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SANDY HOOK, NJ-Sandy Hook Partners, an affiliate of Red Bank, NJ-based Wassel Realty Group, has signed a letter of intent with the National Park Service to redevelop 36 surviving buildings on the site of the former Fort Hancock here. This six-mile-long peninsula at the entrance to New York harbor is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, over which the National Park Service has jurisdiction.

SHP, whose proposal was selected from among almost two dozen competitors, plans to turn the historic buildings into a business, hospitality, research and educational complex. The buildings, which include the distinctive yellow brick residences making up Officers Row and the massive Officers Club, were all built between the late 1870′s and 1940. The site had been part of metro New York’s coastal defenses from the Revolutionary War era until Fort Hancock was deactivated in the late 1960s.

A final lease agreement isn’t expected to be signed until next summer at the earliest, pending an environmental review and public comment on the proposal. In the interim, the letter of intent has given the go-ahead for SHP to begin to line up financing for the project, which is expected to cost as much as $60 million.

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