Ocean Township, NJ – The Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders has provided final approval to guarantee $35 million in notes and bonds through the Monmouth County Improvement Authority (MCIA). The funding will be used to revitalize the former Fort Monmouth property which has been closed since 2011.
The authorization of the County guaranty took place at the Board of Chosen Freeholders meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 24 at the Ocean Township Municipal Building after a public hearing.
The County authorization will allow the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA) to purchase 560 acres of property, located in Eatontown and Oceanport, from the United States Army as part of its Phase II redevelopment plan.
“The Phase II project has an estimated market value of more than $90 million. The entire Fort Monmouth property encompasses 1,126 acres across the boroughs of Eatontown, Oceanport and Tinton Falls, with the total improved value estimated at $1 billion over the next ten years. The potential impact of this redevelopment on our residents is enormous,” said Freeholder Lillian G. Burry, the County freeholder representative on the FMERA board.
The closure of Fort Monmouth resulted in the loss of nearly 5,000 jobs and 15,000 ancillary jobs. FMERA actions have already started to create new jobs with the possibility of significantly more over time. CommVault’s new world headquarters, located on the Tinton Falls section of the former fort, currently employs 900 individuals with plans to employ 1,600 more. Trinity Hall, a private, all-girls college preparatory high school is scheduled to open on the Tinton Falls section, too. In addition, Monmouth County operates several facilities on the base.
FMERA’s goal is to develop 1,585 housing units; 300,000 square-feet of non-profit, civic and government and educational space; 500,000 square-feet for retail; and 2 million square-feet dedicated to offices, research and other commercial uses.
Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone said, “The closure of Fort Monmouth had a deep impact on employment in Monmouth County and New Jersey. The Fort Monmouth Revitalization Authority is doing the work necessary to deliver new jobs on the property. People are already being employed at new facilities and business. Others will be hired to either build new structures or rehabilitate existing buildings. In both cases, immediate and long-term employment opportunities will be available.”
“This is the right decision for Monmouth County. By guaranteeing these bonds we are helping to support the three boroughs and everyone in Monmouth County. The $90 million estimated market value of the project makes this a good investment in the future of our county. Monmouth County’s AAA bond rating should also provide a favorable lending rate for FMERA,” said Freeholder Deputy Director Serena DiMaso, liaison to the MCIA.
Freeholder Gary J. Rich, Sr. said, “I am pleased that we have taken this critical step to jump start the potential of this valuable Monmouth County real estate. We are confident that this positive action will assist in the successful redevelopment of this important economic engine.”
Freeholder John P. Curley was the lone dissenting vote for the bond authorization, arguing that he wanted the local municipalities, who will benefit the most from the project, to be involved in guarantying the bonds.
“The financial structure of the deal should include the participating municipalities ensuring equity of financial obligation, and the ultimate say in the decision-making process. The municipalities should have the ultimate say in the land use of their communities as designed in their respective master plan” said Curley.