FMERA resurrects Fort Monmouth.
Fort Monmouth has been the landmark around Monmouth and Ocean County for more than 90 years. Totaling over 1,000 acres and spanning the municipalities of Eatontown, Oceanport and Tinton Falls. Fort Monmouth also was the base for our United States war heroes and many jobs. But in 2010 Fort Monmouth closed it's gates for good.
So where's Fort Monmouth today? When you drive along Route 35 what do you see? vacant buildings, empty land space and empty pathways? As I entered Fort Monmouth there was dead silence. But that silence will soon turn into life.
FMERA (Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority) made a big milestone to change that dead air into life. FMERA recently purchased the remaining 560 acres on Fort Monmouth. They now own over a thousand acres. What will take the place those thousands of acres? Well FMERA executive director Bruce Steadman sees the big picture.
“Those 5,00 direct jobs that went to Maryland and the several thousand indirect jobs that either went to Maryland or someplace else because the Army left that’s our mission critical focus.”
FMERA can’t create jobs but they have to create an atmosphere that attracts people that can create jobs. Executives involved the three boroughs (Oceanport, Eatontown, and Tinton Falls) believe that the main focus is job creation.
“Right behind that is our ability to get the property back in the hands of private ownership so their going to pay taxes on them. You know 1,100 acres to get reintroduced into three boroughs puts a substantial load on a limited tax base.”
Steadman says he wants to get the properties back in a tax revenue standpoint. So what are the best ways to achieve job creation and have sufficient reinvestment into the tax base? Well Steadman says it’s a combination of light industrial, commercial and residential.
“If you look at it holistically, probably the best tax payers will be high tech profitable businesses that have anywhere from a several dozen to a few hundred or a few thousand employees who make good wages.”
Next will be the several hundred residential properties that will be available on Fort Monmouth. If all goes well, new property owners may purchase homes on Fort Monmouth. That is if there're good jobs and enmities. Steadman said he would also like a strong retail mix.
“The retail makes an important enmity that attracts the residential people. And if you’re a job creator, entrepreneur, you own your own business or you’re an executive at a high-tech businesses; you want to make sure you got a good responsible educated work force that’s willing to work and live nearby.”
FMERA is planning on building over 1,600 housing units and over 500,000 square feet of retail space. Majority of that retail space will be high-end retail, don’t expect your typical big box retail says Steadman. He’s also hopeful for over 5,000 thousand high-tech jobs. FMERA executives would like to develop a live, work, play idea.
How is FMERA marketing this “Live, Work, Play” dream? Well luckily enough The Jersey Shore has a strong reputation around the world. Steadman says people know about us before we know about them. Real estate is all about location right? Well for new Fort Monmouth residents, they will be less than an hour from Manhattan and ten minutes from the beach. This location is on everyone’s radar screen.
“We get people calling us every week from some place that we never marketed, never spoken to anyone and they heard about us and they want to come and see us.”
FMERAs responsibility to respond to those inwardly marketing calls is critically important says Steadman. They’ve done many tours with investors who want to see the property as well. Steadman believes in his team to make Fort Monmouth a better place.
FMERA also has a national real estate broker, which is Cushman and Wakefield. Cushman and Wakefield has been FMERA’s broker since day one.
“They developed a lot of materials, they highlight various portions of the Fort during different time of the month and the year. They’re outreaching to investors and entrepreneurs around the country to try and bring them here.”
Currently they’re 18 different projects in progress and two thirds of Fort Monmouth are in play according to Steadman. FMERA expects approximately six closings in the next six months. This processes doesn’t happen over night, it takes plenty of paperwork and time.
“You’re at two and half to three years before you can even have closing and then it’s usually 60-90 days after that before you can break ground. So it’s really a minimum three-year process from the day we put the RFP out to the day ground is going to be broken.
Steadman says FMERA has some great projects in the works and people should expect three closings in the next three months. By June 2017 its possible FMERA will have a total of six closings.
According to FMERA their objectives include completion of the Redevelopment Plan in the next 10 years, creation of up to 10,000 jobs and overall build out valued at over $1.5 billion.