Plan outlines future growth for Raceway Mall

By linda denicola
Staff Writer

By linda denicola
Staff Writer

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP — The developer of the Freehold Raceway Mall, Route 9, is seeking preliminary approval of buildout plans for 127 acres of the large mall area. The so-called General Development Plan (GDP) is for projects to be completed over the next few years.

In the meantime, Freemall Associates is seeking approval for a 100,047-square-foot, two-story sporting goods store called Galyan’s to be constructed at the intersection of Winners Circle and Trotters Way. That project will probably begin as soon as final approval is made, possibly at the next Planning Board meeting in June, said Guy Leighton, the township’s assistant planner.

In addition, the Planning Board will approve, reject or amend a final resolution on the GDP at a future meeting.

"Galyan’s can’t be approved until the GDP is approved. There are parts of the GDP that are up in the air," Leighton said.

He said Freemall Associates has "been anxious for years to start building, but the town wanted to see the overall plan first. We didn’t want them to keep coming in with these proposals when we weren’t able to see how this was going to develop. There are time elements as to what follows what."

The building and parking area for the proposed sporting goods store would be constructed on an existing lawn area, said Leighton. Site improvements include minor changes to the adjacent parking areas, new parking areas for 588 vehicles, site lighting and landscaping in the RMZ-1 zone.

As part of the Galyan’s plan, Freemall Associates has submitted proposed Trotters Way road improvements to the Route 537 jughandle which includes widening Trotters Way to allow for left turn lanes at all major intersections and widening of the Route 537 jughandle to allow two full lanes to enter though the traffic light onto Trotters Way.

According to the GDP improvement schedule, construction of the road upgrades will start at about the same time as Galyan’s with a target completion date in the fall of 2003 in time for the holiday shopping season.

In a memorandum to the Planning Board, Leighton said that with this pro­posal, the entire mall complex will contain 1.42 million square feet of gross leasable space.

As part of the general, long-range plans, the developer has proposed a 250,000-square-foot addition for a sixth anchor store, a multilevel parking deck, a hotel with two restaurants and an office building along the Route 33 bypass, southwest of the Sears store.

The sixth anchor department store and parking deck would be within the ring road located between Macy’s on the south and Nordstrom on the north.

Leighton said the proposed hotel would have to have at least 100 rooms so that the applicant would be allowed a liquor license under state law.

"I don’t think it will be two restaurants in the hotel. Most likely one would be sep­arate," he said.

The developer is also proposing to con­struct a $2 million Wemrock Road exten­sion as a two-lane road to connect Wemrock Road through the proposed right-of-way on the Oakley parcel to the mall ring road [Winners Circle].

The Wemrock Road access is one of the issues that is up in the air, Leighton noted.

Although a GDP has been submitted, each new component is still required to submit site plans for Planning Board ap­proval, Leighton said.

About 40 residents attended the Planning Board hearing on May 7 because they are concerned about conditions at the mall now and in the future. In addition, Leighton said, some people on Wemrock Road don’t want the proposed access road and the residents in the Oakley Meadows subdivision across from the proposed of­fice building don’t want to look at an office building.

"This plan is very broad. It’s just a general idea. They would still have to come in for site plan approval for individ­ual elements," he said.