HANOVER, NJ-This township’s planning board has unanimously given its approval for a headquarters and training facility for Major League Soccer’s Red Bulls, currently based in Secaucus, NJ. Pending a state Department of Environmental Protection sign-off on a wetlands application, construction could start by the end of this year, with a targeted completion of December 2008.

“Our facility will finally give the Red Bulls a place we can call home,” says the organization’s managing director, Marc de Grandpre. “We’re committed to seeing this team and this sport be successful in the tri-state area, and this facility is a huge piece of that puzzle.”

As reported by GlobeSt.com, formal plans were unveiled in August, and getting planning board approval took less than three months. Those plans call for a 50,000-sf office building that will house the sporting and business sides of the team, including multiple locker rooms, a players’ lounge, weight room and trainer’s room.

Also part of the plan are a separate one-story, 3,700-sf field house, and six soccer fields, five of them outdoor fields and one of them indoor, covered by a tension fabric frame structure. The organization plans to preserve approximately 19 acres of the site on Melanie Lane as open space, with much of that currently acreage falling into the wetlands category.

The cost of the project has not been released. The site itself is owned by the Secaucus-based Hartz Mountain Industries, and the deal calls for Red Bulls organization to own the complex outright and occupy the site under a long-term ground lease with Hartz.

The planning board’s approval comes just a week after the Hanover Twp. committee approved an application to change the site’s zoning from industrial to recreational/industrial. The next step, in addition to state DEP wetlands application approval, is the application for a building permit to actually start construction.

“We look forward to becoming part of the community,” de Grandpre says. “With this facility we will be able to provide opportunities for youths in the region.

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