Plans for the old Ocean Spray site in Bordentown City are now up in the air after the last owner sold the 60,000-square-foot bottling plant to a Brooklyn-based developer.
“Unbeknownst to the city, this happened without us being aware of it,” Mayor Jim Lynch said at the April 12 commissioner meeting.
The new owner has yet to contact the city with its intentions for the site, Lynch said, but residents can be assured that the property won’t turn into a warehouse based on current zoning.
“My big fear is that we don’t want another warehouse there,” said one resident at the meeting. “What kind of planning is going to go into that property? Is it going to end up being a petri dish for tractor trailers?”
“That’s one of the nice things about how we purchased this years ago when we bought the property,” Lynch said. “Somebody has to do something. It’s a redevelopment zone. It was approved for 50 percent residential and 50 percent commercial. The actual property itself, warehousing, no.”
Lynch also said the city is addressing the current state of the property, which has essentially turned into a truck parking lot.
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 in the fall of 2019, Lynch said, although the city and Modern Recycled Spaces had been talking for several years.
The developer originally proposed that the project, called Cranberry Park, would include 296 loft-style apartments, creative spaces and commercial tenants, including plans for a brew pub or restaurant. Some of the existing structures were to be demolished.
Now, those plans are up in the air.
At the time, ideal tenants included a brewery/restaurant, a yoga studio and co-working and office space. Lynch said in 2019 that he hoped to see farmer’s markets and outdoor events in the future. The developers were aiming to retain the original brick structure, as well as restoring the site’s old tower, which was a big draw for the city at the time.
“This is huge,” Lynch told the Current in 2019. “We’re really excited. This can help turn us toward the next 50 years, a nice element to help our downtown businesses.”
While the future of the site is uncertain, the city remains hopeful that something like the original vision will end up in Bordentown. The property is currently zoned for 50 percent commercial use and 50 percent residential use, so officials are confident that it won’t be home to another warehouse.
The last plan was crafted in part with input from residents community groups, and locals hope that will be the case this time around, too.
“We’re really excited about it,” Lynch said in October 2019. “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.”