Meadowsweet Farm has been in the Schwartz -Greenberg family for 82 years. It was operated as a dairy farm by Jacob and Silva Greenberg of blessed memory. It is located in Wall Township, in Monmouth County, New Jersey. It has frontage on Hwy 34 and on the Asbury -Farmingdale Road. The Farm is designated Block 913, Lots 2, 3 and 15 on the Wall Township tax map. It is approximately 101 acres in extent. It is zoned OR-10 for Office/Research. It is owned by Jesse Schwartz, Robert Schwartz and Arthur Schwartz.
Monmouth County’s Solid Growth
The Farm is centrally located in Monmouth County which is New Jersey’s fastest growing area and is home to PNC Bank Arts Center, Monmouth University and Brookdale College.
Monmouth County is located in the center of the Boston-to-Washington corridor. Distances to major cities in the corridor are:-
New York City 71
Washigton D.C. 191
The Farm is 15 minutes drive from the Garden State Parkway linking it with the New York City metropolitan area. East of the Parkway are the Jersey shore towns of Asbury Park, Bradley Beach and Belmar. It is 15 minutes from Interstate 195 providing access to Philadelphia. It is a short distance from U.S. Highway 9 which traverses the County north and south and figures prominently in transportation plans.
The following article appeared in the Atlanticville, a Long Branch, New Jersey newspaper on February 16, 2005:-
County dept. reports solid economic growth
Monmouth County again was among the nation’s leaders in job growth and nonresidential development, according to the Monmouth County Department of Economic Development and Tourism.
The county’s nonresidential construction totaled $34,311,681 in the fourth quarter of 2004, marking the 12th straight quarter of $30 million-plus growth. That makes Monmouth County one of the fastest-growing and most prosperous counties in the United States, Bea Duffy, the department’s director, said in a press release.
“Nearly every economic indicator is positive, from job development to corporate attraction and retention to future private investment,” she said. “The Milken Institute ranks us 10th in the nation’s top 200 markets, the Small Business Administration ranks us second in the state for small business loans, and at least three of the state’s top commercial real estate firms say our office vacancy is under 10 percent.”
The department gathers data on construction permits in four nonresidential construction areas: commercial/retail, office/research, industrial and public. The $34,311,681 worth issued in the fourth quarter declined from the $66,002,771 issued in the third quarter because of a significant decline in public construction spending. For comparison, the results were $68,624,570 in the fourth quarter of 2003, she said.
This report is based on a survey of nonresidential construction permits valued at $25,000 or more that municipalities issue. They do not include permits valued below $25,000. Nine municipalities reported they issued no qualifying permits. Four municipalities are fully developed and do not report.
State-funded school construction had been a major element in nonresidential construction spending. Had school spending even matched third quarter, 2004 totals, the fourth quarter would have been the third best of the year. The decline was largely offset by healthy increases in the office/research and industrial sectors, a clear indication that private investors see Monmouth County as a place to thrive, she said.
Arthur Chasey, the assistant director, said that in terms of proposed square footage of nonresidential construction reviewed by the Monmouth County Planning Board, the county had its best year in the three years this department has collected that data. The board reviewed applications for 2,161,212 square feet of proposed construction in the fourth quarter of 2004, compared to 758,960 in the third quarter and 662,100 in the fourth quarter of 2003.
The county reviewed 5,117,363 square feet of nonresidential construction in 2004 compared to 3,698,392 in 2003 and 4,842,601 in 2002. These results clearly indicate a continued strong growth in construction in coming years. The data also tells where near-term development will occur, he said.
The county’s economic condition can be measured by office occupancy, since those are the jobs that drive the rest of the economy, Chasey said.
“Monmouth County boasts one of the lowest office vacancy rates in the state,” he said. “The office vacancy rate is just 7 percent: 18,756,519 square feet are leased, while just 1,843,275 are vacant.”
The state average remains around 20 percent, due in part by large-scale vacancies in Somerset, Middlesex and Morris counties. Those counties might be considered Monmouth County’s main competitors in the office/research market, Chasey said.
