Brick Township’s planning board on Wednesday night gave its unanimous approval to the preliminary site plan for the multi-acre complex that will occupy the long-desolate former Foodtown property off Route 70.
The board simultaneously approved the two developments that will combine to turn the property that once housed the supermarket plus a Bradlee’s department store into a sports dome complex in the rear and a retail and quick-serve restaurant plaza in the front. HFZ Superdome will own the rear portion and M&M Realty Partners, led by developer Jack Morris, will own the front portion.
“Bricktown, as we all know, has a very long and storied sports history,” said attorney John Jackson, introducing the proposal by HFZ Superdome, the holding company behind developer Peter Tasca’s 75,000 square foot facility.
The “dome” itself will be located behind a prefabricated building with a modern facade.
“It’s going to result in an aesthetically nice feature as opposed to the dome behind the school on Hooper [Avenue],” said Jackson, referring to the Bennett sports bubble in Toms River.
Tasca, who lives in Point Pleasant, said the Superdome will consist of a multitude of activity venues, including a soccer/lacrosse field, four basketball courts, a wave pool for indoor surfing and an approximately 7,000 square physical therapy facility. The complex will also house a dance studio, hot yoga studio, a walking path and food court. There will also be rooms large enough to accommodate children’s birthday parties and corporate outings, complete with video games, VR sports games and other fun features.
Tasca, a retired physical education teacher, already runs one Superdome complex in Waldwick, Bergen County, and has managed a number of other facilities. He said the Superdome will host sports activities for both youth and adults, feature former professional athletes as coaches and provide a state-of-the-art training center where students can train year-round. The complex will even include a video production suite in case a practice or game needs to be recorded so college athletic scouts can see an athlete in action.
“The goal in any one sport is to train, work with your coaches, practice your skills and show your skills during a game,’ said Tasca, explaining that youth-oriented activities will likely be held after school and adult soccer, lacrosse and softball leagues will be hosted at night and on the weekends.
The dome portion of the structure will be supported by air, and the site will be fully climate-controlled, powered by four 20-ton air compressor units.
Tasca said the Northe Jersey Superdome complex charges $195 for eight-week sessions that include field space and a coach. There are also options for more intense training as well as clinics. Final pricing for the Brick Superdome site has yet to be finalized.
“It’s going to be a very positive safe-haven for the kids,” Tasca said.
The front portion of the complex will be split between a food or retail store, a second retail store and a quick-serve restaurant. There were no details on which stores or restaurants could be moving in, and the layout of the interior of the complex is pending final board approval.
As with most projects in Brick, officials questioned entry and egress, as well as traffic and parking concerns. A traffic engineer hired by the township testified that the U-turn lane built by Foodtown years ago will mitigate traffic increases. The applicants are planning 368 parking stalls, though that number could increase to 387 if the sizes of the spaces are modified by about one foot.
The retail store will encompass 23,000 square feet, the second retail store will measure about 7,000 square feet and the quick-serve restaurant will be 47,000 square feet.
Jackson said the two portions of the property will be linked and there will be a straight corridor of view that will allow customers to see the entire area at once.
“It will look and act like one complex on the ground,” said Jackson. “There will be agreements between the two developers for cross-access, plowing, landscaping.”
Tasca said agreements between the two parties have already been hammered out with regard to maintenance and upkeep.
“I’m hoping we can fill up the lot,” he said. “I think it’s a great combination that we worked out. We made sure we’d be good partners – I love the deal and they love the deal.”
Now that the project has received its preliminary approval, the two developers can begin hiring additional professionals and readying the site for construction. Eventually, they will have to come back for final approval at which point construction can begin in earnest. Upon final site plan approval, both parties will pay $2.5 million to Brick Township in order to close on the properties.
Wednesday night’s approval is one of the final steps before a 15-year-long saga involving the plot of land can be put to rest. The township purchased the site in 2003 under the administration for former mayor Joseph C. Scarpelli, ostensibly to prevent a Home Depot from being built there and setting aside land for a community center. M&M originally entered into a redevelopment agreement and pledged to buy the property for $7.5 million and build a hotel, but later said a hotel was not viable and sought to build condominiums on the site. The township council rejected the proposal, and after years of inaction, Mayor John Ducey terminated the agreement with M&M, setting off litigation. The split ownership arose out of a settlement.
“We’re very excited to bring this to Bricktown,” said Jackson. “We feel that it’s going to be a big hit.”