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LONG BRANCH, NJ-Proposals have been floated in the past to redevelop this oceanfront city’s Lower Broadway downtown area, and the city council has now given its approval to the latest plan. Called “Broadway Center,” and carrying an estimated price tag of $300 million, it calls for entertainment, retail, offices, residential and other uses along this city’s Broadway and stretching for several blocks.

The developer picking up official approval is Broadway Arts Center LLC, a partnership made up of principles of three prominent local business families. Involved in the project are the Katz and Siperstein families, who own the chain of Siperstein’s Paint and Decorating Center stores, and the Pereira family, which owns Pax Construction among other real estate interests.

Noted architects Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum have been hired to design the project. HOK president William Hellmuth unveiled the plans before the city council late last week. “This is a community that had vitality at one time, and that vitality had eroded,” Hellmuth told council members. “It is a high calling to come back and revitalize a community like this.”

While this city’s oceanfront area has indeed been revitalized in recent years, this latest project is aimed at taking that momentum to the city’s downtown area. BAC’s plan calls for a total of 543 residences, with 100 designated for low- and moderate-income residents, 341 market-rate units and 102 homes set aside as what the developers term “live-work units” for offices at home. Also part of the plan are upwards of 170,000 sf of retail space, an office space component and three parking garages.

Those uses, under HOK’s plans, would be arrayed in a series of four-story buildings with ground-floor retail, a second floor of offices and residences on the top two stories. At the center of the plan is what the developers term “a blues alley” that would be lined with restaurants and entertainment venues. The plan also calls for the shuttered Paramount Theater to be restored and returned to use. According to Hellmuth, his firm’s design encompasses a series of “different looks” that would give the redevelopment area a look of having been built “over time” and not all at once.

According to project manager Patience O’Connor, current plans call for the build-out to take place in three phases. First-phase work is expected to start this summer and be completed by the end of 2008.

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