The federal Small Business Administration’s New Jersey District Office reported that it made 179 loans valued at $45.5 million to county businesses in 2004, second only to Middlesex County, where the SBA issued 228 loans valued at $46.6 million. For comparison, SBA in 2003 wrote 203 loans worth $49.8 in Monmouth County, compared to 213 loans for $42.9 million in Middlesex. SBA clearly sees a strong Monmouth County, Chasey said..[our italics]
Monmouth-Ocean’s increasingly diversified industrial base creates opportunities for strong long-term growth. The metro area is an attractive residential location for nearby workers in Middlesex and many New York commuters. Downsizing in the telecom sector negatively impacted employment in the metro given the presence of Lucent Technologies, AT&T and Verizon, but employment appears to have stabilized. Competitive commercial real estate prices have allowed the area to attract small research facilities such that its concentration of high-tech industries is 15 percent greater than the nation overall.
Arthur Chasey, the department’s assistant director, said, “We have national and regional surveys that show Monmouth County’s economic health is stronger than much of the region and nation,”. “Our growth is based on small- and medium-size companies that create and retain high-paying jobs; we are not heavily dependent on a few large corporations to drive our economic engine. The result is more flexibility, less exposure to recessionary pressure and greater opportunities for our residents.”
Asbury Park Redevelopment
In the June 23rd, 2004 issue of the Wall Street Journal, page B1appeared an article New life for Asbury Park, It told of how a group of developers are working to revive its blighted beachfront. They plan ultimately to have upscale urban neighborhoods with more than 3,000 units arrayed along 1.25 miles of beachfront. They have won approvals and are going ahead. Asbury Park is about 7 miles from the Farm.
Strong growth in Monmouth County’s population and commercial properties has led to accelerating gains in the equalized tax base of the county. From 1993 to 2004 the equalized tax base has increased by 99.9%. Over the last eleven years, the tax base has not only increased every year, but has also increased at an accelerating rate. This clearly shows the rapidly urbanizing trend in the County. Another indication of growth is that prices of new homes continued to increase sharply compared to the United States. In 2003 the median price of a new single family home in Monmouth County was $480,000, a 14% rise over the previous year and a 20% rise from two years ago. (Monmouth County Profile, 2004, page 20).
In May we were privileged to talk with Bob Clark, The Monmouth County Planning Director. He told us that Monmouth County’s economic growth has been very steady at 1% per year or 10% per decade.
Similarly, Joseph Verruni, the Wall Township Administrator reports that “the township’s economic growth is constant. Wall develops rather consistently at 1.5% to 2% growth per year. That has been from the 1950s until now and the figures (1.5 to 2%) are the same for residential growth.”
I think we can reasonably conclude that the Farm is in the midst of an area urbanizing on the basis of solid fundamentals.
The Highway 34 Corridor
The Shopping Center
A shopping center has been approved for a large vacant tract at Wyckoff road and routes 33 and 34 -the site of the old Shore Drive-In movie. It will be approximately 130,000sq.ft.We understand that it will contain 15 to 25 stores-possibly anchored by a Barnes and Noble bookstore and an office supply store along with one or two restaurants and a bank.
The site was approved for a Wal-Mart in 1998.In 2001 Home Depot planned to build there. Both companies later decided to locate on a few miles away on Route 66 near Jumping Brook Road. The site is about 1800 feet from the Farm.
The old traffic circle at the intersection of Highways 33,34 and the Asbury Road is about to be converted to a “modified roundabout “to improve traffic flow and safety. This is sure to enhance retail development in the vicinity and is 2000 feet from the Farm. The project is being managed by the State Department of Transportation.
A large retail REIT is attempting to gain approval and build an even larger retail center near the Wal-Mart site on RTE. 66, just 5 miles from the Farm.
