A proposal by a redeveloper to build 192 condominium units, 75 rental units and about 19,000 feet of commercial space at the former Foodtown site on Route 70 was met with immediate controversy after it was announced last week.
But nothing is set in stone, officials say, and the issue of how the site should be redeveloped is still up for examination.
"It's not a dead issue," said Council President Bob Moore.
Though M&M Realty Partners was selected as the redeveloper of the site, it is still owned by the township and the official redevelopment plan calls for a hotel and banquet facility to be constructed there. In order to build condominiums or otherwise change the plan for the site, the council would have to adopt a revised plan. That has not happened yet.
"This has been going on for over 12 years now, so I want something to go in there that everybody in town can take advantage of," said Moore, who acknowledged opposition to the condominium plan which played out at the council meeting as well as on Brick Patch.
"Everybody forgot about the other 200 condos going up not even a mile away," said Moore, referencing Nobility Crest, a development which will be built in the area behind the Brick Township post office on Chambers Bridge Road.
Those condominiums were originally approved as age-restricted, but that project's developer sued the township under a state law passed after the 2008 mortgage crisis which allowed for unbuilt, but approved, age-restricted developments to be converted into non-age-restricted developments. The township eventually settled with the developer to drop the age restriction in return for fewer units being placed at the site.
The idea of sticking with some version of the original plan for the Foodtown site – a hotel and banquet hall – is not off the table.
"If a hotel is not financially feasible, we need to sit down with the redeveloper and renegotiate the terms of the contract so a hotel does become financially feasible," said Mayor Stephen C. Acropolis, who said his administration will review any proposed changes to the redevelopment plan.
Business Administrator Scott Pezarras has said that studies which declared the hotel project as being infeasible were based on a full-service hotel. Some have wondered whether a smaller hotel and banquet hall could be a workable option.
Ultimately, while the administration can weigh in, the decision on the plan will remain in the hands of the township council.
Moore said blueprints for a hotel, at some point, had been drawn up, and they should be reviewed.
"I personally want to see the drawings in my hands. I'm a contractor, so I know how blueprints will play out," he said. "If the big shots say, 'listen, it's not going to work, there's no way and I guarantee there's no way,' then I can see that. But some people say it might work out well."
Acropolis pledged his cooperation in working with the township council to reach a workable solution.
"I'll work with the redevelopment entity [the council] to make sure they encompass the things we originally wanted in this plan," said Acropolis.
What's for sure is the fact that the debate over the future of the site will continue for now.
"Nothing's going to happen overnight," said Moore.