On May 27, Lawrence Township mayor Cathleen Lewis began her State of the Township address by recalling her address in 2014.
“Last year I was able to tell you that we could see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Lewis said, “that good news had started coming in, that we saw growth and investment in our future. Today, I’m here to tell you the future’s here.”
During this year’s address, hosted by the MidJersey Chamber of Commerce at Greenacres Country Club, Lewis reflected that last year, she’d asked attendees to imagine a Lawrence Township that was bustling with growth and redevelopment. Now, she continued, there was no need to imagine.
“Someone is always finding someplace new to invest and build in Lawrence,” Lewis said. “Lawrence is a place of growth. It is a destination for investment.”
Lewis went on to take this year’s audience on a “tour” of Lawrence, describing the ongoing development and redevelopment in town.
The current amount of approved new square feet of development totals more than one million, Lewis said, noting that that figure does not include renovations.
Beginning in South Lawrence, some of the major development projects include a new Boys and Girls Club facility, an indoor sports facility, Brunswick Pike redevelopment, and the construction of Auto Lenders.
The Boys and Girls Club is scheduled to open in September as a community recreation center with classrooms, gymnasiums and more.
Approvals were granted to Spruce Street Partners for an indoor sports facility, which will be covered by an inflatable dome.
A draft plan had been issued for final review for the Brunswick Pike redevelopment, Lewis said, which would feature parking improvements and a traffic circle at Whitehead Road. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2016.
Mrs. G’s is nearly finished with construction at its new location next to Worldwide Flooring, Lewis said. Meanwhile, construction at the former Mrs. G’s site continues. A full service Wawa convenience store and gas station was on track to be completed in June, and construction was also under way on a McDonald’s and TD Bank. The completed site, known as 2012 Lawrenceville Associates, will also feature two additional retail buildings.
Construction is also nearly complete for Lawrence Toyota, which will add approximately 24,000 square feet of additional space to the dealership.
Earlier this year, AAA opened its doors across from the former Mrs. G’s property, and the Islamic Circle of Mercer County is set to open its new house of worship this summer.
Meanwhile, Costco is currently doing demolition on the site where it will then build its warehouse, which will also include a pharmacy and freestanding gas station.
Other major projects in town include Morris Hall Meadows on Route 206, the construction of Bristol-Myers Squibb on Princeton Pike, and several new storefront additions to Mercer Mall.
Morris Hall Meadows, Lewis explained, is a new nursing home community. The community features 12 houses, with 10 patients each, who will have single rooms in a residential setting for more beneficial long term care.
Bristol-Myers Squibb, which is building a 555,525 square foot location, is currently in phase one of construction, which includes roadway improvements on Princeton Pike, Lewisville Road and traffic signalization systems.
New additions—which are now complete—at Mercer Mall include Nordstrom Rack, REI and Lemonpop.
In addition to local business growth, Lewis said, Lawrence Township also saw a decline in tax rates in 2014 and no change in 2015. Lewis also said the police department returned to previously staffed levels and saw a 15 percent drop in crime in 2014.
Lewis wrapped up the speech by reaffirming the township’s focus on drawing in business that would benefit the community.
“We are committed to making sure that businesses make investments that help our residents,” Lewis said, “that our residents can easily access businesses and that we can all work together to form a commune.”