After years of planning and pondering by local officials, construction is underway on a planned residential and retail complex a block away from Metuchen's busy train station.
Fairfield-based Woodmont Properties officially broke ground last week on a project that will include 273 rental units and 11,500 square feet of retail and restaurants, according to a news release. The site, located at Pearl and New streets, also includes plans for a half-acre open space piazza and a six-level, 750-space parking deck that will serve residents, commuters and shoppers.
The so-called Woodmont Metro at Metuchen Station has faced opposition in recent years from some residents of the 2.8-square-mile borough, who expressed concerns about how it would change the town’s central business district. But the supporters say the project will transform a surface parking lot that sits in a prime location within walking distance of NJ Transit’s busy Northeast Corridor rail line.
“The perfect addition to our downtown, Woodmont Metro will fit in seamlessly with the character of Metuchen,” Mayor Thomas Vahalla said in a prepared statement. “From the new shops and restaurants to the stunning high-end apartments, this is truly an exciting time for Metuchen, and a significant milestone in the evolution of our town.”
Prior to construction, Woodmont relocated and developed a new 4,205-square-foot building for the Metuchen American Legion, equipped with a kitchen and meeting hall space, the news release said. The structure was built on property owned by the Parking Authority at Wernik Place and Calvin Place, adjacent to the existing Halsey Street parking lot.
The first phase of construction will consist of the parking deck, which will be built and managed by Nexus Properties, the news release said.
Vahalla last week joined Woodmont executives — including CEO Eric Witmondt, President Lewis Zlotnick, Executive Vice President and General Counsel Stephen Santola and Chief Investment Officer David Trager — for a groundbreaking ceremony at the development site. Longtime Metuchen Parking Authority Chairman Len Roseman and Dante Germano, chief operating officer of Nexus Properties, also were in attendance.
“Metuchen is a one-of-a-kind destination and we’re thrilled to break ground on a project that will bring new vibrancy to the area,” Santola said. “With its location just a few steps from the Metuchen NJ Transit train station and in the heart of Metuchen’s growing downtown, the property offers convenience and walkability — two key factors that continue to attract long-term residents.”