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OCEAN TWP., NJ-Pending a couple of environmental OK’s, Kohl’s is preparing to join the Middlebrook Shopping Center here as a new anchor. This township’s planning board has unanimously approved an application by center owner Middlebrook at Monmouth, a local group, for the first phase of a two-phase makeover. The initial phase involves demolition of an existing portion of the center, new construction for Kohl’s to replace it and relocation of several existing tenants at the 150,000-sf center.

The new Kohl’s store will add up to 95,000 sf, and the department store will join an existing Foodtown supermarket as a center anchor. According to the just-approved first-phase plan offered up by Middlebrook at Monmouth general manager Robert Silverstein, an existing building that is currently occupied by Cost Cutters, Frank’s Big & Tall and Weight Watchers will be torn down and replaced by the new construction for Kohl’s. The estimated cost is $7 million, according to Silverstein.

The plan also calls for Frank’s Big & Tall to be relocated to another building at the southern end of the shopping center, which is situated along Route 35. Weight Watchers will similarly be relocated, to a spot to be determined. And Cost Cutters will exit the shopping center entirely.

The project still requires a stream encroachment permit from the New Jersey DEP–the new Kohl’s building will be closer to the rear of the property and the bordering Harvey Brook than the existing facility. And a soil erosion permit from Monmouth County still needs to be obtained.

Middlebrook at Monmouth is also expected to apply for a permit to start phase two of the center’s makeover, a step that would largely entail facade improvements to the rest of the facility, including the Foodtown store, according to Silverstein. No date has been set for that application.

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