The corporate headquarters of the New Jersey Natural Gas Co., a three story office building, is located at 1415 Wyckoff Rd. just off of Hwy 34 on a 22acre site. It is 600 feet from the Farm.
Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield formally opened the company’s new office building located at 1427 Wyckoff Road on Oct.28, 2004. It is on 37 acres at the corner of Megill and Wyckoff Roads.
The three story, 200,000-square-foot building will house 800 employees initially and could grow to more than 1,000 employees, according to company officials. It is just up the road from the gas company, about 1200 feet from the Farm. It was built by Commercial Realty and Resources of Wall Township.
Then there is burgeoning development around the Monmouth Shore Corporate Park 1650 feet from the Farm.
A development called Wall Corporate and Professional Park is planned on a tract directly across from the airport 2.4 miles from the Farm, south along Hwy 34. It will comprise approximately 300,000 sq. ft of commercial space.
On April 13th,Sheldon Gross Realty announced that a new office development project in the corridor just minutes from the Farm. We’ve taken the following from their website:-
500,000-SF Office/Research Park Gets Approvals
Wall Twp., NJ – Sheldon Gross Realty has gotten its New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection permits in place and plans to start development of Wall Business Center II in this Monmouth County community. The 47-acre development site, which fronts on Highway 34, has been cleared by the state agency for between 300,000 sf and 500,000 sf.
Final site plans remain to be determined. However, the site is zoned for a combination of office and research space. The projected space will be made up of a combination of “several” three-story office and single-story flex buildings, according to Sheldon A. Gross, president and CEO of the company that bears his name. Development time frame and the cost of the project have not been released. “Since there is tremendous pent-up demand for new space in the region, we anticipate very strong tenant interest for Wall Business Center II.”
The project is one of several new developments that have brightened the real estate picture, particularly on the office sector, in Monmouth County recently. Most notably, VOIP telephone service provider Vonage recently signed a full-building lease for the 360,000-sf 23 Main St. in Holmdel, a signing that accompanied Mack-Cali Realty Corp.’s concurrent acquisition of the building from a major financial institution.
Mack-Cali has been buying up a number of properties in the region in the past year or so. Also, Normandy Real Estate Partners recently acquired the 200,000-sf 90 Matawan Rd. in Old Bridge, and has launched an aggressive marketing campaign to fill up the building once intended to be the headquarters of a Conexant predecessor company.
Chelsea GCA specializes in the development and operation of outlet center malls nationwide. It is in the preliminary stages of planning a 400,000 square foot outlet center on the southeast corner of Route 34 and Hurley Pond Road, just south of the airport, across from Wall Stadium. They are holding talks with the Township.
Bob Clark, the Monmouth County Planning director told us that Wychoff Road from Hwy 33 to 34 will be improved from two lanes to 4 lanes. Also the intersection with 34 will be improved. This is adjacent to the Farm.
At Collingswood Park Circle there is a proposed Marriot Extended Stay hotel for business people. Please see A11.Also further along on Wychoff Road, CR& R, a subsidiary of New Jersey Natural Gas Co. is building a huge office and warehousing complex. In other words, proceeding westward along Wychoff from the intersection with Hwy 34 there is the Natural gas Co.’s offices and then the just completed Horizon-Blue Shield offices, all a few minutes from the Farm.
Howell Township has plans to make Hwy 33 a redevelopment zone. This will heighten property values all the more.
The Highway 66 Corridor
In Tinton Falls, just east of the intersection of Hwy33 and Rt.66,
near the Asbury Park Press building, a commercial mall with 130 stores
is being planned. This is just a few minutes away from the Farm.
We provide a map of the Walmart, Walgreens and Home Depot along Rt.
Monmouth Executive Airport 2.4 miles to the south of the Farm, along Hwy34.Please see A5 and A6. It includes an office and industrial park. It is centrally located to serve corporate and personal aircraft. It has a full range of services and facilities and is easily accessed from Route I-195 and Route 34.It is privately owned and is about to be purchased by Monmouth County. We met recently with Art Casey, Assistant Director, Dept. of Economic Development for Monmouth County, who assured me that the negotiations are well advanced.
