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An industrial ‘eyesore’ is getting new life as an apartment complex

Multifamily Housing

An industrial ‘eyesore’ is getting new life as an apartment complex

The project, in Metuchen, N.J., includes significant improvements to a nearby wildlife preserve.

By John Caulfield, Senior Editor | May 12, 2023
Rendering of Class A apartment building in Metuchen, N.J, that replaces a factory-warehouse.
A Class-A apartment building will replace a factory-warehouse that's been closed for decades in Metuchen, N.J. The developer is paying for this redevelopment through an incentive program that will provide the municipality with investment capital for infrastructure improvements. Image credit: Klein Enterprises

Last month, the demolition of a dilapidated warehouse/factory in Metuchen, N.J., commenced to make way for an apartment complex with 272 Class A studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom units.

The multifamily community redevelopment is being spearheaded by Klein Enterprises, a 75-year-old firm with nearly 60 assets in its portfolio. Last year, Klein acquired the Gulton factory as part of the development parcel that is adjacent to a 30-acre wildlife preserve. It made that acquisition under the PILOT incentive program, which allows the developer to make payments to the borough in lieu of taxes based on the project’s revenue. Over the 30-year agreement, it is estimated that Klein Enterprises will pay $20 million. The borough would receive 95 percent of the PILOT revenue.

This project will provide Metuchen—a bedroom community that’s a 45-minute train ride from New York City—with millions of dollars to invest in infrastructure. Prior to the start of the factory demolition, the property had already undergone a $10 million environmental remediation that included the planting of 3,000 trees. (The land is bounded on the west by a borough-owned woodland within the wildlife preserve, which will receive $1 million of Klein’s PILOT payments earmarked for improvements that include a network of trails and paths, more open space, and access and parking for a new nature preserve.)

A solution after years of discussion

The apartment complex is expected to take 24 months to complete by the fall of 2025. Fifteen percent of the units will meet New Jersey’s affordable housing requirements. Six of the apartments, all on the ground floor, will be one-bedroom live-work homes.

The community’s interior design will honor artists, literary figures, and intellectuals who brought culture and the arts to Metuchen in the 1800s. The project is also pursuing green initiatives that include a partial green roof, large solar array, electric car charging stations, LED lighting, and a pollinator garden. Other amenities will include a dog park, pool, and community garden.

The site of the apartment complex is located at 212 Durham Avenue. Metuchen Realty Advisors, which acquired the land in 1986 and did the environmental cleanup, sold a piece of the land to Middlesex County, and will transfer the remaining open space after the community is completed. This land is adjacent to the planned expansion of the popular Middlesex County Greenway linear park.

Metuchen Mayor Jonathan M. Busch was quoted as stating that discussions about how to redevelop this industrial site had been ongoing for decades. (The Borough designated the Gulton property as an area in need of development in 2015.) The redevelopment, he stated, “enable[s] us to open the largest recreational space in Metuchen, fund a variety of important infrastructure projects, and help protect our environment, all while providing our community with new housing options.”

The apartment complex is located near Metuchen’s train station, and will be within walking distance to the borough’s downtown.

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