Complex would include retail, restaurant and entertainment elements, along with public recreational facilities, office space, artist lofts and apartments

MANALAPAN, N.J. (9/25/03)—Plans for a $90 million, mixed-use, commercial ‘town center’ development at the intersection of State Highway 33 and Millhurst Road were presented to the Manalapan Township Committee at the governing body’s public meeting last night.

“As a ‘town center’ project, The Village at Manalapan would create an ideal sense of place for residents of this upscale township, as well as such affluent neighboring municipalities of Millstone and Monroe, a traditional community base for people to interact, to be entertained, to dine and to shop,” said Richard J. Brunelli, president of R.J. Brunelli & Co., Inc. The Old Bridge-based retail real estate firm is managing the development group, Manalapan Retail Realty Partners, LLC, which is proposing the construction of the 500,000-square-foot project on the 135-acre site.

The proposed Village at Manalapan would include five key elements:

Lifestyle Center—Plans call for this heavily landscaped area to be anchored by a major bookstore and an upscale specialty department store. As the Village at Manalapan’s closest element to Route 33, this area would have the most visibility to the highway’s traffic. “Our objective for this area is to create an ambience and merchant mix along the lines of The Grove at Shrewsbury,” noted Brunelli, whose firm was involved in the development and leasing of that eastern Monmouth County center and also directed the leasing on the newly developed Commons at Holmdel lifestyle center.

Downtown Center— Inspired by Broad Street in Red Bank, N.J., with its variety of restaurants, cafés, specialty shops and boutiques, this downtown ‘Main Street’ area would be situated adjacent to and behind the property’s lifestyle center. Connecting streets and landscaped, brick-paved walkways would link the two areas, facilitating cross-traffic. “Each storefront in the downtown area will be designed to appear as if it had been built in a different era,” Mr. Brunelli said. “Buildings will compliment one another, but will feature varied architectural styles.”

The ‘Main Street’ buildings would be two- and three-stories tall, with second-story space hosting several restaurants with outside decks for dining. Plans also call for the upper levels of some of this area’s buildings to include loft-style professional office space and studios for use by artists, professional dancers and other members of the arts community. In addition, the developers are considering including a limited number of residential units above the stores, providing managers and employees of The Village’s retail and restaurant establishments the ability to live on site. “These residents will add to the 24-hour security and nightlife of The Village’s downtown,” Mr. Brunelli noted.

Community Shopping—A supermarket-anchored community shopping center would be situated to the rear of the downtown center, sharing a parking field with ‘Main Street’s’ tenants. “In particular, The Village’s community shopping center would fill the strong need among residents of this section of Manalapan, as well as neighboring Millstone and Monroe, for a conveniently located supermarket,” Mr. Brunelli explained. “This area would likely be co-anchored by a second major retailer. However, we have no intention of bringing in a home improvement warehouse store to the community center or any other portion of the site.”

Entertainment— Plans call for The Village’s entertainment area to include a state-of-the-art, upscale multi-screen cinema with stadium seating, accompanied by a variety of sit-down restaurants. The site’s planned ‘Restaurant Row’ would, subject to the availability of liquor licenses, be targeted at national casual dining chains desiring to capitalize on the traffic generated by The Village’s theater and shops.

Public Places – The developer’s plans also call for The Village to incorporate a number of Public Places, including a Town Green, athletic fields and commuter parking.

With its band shell, landscaped grounds and plentiful park benches, The Village’s Town Green would serve as a focal point for entertainment and other special community events during warm weather months. ‘Restaurant Row’ would overlook the Green and would include ample outdoor seating and market-style umbrellas. Moreover, the Green’s lawn seating area would be designed as a shallow bowl that can be filled with water in the winter to create a public ice skating rink. “The adjacent traffic circle that connects the Village’s five elements will feature sculptures, fountains, flags and a colorful public garden,” Mr. Brunelli said.

The plan also calls for the northern section of The Village to feature large areas of open space that would be set aside for two soccer fields, a baseball diamond, eight tennis courts and, possibly, a state-of-the-art indoor tennis/health club and spa. The Manalapan-Englishtown Regional School District and the township’s recreational leagues would be invited to hold sporting events on the outdoor fields and courts.

Finally, the developer’s proposal calls for creating weekday commuter parking in a specially designated area adjoining the multiplex theater. “The theater would have limited customer parking needs from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays. To best utilize this available weekday parking, we are proposing a large commuter parking area and a location for buses to pick up and drop off commuters,” Mr. Brunelli explained. “We plan to work with transportation officials to design this element to serve the public, and would implement marketing programs encouraging commuters to shop and dine at The Village.”

The Village at Manalapan would serve an overall market within a 20-minute drive time of approximately 548,000 residents in 190,000 households, according to 2005 projections by Redlands, Calif.-based ESRI. Average household income within this market is projected to exceed $105,000 in 2005.

R.J. Brunelli & Co. currently serves as exclusive leasing representative for 15 existing centers and two properties under construction with a combined gross leasable area (GLA) of over 1.5 million square feet, along with 15 projects in the approvals stage with more than 1.1 million square feet of GLA. The properties are located throughout northern, central and southern New Jersey. The firm also serves as exclusive tenant representative in various New Jersey counties for 17 retail, restaurant and service chains, representing such major companies as Borders, Elizabeth Arden, Fortunoff’s, Staples and L.L. Bean Factory Store.


Press contacts: At R.J. Brunelli & Co., Inc., Richard J. Brunelli, president, (732) 721-5800; at Parness & Associates Public Relations, Bill Parness (732) 290-0121.