After years of inaction at the site of a former Foodtown supermarket, the real estate development firm that was supposed to build a hotel and banquet center there has filed a lawsuit against Brick Township in response to the township terminating a redevelopment agreement earlier this year after deadlines for development were not met.
Mayor John Ducey said Monday that the developer, M&M Realty Partners, has filed a lawsuit against the township. In September, Ducey moved to terminate the agreement Brick had with M&M that would allow the company to buy the township-owned site and build a hotel there. M&M, under the agreement, would have paid Brick $7.5 million for the site when it received final building permits.
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. Though the wheels were set in motion in September, the actual termination date of the agreement was Monday.
“There were six years of inaction,” said Ducey. “Even the Hoover Dam was built in less time.”
The lawsuit filed by M&M seeks to compel the township to allow the company to continue on as redeveloper.
“He’s going to delay us even more, because he’s now filed a lawsuit saying that he wants to be the developer of the property,” Ducey said. “Of course, our response to that lawsuit is, ‘well, where have you been for the last six years?’”
M&M is a partnership of Edgewood Properties and JMP Holdings, led by Jack Morris, who has developed other sites in Brick, and Joe Marino.
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.
Ducey said the lawsuit will undoubtedly hold up any redevelopment of the site even longer since nothing can be built there until the matter is settled.
“It’s a shame,” Ducey said, adding that his administration is favoring using at least some of the site for a type of “community purpose.”
“We’re stuck with some of the decisions from the past, but we will get something there as soon as possible,” he said.