June 18, 2018 | ° F

Complex offers 'feel good' lifestyle

The New Brunswick skyline is set to change with the addition of the Pinnacle at New Brunswick Station, a 1.8 million square foot, $650 million complex.

The project will be located near the train station at the end of New Street. It will house residential units, office and retail space, a supermarket and a fitness facility, said Martin Santini, the project's architect.

The design of the project is based on the principles of new urbanism, which focus on creating urban spaces that incorporate sustainability with more enjoyment for residents, Santini said. The design, which will include walking spaces and landscaping, is meant to discourage residents and visitors from using their cars, he said.

"When you experience this environment, you feel good about yourself and the quality of life," Santini said. The plan is based on interpreting existing zoning ordinances to make the area a better place to be, he said.

"This project has a lot of benefits," Bill Bray, a city spokesman said. The project would provide more jobs, allow for a more sustainable lifestyle and residents would be able to work and shop without having to use a car, he said.

The project is transit-oriented due to its proximity to the train station. People who live in the residential units would have access to New York City, Boston, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia through the Northeast Corridor line, he said.

Phil Rowan, who is working with the developers, echoed Bray's statements about the project.

"We think there is a lot of opportunity for development," he said.

Santini said the city has such a great opportunity for expansion because of its proximity to the University, the hospitals, the arts and major corporations.

"It's become the kind of place where people who don't want to go into New York City can still experience city life," he said. There is also the possibility of having the New York City experience for less cost in New Brunswick because of the arts and restaurants, he said.

Mayor Jim Cahill and Thomas Moore, one of the developers, unveiled the plan earlier this month. Moore and his partner Larry Levy formed the New Street Area Development LLC for the project and have been acquiring the land for several years. In total, the project will cover over five acres in the city.

"We hope to get started in a couple years," Rowan said. He said they hope to be complete in about seven years. The developers have acquired about two-thirds of the land they need.

Bray said the project is not funded by the city and any further acquisitions would be negotiated through private sale. He said the city would not be involved in the sales of the property, with the exception of a publicly owned lot.

"If someone doesn't want to sell, they don't have to sell," Bray said.

The project may qualify for a tax abatement, in which property owners would pay lower taxes for a fixed period of time, either five or 30 years depending on what it is eligible for, he said.

"This is a way to make projects more economically viable," Bray said. The city competes with more open areas where builders can buy property that has never been built on, he said.

Developers in urban areas generally have to factor in the cost of demolition and the possibility of contamination from previous structures, Bray said.

Projects such as the Pinnacle, located in urban areas, are considered smart growth because they do not require the development of virgin spaces, he said.

"We're saving open space elsewhere," Bray said.

Because the unit will replace other housing the city, Bray said the city would be under obligation to ensure more affordable housing is created.

"The city will meet that obligation enthusiastically," he said.

The city created over 1,000 units of affordable housing over the last several years, including the recent renovation of the Lord Stirling School, which opened earlier this month, he said.

The proper way the plan, Bray said, is to mix affordable housing sites with luxury sites.

"The way to do it is to mix all these people together because that is how we live our lives," Bray said.

Michelle Cerone

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