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SOMERVILLE, NJ-The borough council of this Somerset County seat has approved a contract with developer JSM at Somerville LLC that could lead to a $60 million downtown redevelopment project. Public hearings and final approval of the site plan are all that stand in the way of the project, which will be completed in four phases over a five-year period.

The deal had been in the works since this past February, as reported by GlobeSt.com, and actual negotiations with the Piscataway, NJ-based developer began in April. The project will transform a 1970s retail complex called the Downtown Somerville Shopping Center into mixed uses. The existing center was itself an urban renewal project that essentially put a suburban-style strip mall along two blocks of Main Street frontage.

That formula never really worked, and the retail stores have struggled for years. JSM’s fully developed project will boost the $500,000 in property tax revenues the site currently generates to more than $2 million, according to Mayor Brian Gallagher.

JSM’s plan calls for razing the existing shopping complex, sparing only the 57,500-sf Pathmark supermarket anchoring it. The proposal also calls for major infrastructure improvements around the site, including a new 400-car parking deck. The rest of the site plan has a new three-story, 110,115-sf retail, restaurant and office building replacing the existing shopping center.

Other components of the project include a four-story, 60,300-sf building with retail space, a physical fitness center and rental apartments; two other residential buildings of four and five stories; and a 7,400-sf residential building. The residential component would total 275 apartments.

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