CEDAR KNOLLS, N.J. – The site of a long-abandoned property in the Cedar Knolls section of Hanover Township today houses affordable housing and a new shopping center. Its master planner, brownfield redevelopment specialist Key Properties of Teaneck, N.J., now anticipates a portion will be home to a solar farm providing renewable energy to its retail tenants.
Key Properties purchased the property – located at the intersection of Ridgedale and East Hanover avenues – in 2004 and successfully applied for brownfield designation through the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Key Properties and the former occupant, Berlex Laboratories (subsequently acquired by Bayer Pharmaceuticals), then performed in-depth site remediation to ready the campus for redevelopment.
Working closely with Hanover officials, Key Properties subdivided the property, and in 2010 the municipality rezoned approximately 16 acres from office/industrial to multifamily affordable housing and 27 acres to retail. The township then approved the 16-acre parcel for 78 residential units; Key Properties sold the residential land to the Ingerman Group, which has since developed the affordable housing community.
In 2016, Key Properties launched construction of the Hanover Crossroads shopping center on the property’s retail-zoned acreage. Located at 110 East Hanover Avenue, Hanover Crossroads today is fully leased and nearing completion, offering 107,000 square feet of retail space. T.J.Maxx, HomeGoods, Five Below, Ulta Beauty, Auto Zone, QuickChek and MedExpress Urgent Care already are open for business. They will be joined by Old Navy, Famous Footwear, IHOP and an Italian restaurant with catering services – all of which signed leases this summer.
“This property sat fallow for 20 years,” said Key Properties’ David Schlussel, co-managing partner of the full-service real estate development, construction and management firm. “To remediate a brownfield site and see it turned into affordable housing and a new shopping center is very exciting. Now we are setting our sights on adding green power to complete the site’s transformation.”
BROWNFIELD TO GREEN FIELD
Earlier this year, Hanover Township provided preliminary approvals for Key Properties to install a solar farm on a low-occupancy-use parcel capped during the property’s environmental remediation. “We are optimistic about our plan to generate clean, renewable power,” said Marc Schlussel, co-managing partner. “Solar is the perfect solution to engage this regulated area in a productive use, and we are thrilled that Hanover Township sees the same potential and benefit.”
He noted that several Hanover Crossroads’ tenants already have expressed early interest in purchasing the power.
Hanover Township Mayor Ron Francioli shares this enthusiasm. “Hanover applauds the responsible actions of our corporate and industrial neighbors such as Key Properties, as they seek to employ solar energy as a means to conserve resources and the environment,” he said.
Looking to the future has been part of the Hanover Crossroads development from the start. As part of the infrastructure improvements at Hanover Crossroads, Key Properties provided access for the future solar field. The Schlussels acknowledge there are many additional steps to take before the solar array can be erected, including getting sign-off from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and final site plan approval from the municipality. Additionally, the solar array must be fully engineered and technical details finalized.
As part of the Hanover Crossroads project, Key Properties widened East Hanover Avenue – a county road – and installed an additional traffic light, in accordance with Morris County’s East Hanover Avenue Corridor Traffic Study. This initiative enhanced overall vehicular flow and improved truck ingress/egress for an adjacent Morris County DPW facility.
The rezoning from office/industrial to retail at the Hanover Crossroads site also has spurred a revitalization along this heavily trafficked corridor. Hanover Crossroads sits directly across from the Walmart-anchored Cedar Knolls Plaza. Following the Hanover Crossroads project launch, a new, highly successful ShopRite location was developed and opened nearby, BJ’s Wholesale Club was approved for an 18-acre site on East Hanover Avenue, and Lidl also received approvals for a new location adjacent to Hanover Crossroads.
Key Properties is a third-generation, family-owned and operated company. The organization invests in a range of commercial property types – with a focus on value-added potential. Concentrated in Northern and Central New Jersey, the Key Properties portfolio today includes approximately 500,000 square feet of assets and over 30 acres of developable land. Since its inception in 1970, Key Properties has completed a variety of projects including office, industrial and retail properties, as well as mixed-use developments.