Foodtown, Bradlees buildings razed
Demolition of Route 70 eyesore years in the making
The old Foodtown building is now part of Brick Township's history.
About half of the 120,700- square-foot building came down on Friday. Piles of steel and concrete are pretty much all that remains of the Foodtown store and the old Bradlees building, where residents once shopped for meals and bought their clothes.
The wrecking crews were onsite early Friday morning, along with Mayor Stephen C. Acropolis, state Sen. Andrew W. Ciesla and several council members to watch the 1960s-era complex be dismantled.
"It was absolutely awesome to see," Acropolis said.
The mayor made the first crack in the wall with a piece of excavating equipment.
"It couldn't have been more exciting," the mayor said. "It was really pretty amazing. When they took the façade off, you could still see the old letters spelling "Bradlees."
The building, long a township eyesore, has been vacant for years. It was once home to a 90,000-square-foot Bradlees store and a 30,000-square-foot Foodtown store. The Bradlees store closed its doors more than 15 years ago. Foodtown closed sometime between 2002 and 2003, Township Planner Michael Fowler has said.
"We used to go in there [Bradlees] as kids and shop for back-toschool clothes," Acropolis said. "This is probably the largest building that has ever been taken down in the history of Brick Township."
Carting away all the debris will probably take some time, he said.
"You've got to sort the steel out, grind down the concrete," he said. "They have a grinder on-site. It's a big process. You're talking about a pretty sizeable building."
Once the building is down, the redevelopment process can begin.
The state has already initially endorsed the site as a "smart growth" area, which should speed up the permitting process, Acropolis said.
"Normally it takes 12 to 18 months for the permitting process," he said. "I'm hoping it could take six months."
Brick purchased the site for $6.1 million in 2003, during the administration of former Democratic Mayor Joseph C. Scarpelli, to stop the construction of a proposed Home Depot store on the site.
Township officials and M&M Realty Partners, the redeveloper for the site, came to an agreement recently that M&M would arrange for the building's demolition.
Jack Morris, president of M&M Realty Partners, took his turn in the excavating machine on Friday, Acropolis said.
"People love to knock stuff down," the mayor said. "They are ready to go. It's just a matter of getting the state onboard.
The next step is for M&M to start negotiating with hotel and banquet facility firms, Acropolis said.
"A lot of people won't commit until there's a building permit in place. People have already contacted him [Morris] about coming to Brick."
Township Council members voted unanimously in May 2008 to introduce an ordinance that established the Metedeconk Village Redevelopment Plan. The plan calls for a variety of mixed uses on the site. The township Planning Board later declared the site "an area in need of redevelopment."
"This is going to be the first redevelopment project that takes place inside our town center," Acropolis said.
M&M has proposed a fourstore, 120-room hotel, 73,000 square feet of retail space including a 45,730-square-foot grocery store, two restaurant pads that would be placed in the front of the property, and a banquet hall.
Candidates from both political parties running in the 2003 race for Township Council, which included Acropolis and current Republican council members Ruthanne Scaturro, Michael Thulen and Anthony Matthews, said at the time that they would like to see the Foodtown building used for recreational purposes.
But Acropolis, who was a Republican councilman in 2006, announced that the plan to use the Foodtown site as a recreation center was "dead in the water" because of traffic concerns.