An article in the May 19,2004 issue of the Wall Street Journal page D4 speaks of the of the launching of “air taxi’” services.” The goal is to let corporate travelers bypass crowded airports and fly into smaller, local airports, at half of the current cost of chartering a jet” This is based on the arrival of a new generation of “micro jets” that can operate more cheaply than conventional jets. With its strategic location in Monmouth County it seems that the airport is well suited to accommodating “air taxi” services which in turn will accelerate local development.
In the vicinity of the airport are numerous businesses most are of an engineering or technological nature. When the airport passes into municipal hands might this not set off a mini-bloom or flourishing of high tech enterprises who will have right there a gateway to the national and world market.
A case in point, Air Cruisers, located on Hwy 34,adjacent to the airport, have just added 1000 sq. feet to their building. They make slides for disembarking from an airplane in an emergency.
Proposals For Commuter Rail Transit
There are several exciting proposals for the commuter rail transit in the County. These are based upon utilizing existing rail lines that are now dedicated to freight. One plan called the Monmouth Junction Alignment, shown in orange, would provide access from Lakehurst to Lakewood, Farmingdale and Freehold and continuing west would link up with the Amtrak Northeast Corridor Line providing direct service to Princeton, Trenton and Newark and on to Manhattan and Boston and south to Philadelphia and Washington. It would provide commuters with a more rapid and reliable way to get to work and relieve increasing traffic congestion on Route 9.It would also provide the growing senior population and others with access to jobs, medical centers, colleges, cultural activities, and Newark airport. This is the route most favored by the County. Were this route to be adopted it would mean that the Farm and environs would be expeditiously linked to the Northeast Corridor. This would surely be an incentive for high tech and commercial development in the area. Now the closest approach of the line to the Farm would be at Farmingdale. This is but a few minutes drive via the Asbury -Farmingdale Road which runs along the northern boundary of the Farm.
Now another route, marked in purple, goes from Lakehurst to Lakewood, Farmingdale, Freehold and then Matawan. This is the route favored by NJ Transit. Its called the Matawan Alignment. One difficulty is that the route from Freehold to Matawan threatens a bicycle route that has just been completed at considerable cost. Overall, it is much more pedestrian than the Monmouth Junction plan as it links up at Matawan with New Jersey Coast Line requiring a lengthy journey to Newark before access to the Northeast Corridor line. A third alternative is shown by the green line. It would provide a root from Lakehurst, to Lakewood, to Farmingdale and on to Red Bank where it would link up with the New Jersey Coast Line. This is the existing Southern Branch of the Conrail line, at present dedicated to freight service. At one point, it comes within 3600 feet of the Farm where it crosses the Asbury-Farmingdale Road. A glance at a map shows that it would make a fine commuter route. It could linkup in Redbank with the main New Jersey transit line providing access to Newark and New York. The latter two alternatives provide much needed local access but they do not provide the highspeed Northeast Corridor access nor the coast to coast access of the Monmouth Junction Alternative. The choice of which of the three routes will be developed is a hot issue and the County is asking everyone to get involved and express their views. If New Jersey Transit agrees, there is a prospect that some years from now, a person working in an office on the Farm can drive a few minutes to a station in Farmingdale and get on board for Boston or San Francisco!
We currently have before us two offers from NYSE listed developers. One is for $12.2 million to build 234 condos, 25% affordable. The other is for $9 million, 174 condos, 25% affordable. Both will take 4 years to get the zoning variance and building permits they require.
We are prepared to discount for an offer that will close in 3 to 6 months.
Letter of Interpretation ( LOI )
We have received a Letter of Interpretation from the New Jersey Environmental Department dated October 25, 2007. It states that out of the total tract of approximately 101 acres, approximately 58 acres are uplands and approximately 43 acres are wetlands. Please see Figure 6 below for the LOI document. Please see figure 7 below for the wetlands map.