regarding the site, as well as Cabella’s – a retailer of outdoor equipment – and the restaurant and entertainment chain Dave and Buster’s.
All cited potential issues with the site, Ducey said, including two that would not open a new location due to New Jersey’s laws on liquor licenses. According to Ducey, Wegman’s declined because executives felt the site was too small and Whole Foods declined because it is currently building a store just four miles away in neighboring Wall Township. Trader Joe’s and Dave and Buster’s did not have an interest in expanding to Brick because New Jersey’s liquor laws restrict the number of licenses that can be held by a corporation under its own name, the mayor said.
Finally, Cabella’s declined because the company felt there was not enough interest in hunting in the Brick area.
“We have ideas for other stores to come in,” said Ducey, who took suggestions from a Normandy Beach resident who works in the supermarket industry at Tuesday night’s council meeting.
Another idea being considered by township officials is allowing the site to be developed by a company that would operate an indoor sports complex, which would include an indoor playing field and other amenities, Ducey said.
The lawsuit filed against the township by M&M Realty Partners, the former developer, is still pending, Ducey said, though the township has the right to sell the property despite the legal wranglings.
In the lawsuit, M&M claims that their right to develop the lot should still stand. The township, in terminating the redeveloper’s agreement with M&M, has held that the company failed to pay a required $100,000 deposit on the property and missed a number of deadlines that were set by a previous township council for the property to be redeveloped. Had M&M developed the site, they would have had to pay Brick Township $7.5 million under the terms of the agreement.