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SOUTH BOUND BROOK, NJ-Matzel and Mumford has started construction on Canal Crossing, a redevelopment project mixing residential and retail uses. The Hazlet, NJ-based developer had spent the past year razing 250,000 sf of former industrial buildings and remediating the 10.5 acres to prep it for the redevelopment.

“The GAF property stood for years as an unsightly remnant of this community’s industrial past,” says Dave Fisher, vice president of government affairs for Matzel and Mumford, a K. Hovnanian company. “We have been able to forge an effective public/private partnership to transform blight into a mixed-use development.”

The site had housed a number of manufacturing uses over the years, most recently as a GAF plant. Earlier operations included the Standard Paint Co. and the Ruberoid Co., which was purchased by GAF back in the 1960s. The property also traces its industrial uses to a lumber mill and food storage facility for the Continental Army’s Middlebrook encampment in nearby Bridgewater during the winter of 1778-79.

Matzel & Mumford’s Canal Crossing takes its name from the Delaware and Raritan Canal that borders the site. The canal, dug in the mid 18th century, was a major waterway for commerce in the 18th and 19th centuries, and is currently maintained as a county park.

Canal Crossing will also take advantage of the canal, which while accessible for most of its length through Central New Jersey, has been largely off-limits within this community. “Our plan provides South Bound Brook residents with near-complete access for the first time in almost a century,” Fisher says.

The redevelopment will consist of a total of 152 townhomes, along with 23,000 sf of retail space. The latter component will have 18 market-rate residences above, and the retail component itself is being development in partnership with Tri-State Commercial Realty, according to Fisher.

The project is also part of a multi-tiered plan to revitalize this Somerset County community’s downtown. The site is part of a larger area that was designated as an area in need of redevelopment seven years ago by local officials. Also under way is a streetscape program within the larger area.

“We needed to convince a lot of people along the way that this was going to happen,” says Mayor Jo-Anne Schubert. “This development is the products of more than a decade of planning, negotiations and cooperation between the borough, the developer and federal agencies.”

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