Editor’s Note: in the print edition of this story published in the Bordentown Current, the number of parking spaces proposed for the complex was reported as 238. According to a spokesperson from Modern Recycled Spaces, the actual number is 653, including six spaces that would be dedicated for electric cars.
Plans to redevelop Bordentown City’s Ocean Spray plant site are in motion, nearly five years after the property was first sold.
The plant, which closed in August 2014, was purchased by Hamilton-based Modern Recycled Spaces later that year. Plans have really only started to move forward over the last six months, said mayor Jim Lynch, although the city and Modern Recycled Spaces have been talking for several years.
The developer proposes that the project, called Cranberry Park, will include 296 loft-style apartments, creative spaces and commercial tenants, including plans for a brewpub or restaurant. Some of the existing structures will be demolished.
Early discussions, Lynch said, focused on what form the development should take: commercial, residential or a mix of both. City commissioners and the developer ultimately agreed on a mixed-use facility.
“They have a good vision,” Lynch said. “They took inspiration from the old Ocean Spray plant, and they’re trying to replicate it, trying to marry that history right into the new building. That’s what they specialize in—restoring what you have and enhancing it.”
The proposed number of residential units has fluctuated over the last year, starting as low as 150 before settling at 296. They will consist of one-, two- and three-bedroom units, and 28 of those will be affordable units (six one-bedroom, 16 two-bedroom and six three-bedroom).
Ideal commercial tenants include a brewery/restaurant, a yoga studio and co-working and office space. Lynch hopes to see farmer’s markets and outdoor events in the future. They will be housed at the former site of the 60,000-square-foot bottling plant. The developers hope to retain the original brick structure, as well as restoring the site’s old tower, Lynch said.
‘It’s a good fit. We can handle the volume. It will be a shot in the arm for our downtown businesses. Without them, we don’t have what we need to be a viable town.’
After meeting with city groups like the environmental commission and economic development committee, developers presented the plan to the public at a planning board meeting on Oct. 7. Lynch said the meeting was “great”—the board and developer are currently tweaking plans based on what they heard from residents. A new version will be presented at the planning board’s November meeting.
“I want to get as much public input on this project as I possibly can so that everyone is aware of it and how it’s going to affect the city,” Lynch said. “This is huge. We’re really excited. This can help turn us toward the next 50 years, a nice element to help our downtown businesses.”
Comments from residents have already helped inspire changes to the plan, Lynch said, and the plan that appeared before the planning board and the public in October will be different than what is presented at this month’s meeting. One of the top concerns, for example, was how the redevelopment would handle open space on the property.
Originally proposed were two “cranberry bogs”—what Lynch said were essentially water features—in front of the property. They reexamined the ponds, focusing on problems they could cause—flooding, mosquitoes, cost of upkeep—and scrapped them in favor of reconfiguring the buildings to create more open space.
Overall, Lynch believes that the environmentally sensitive areas on the property will be treated with care.
Many other concerns focused on parking. The minimum requirement within the development is 141 spaces, and the plan currently calls for 238. The city hopes to avoid street parking because of traffic and speeding motorists on Park Street.
The next step, Lynch said, is to work with Burlington County to construct a “Gateway to Bordentown,” which he hopes will make it easier to reach downtown Bordentown City on foot from Park Street. The county, he said, is on board with solutions like closely monitoring speeding and building trails for bikers and walkers behind and in front of the Ocean Spray property.
“We’re really excited about it,” Lynch said. “It’s a good fit for a one-square-mile town. I think we can handle the volume. Our population was around 5,000, years ago. Now we’re at 4,000. It won’t be a burden. I think it will be a serious shot in the arm for our downtown businesses. Without those businesses, we don’t have what we need to be a viable town.”