Home Government Foodtown Redevelopment Case Will Go to Trial Next Month

Foodtown Redevelopment Case Will Go to Trial Next Month

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The former Foodtown site off Route 70 in Brick. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
The former Foodtown site off Route 70 in Brick. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

An ongoing lawsuit between a real estate developer and Brick Township will go to trial next month, according to a docket schedule released by the Ocean County court.

Discovery ended last month, and a trial date has been set for Oct. 3 in the case, which centers around Mayor John Ducey’s decision to terminate a redevelopment agreement between the township and M&M Realty Partners, which is owned by developer Jack Morris.

Brick terminated a redevelopment agreement with Morris’ company after, officials said, Morris failed to meet deadlines after years of waiting for a project to be formally proposed. When the company did propose a project, it was a residential condominium and mixed retail plan, which was rejected by the township council. Ever since, the future of the plot of land, which is still township-owned, has been the subject of a lawsuit filed by Morris and a countersuit filed by the township.

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Ducey’s action to terminate the agreement cited M&M’s failure to pay a required $100,000 deposit on the property, plus a number of missed deadlines that were set by a previous township council for the property to be redeveloped.

“There were six years of inaction,” said Ducey, at the time. “Even the Hoover Dam was built in less time.”

M&M never built anything at the site, nor did it ever formally submit a plan for redevelopment to the township planning board. In 2013, M&M asked the township council to change the redevelopment agreement to allow the construction of a 192 unit condominium complex, approximately 19,000 square feet of commercial space and 72 rental units over top the commercial space at the site. The council never voted to change the agreement, which currently only permits the construction of a full service hotel at the site.

M&M said a hotel was not viable there, and has sued Brick in order to retain its status as redeveloper.

No money has ever changed hands, as M&M was only responsible for paying the $7.5 million purchase price after a development plan had been approved by the township planning board. M&M did, however, fund the demolition of the Foodtown building which fell into disrepair after the store closed.

The trial is set to be held Oct. 3 at 9 a.m. in the court room of Superior Court Judge Craig Wellerson.


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  • Frank Rizzo

    Forget about re developing commercial sites any more…Amazon has all but killed brick and mortar stores….think about tearing more down like pathmark plaza before we have another eyesore like Beachwood did on Route 9….a hotel could have been built on traders cove site….you blew it

  • David Kuntschik

    unsure of why the proposed the construction of a 192 unit condominium complex, approximately 19,000 square feet of commercial space and 72 rental units over top the commercial space. This is 264 living places and I am unfamiliar with the required affordable housing percentages in the township but 264 housing units mixed with 19,000 sq ft commercial could have brought in tax revenues. It appears old redevelopment plan required only a hotel and M&M did not see the viability of hotel at the site and proposed the residential/commercial mix to the township that could have been a beneficial development that the township refused to consider and or properly evaluate.

    • Craig Wall

      The developers tried a bait and switch on the township: they entered into an agreement to build the hotel, then thought halfway through that they could change the terms to a site plan that doesn’t fit zoning laws.

      When bricks mayor said they weren’t changing the zoning for that site, the developer tried to strong arm the township by saying “fine, nothing will be built there at all then”. Except the developer missed a required payment to the town, which the town felt gave them leverage to terminate the agreement.

      Brick township doesn’t want yet more residential units on that site, neither do the residents, it’s not zoned for it, and they refused to be bullied by the developers.

      • David Kuntschik

        Well, I did not see anything about a bait and switch but that might be a viable argument. But a fiscally wise developer should always evaluate the the proposed plan to determine if it fits their needs. If a hotel doesn’t fit, then another proposal can be submitted. M&M is not required to meet payment deadlines if they are not moving forward with project. I know there is a housing shortage in New Jersey and even housing generates revenue although not as much as a hotel it is still more than a vacant piece of land that Brick is still paying for. I suggest and evaluation of adapting a zoning change as a retail / residential complex will generate more income to compensate for the cost of removing the dilapidated Foodtown.

      • Craig Wall

        It looks like the area was zoned for mixed Commercial/Residential use until the council changed the Redevelopment Plan in 2015 to all Commercial:

        http://micromediapubs.com/council-restricts-residential-building-former-foodtown-site/

        However, the contract the developer signed in 2010 was specifically to build a hotel, and the agreement was adopted as an ordinance. The developer didn’t perform a market study until well after they signed the contract, but the township said basically “not our problem, you signed a contract to build a hotel, and we have info that says a hotel is viable there”.

        There were a lot of people who objected to having all that housing built too. But on the other hand, Acropolis’ administration bought the site to begin with to block Home Depot from building there, so who knows what will eventually go in there.

      • Smokin

        They didn’t want units built on that site..but there considering route 88 Burnsville and Jack Martin Blvd…

  • Andy Pat

    I agree that the developer tried a bait and switch. An agreement was reached and the developer reneged. I am sure this developer has a strong legal team, but the town and the taxpayers will prevail in court. However, a win for either side does little to advance a sensible and viable redevelopment of this site.