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EDISON, NJ-Edison Towne Square, a mixed-use development set to rise where a Ford plant once stood, is nearing its kick-off after its developer–Hartz Mountain Industries–gave the city its first installment of $1.5 million. The project has been four years in the planning.

This summer, Hartz Mountain will begin construction on the first phase, which envisions a 140,000-square-foot Sam’s Club with a gas station on Route 1. Hartz Mountain purchased the 98-acre parcel in 2004. In April, the Edison Planning Board gave final approval to the Edison Towne Square concept, which will include a mix of retail, restaurants, office space, entertainment venues and a hotel.

In addition to the $1.5 million, Hartz Mountain also donated 7.5 acres of land adjacent to Paterniti Park on the site’s Vineyard Road border. Hartz president Emanuel Stern presented Mayor Jun Choi the symbolic check on Wednesday as part of a civics class at the Edison High School. The city has already received $1 million and will get $500,000 on June 8.

“The $1.5 million will immediately go toward much needed tax relief during these difficult economic times,” said Mayor Choi in a statement. “As this major redevelopment project comes to fruition it will create local jobs, boost the local economy and increase revenue that will help stabilize taxes.”

As part of the project, Hartz will widen Route 1, place permanent buffers along Vineyard Road and Route 1, install a road and drainage system, including the site’s retention basin.”We expect Edison Towne Square, with its excellent demographics and location on Route 1, will generate more development and jobs for the surrounding area as the economy recovers,” Stern said. “We are preparing the site and placing all the infrastructure needed, and we will be able to deliver the remaining phases of the development.”

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