Redevelopment Opportunities of Fort Monmouth Showcased by Naiop-Nj Sponsored Tour

Shuttered 1,126-acre Army Base: “This Property Boasts Remarkable Assets”
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Aug. 16, 2012 - PRLog -- The BRAC-mandated closure of the nearly 100-year-old Fort Monmouth in September 2011 left a 1,126-acre hole in Monmouth County’s – and New Jersey’s – economy. The Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA) has been tasked with overseeing the redevelopment of the former U.S. Army base, and the potential uses it presents were showcased in a program and bus tour sponsored by NAIOP New Jersey, and co-sponsored by Cushman & Wakefield, Inc., the project’s master broker.

“Our goal today is to provide insight into the vast opportunities that the redevelopment of Fort Monmouth provides,” said Michael McGuinness, CEO of NAIOP New Jersey, the commercial real estate development association, introducing the program.

“From its ideal location to the region’s highly skilled workforce, this property boasts remarkable assets that we want companies across the U.S. and around the world to know about,” said Bruce Steadman, executive director of FMERA. “People love this location – with its proximity to the beach, access to transportation, and the fact that it is a former U.S. Army base, it has a great calling card.”

Fort Monmouth’s 1,126 acres encompass two roughly equal sites with close proximity to each other. The headquarters and primary functions of the former communications, technology, intelligence and reconnaissance outpost occupied the main base fronting Route 35 in Eatontown and Oceanport, while the second site in Eatontown and Tinton Falls contains Gibbs Hall (the officers club), Suneagles Golf Course, and a variety of other base support and recreational facilities.

Steadman outlined FMERA’s four chief goals in the redevelopment: job creation, reinvestment of the proceeds of land sales, ensuring that the Army resolves any environmental issues, and “satisfying all of the stakeholders.”

As to job creation, the first step in that process is underway. Software data storage company CommVault has plans to acquire a 55-acre parcel in Tinton Falls on which it will build a 650,000-square-foot headquarters facility in three phases. The rapidly growing company is currently headquartered in Oceanport but had been considering out-of-state locations.

“This multi-million-dollar company has committed to remain and grow in Monmouth County, with plans to create 250 new jobs over the next few years and invest an estimated $87 million to construct phase one. At full build out, the new corporate headquarters could house up to 2,500 employees,” said Steadman. “Keeping CommVault within the state will have a significant impact on the local economy.”

In terms of reinvesting the proceeds, ownership of the 1,126 acres is currently transitioning from the U.S. Army to FMERA, with eventual sale to users being the goal. The Army will receive 40 percent of the proceeds of first phase sales, according to Steadman, and additional proceeds throughout the process will be applied to the estimated $100 million of upkeep and infrastructure upgrades.

“What we want to do is accomplish all of our redevelopment goals without creating a financial obligation for the State of New Jersey,” Steadman said.

As to environmental issues, “the Army has been very forthcoming,” he said. “Throughout the 1,126 acres, there are perhaps only four or five acres that really can’t be developed because of environmental issues. And the New Jersey DEP team has been terrific.”

And in terms of satisfying all the stakeholders, “we want to create an atmosphere in which employers will employ and investors will invest to maximize jobs created and the value of the property,” Steadman said. “The FMERA team is committed to the highest level of transparency and accountability, to keep all of our stakeholders informed and engaged in the redevelopment process.”

Besides the CommVault commitment, the overall plan focuses on a mix of uses – office, residential, retail and the like. Much of the fort’s five million square feet of building stock is obsolete and will likely be razed, including the 650,000-square-foot Meyers Center office building. Possible targets for the Tinton Falls site, which has access to the Garden State Parkway, include a medical complex or new construction of upscale office space. A mixed-use town center is also likely in the mix.

The main portion of the base in Eatontown could emerge as a “live-work” environment with a mix of office, residential and retail, according to Steadman, who foresees the creation of 5,000 to 10,000 jobs on-site. Rows of historically protected officers’ housing would provide the basis for a residential community once interior upgrades are made.

On the business side, base headquarters Mallette Hall provides 57,000 square feet of prime office space; the 60,000-square-foot McAfee Center, with its rare anechoic chamber and high security system, “has the infrastructure for high-tech companies; and the fort’s medical center could be utilized for anything from an acute care facility to providing medical services for the elderly and for veterans.

“Some of these buildings, with a little TLC, will be great magnets for re-use,” said Steadman. He notes that FMERA itself will utilize an existing building: “The former fort library in Oceanport is currently being renovated to become our new headquarters.”

While noting that the redevelopment process is complicated by the fact that it involves three municipalities, a county, and both state and federal agencies, “I don’t see developmental issues coming up,” Steadman said. “Very few stakeholders disagree on the agenda. Construction is coming up, and frankly, we want to put ourselves out of business as soon as possible.”

“The FMERA staff has done a magnificent job of managing this process,” said Gualberto “Gil” Medina, executive managing director-New Jersey of Cushman & Wakefield, Inc. “With vision and aspirations, this process has been put in place to address the needs of all stakeholders. We are all working hard to make sure the process runs smoothly.”

As part of Cushman & Wakefield’s role in marketing the former fort property, Cushman & Wakefield and FMERA are currently developing a web site “to provide information and answers, including building a database of investors,” Medina announced.

“We are targeting November to go out with RFPs,” he concluded. “The FMERA staff is technologically strong and experienced, and this process will be very user-friendly.”
Source:Caryl Communications, Inc.
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