State, county and local dignitaries celebrated a groundbreaking ceremony for the Ewing Town Center at the old General Motors site on Parkway Avenue on Nov. 2. Also on hand were officials from Atlantic Realty, the developer of the project.
“It’s a great pleasure standing here today knowing this is going to come to fruition,” said Mayor Bert Steinmann. “Foundations are probably going to start being put in this spring.”
“This site had a lot of challenges that had to be worked through, and we went through a great process trying to get a developer to come and undertake such a big task as this is,” Steinmann said. “Fortunately we wound up with a great company in Atlantic Realty.”
Also at the event was Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman, a Ewing native. “I’ve always wanted to live in a town that had a town center, and I never wanted to leave the town that I was raised in. So now I get both.”
“This is going to be a thriving center and we’re going to be able to eat, play, picnic, work – whatever it is we do to maintain a quality of life,” she added.
County Executive Brian Hughes said that not only is the project going to be good for Ewing, it also matches perfectly with improvements that are happening at the nearby Trenton-Mercer Airport, also located in Ewing.
He said the county is going to build “a beautiful terminal to replace the 60-year-old terminal that we have now. That’s moving at the same pace, in fact, as this town center, and we will have them done practically at the same time.
“People will be able to move in here and then move around the country, and hopefully, around the world, when this terminal is done,” he added.
Also attending the ceremony were Ewing Council vice president Kevin Baxter, councilwoman Jennifer Keyes-Maloney, Freeholder Pasquale “Pat” Colavita, Freeholder Ann Cannon and Assemblyman Anthony Verrelli.
Representatives from the Ewing-Lawrence Sewage Authority and the Ewing Township Redevelopment Agency.
Site clearing work started last month on the property following the sale by RACER Trust to Parkway Town Center Urban Renewal LLC, an entity created by Atlantic Realty.
The project—a mixed-use development, which was originally called the Parkway Town Center—had experienced numerous delays while RACER completed environmental cleanup of the property.
Approved by the township planning board in 2016, the project calls for the construction of 1,184 residential rental units, 94,750 square feet of retail and 14,375 square feet of offices. At least 10 percent of the housing would be set aside for state-mandated low- and moderate-income housing.
The approval comes some two decades after General Motors shut down operations on the 80-acre tract, and almost two years after it was originally proposed by Lennar Corp.
In early 2014, the Ewing Township Redevelopment Agency approved a concept plan by Lennar to build the town center, but that plan never reached the planning board. Lennar opted to bow out of the deal due to changing market conditions and escalating environmental cleanup costs. The original plan was for Lennar to build the for-sale townhouse units and partner with Atlantic Realty to construct the multifamily properties.
Atlantic, which primarily builds and manages rental projects, expressed interest in developing the town center after Lennar’s exit, but wanted to develop the residential portion of the site with all rentals.
The township worked with Atlantic for about a year to come up with a plan for an all-rental development.
The project scheduled to be built in five phases beginning with 164 residential units and community green space.