The New Brunswick Planning Board recommended adoption of a Redevelopment Plan for the New Brunswick Cultural Center area by the City Council. The Plan calls for development of new theaters and housing in the area, as well as permitting office, retail, restaurants and educational uses. The Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the Plan at its February 1 meeting.
The intent of the Redevelopment Plan is to create a development program for the 1.9-acre site situated in the New Brunswick cultural district. The site or “plan area” is located partially in the Downtown Development District Renewal Area , which is in an area in need of redevelopment, and partially in an Area In Need of Rehabilitation. One privately-owned parcels is in the redevelopment area and two are located in the rehabilitation area. The rehabilitation designation does not allow for eminent domain acquisitions pursuant to the redevelopment powers in the Local Redevelopment and Housing Law (NJSA 40A:12A-1 et seq.).
Historically, the plan area has been the location of publicly and privately-owned institutions developed in low-rise buildings. Lot 23.01 was originally partially developed as a YMCA. The YMCA was redesigned to house the George Street Playhouse in 1986. The balance of the improvements on the lot were demolished prior to 1988 and replaced with a new building housing Crossroads Theater in 1991. Lot 15.01 has been a surface parking lot since at least 1957. Lot 13.01 was developed as the headquarters of the New Brunswick Savings Bank in the 1920’s and now operates as a TD Bank branch.
The plan area is in the heart of the City’s cultural district. Redevelopment of the site provides an opportunity to improve and expand the City’s cultural facilities and introduce additional housing in the area to support the cultural organizations and downtown retail.
The plan proposes mixed use development to promote a vibrant and walkable urban area at the center for the city’s downtown neighborhood. The plan area is located in the State-designated Transit Village District, where dense, mixed-use development is preferred, so as to take advantage of the transit and pedestrian infrastructure proximate to this location.
Design flexibility is allowed by the plan so that architects have freedom in their design choices.
The plan regulates density, height and uses within broad envelopes.
Zoning regulations for the plan have elements of form-based code, as well as use-based code. The permitted uses are described in broad terms. More importantly, the zoning establishes building forms to promote a pedestrian-oriented environment at street level, so as to encourage pedestrian activity throughout the plan area.
The plan proposes high-density, mixed-use development as called for in the City Master Plan, City Master Plan Re-exam Report, transit village designation and the Core Vision study.
Parking standards for the area reflect the plan area’s proximity to a strong transit network, including the Northeast Corridor rail line, inter-city bus hub and a strong pedestrian-oriented downtown street grid.
The development proposed in the plan is consistent with the City, County and State master plans, which call for the area to be developed as a high-density, mixed-use urban area that takes advantage of the existing public infrastructure.