Metuchen's Indoor Sports Complex Proposals: And then there was one?

| 30 Comments
At the last Planning Board meeting, Jeff Jossell, developer of Suburban Sportsland, LLC - the proposed indoor/outdoor sports facility for the old Boro Motors site (which is at High Street and Prospect Ave), withdrew his application and left the hearing.  
 
After an 18 month process that has included three public meetings, two evenings of testimony before the planning board; architectural, engineering, traffic, and environmental studies, the developer hit a roadblock.  Kathy Elliott, the borough engineer, expressed concern over the location of the buildings.  Specifically, that land area is under consideration by the State Department of Transportation as the location for a proposed Route 287 interchange, a site to replace the one we lost when Wal Mart was built.  If the Suburban Sportsland building is too close to the proposed ramp location, the DOT might choose to not move forward with the project.
Suburban Sportsland was asked to re-configure the site and move the building further from the expected ramp location.  John Wiley, attorney for the developer, objected, believing strongly that it's unfair to ask a developer to scrap his plans and make changes this late in the game for a "what if" scenario.  Space is tight and the site has already been reconfigured to meet various other requests by the borough.  
 
The board supported the engineer's concerns. Without confirmation from the DOT, they agreed that risking possible development of the long awaited interchange was not an option. With a final offer of reconfigure or withdraw, the proposal was withdrawn.

30 Comments

So after reading all of the above comments & opinions.....what's the final status on these sports complex projects? Is anything going to be built?

People have a right to ask questions at a public meeting. Oh, except in Edison, only if your question is three minutes or less.

Does this mean that the group of people who have been stonewalling the Zoning Board with thier scripts will knock it off?

The Gateway District is the name the town gave the zoning district that includes the former Boro Motors property and the current Bridge Pointe and the self storage place.

The Oakite site does not include a "bubble." It involves re-using the existing warehouse building. One of their initial proposals included putting a bubble on Vidas Park in the winter months, but that idea was scrapped.

The Engineer should have spoken up a long time ago. That was already Jeff's third meeting. Fourth if you count the development commision meeting at which the proposal was intially discussed.

So nice to hear from members of Borough council anonymously blogging again. You're right. Much nicer to have a ramp to 287 in the neighborhood than a business. So perceptive of you to recognize that what plagues Metuchen is not a dirth of business but rather overdevelopment. Thanks Borough Council!

Not very dense at all and beautiful design, buildings are what 3 and 4 story, some folks houses are taller. Also check your setback from curb, very generous. Big parking lot and plaza.

Hope that developer doesn't pull his plans like Jeff did. Can't wait to do my first purchases in the Hardware store, wish they could have got the whole area in the project, that little stripmall and blockbuster but what they propose looks super! Pizza joint must be pumped, chaching.

Wish that little deli cross the street was still there, made a killer sandwhich......

check on the plans for Renaissance Project. Buildings very close to curb,4 story high buildings, not enough parking,parking on Highway. A very dense project. How does that pass the muster.

Jeff is going to make more money selling his land for the highway ramp. His proposal for the sports bubble was hardly a win-win for the town, and I heard some investors backed out of the deal, lets face it, times suck right now, and no one is building or lending.

Yet somehow its all the town's fault. Right. And I have a bridge for sale. Interested?


It's always amazed me that High Street residents weren't barking and screaming over this proposed complex. Folks from more than half of town aren't getting onto 27to go there, they'll be on High. The timing here is unfortunate but the stimulus package and infastructure projects are a relatively new development. Hell, we didn't realize any of this financial mess would happen 18 months ago. Things change. If we miss out on this ramp project because of a basketball court how stupid would that be?
And we keep hearing from everyone who thinks borough hall is to blame for a dead main street. What about the landlords who don't maintain the property but charge sky-high rents? And what about residents who don't shop here? Or shops that have a "we're doing it this way because we always have" attitude and drive customers elsewhere? There's plenty of blame to go around.

Maybe Jeff is a great guy to all of his friends in Metuchen who support this, but people in the neighborhood close to this proposal don't think so. The same way a lot of people near the Vidas site don't want their neighborhood to have the bubble there. When it has an affect on you and your neighborhood, meaning local streets not Metuchen in general, the proposal isn't a great idea. If there was a business proposal that didn't involve being open until almost midnight every night with high traffic volume it might be different.

So its better that the town lets anybody build whatever they want, where ever they want? You guys are amazing!! If they let the sports complex be built 10' from where the 287 ramp goes, then when the state came in and said its too close they can't build the ramp everyone would be criticizing the town for allowing it to be built in the first place. The other scenario would be that the state came in to do the ramp and had to buy the new sports complex and tear it down...doesn't make sense to allow it to be built so close to the location of the ramp. At least the Borough engineer showed that she was THINKING..unlike many other people. Come on...unrestricted building everywhere and anywhere is not something this town needs. Wake up people and stop trying to blame everyone. The Boro Motors site is a BIG piece of property. There has to be a compromise location which would allow both projects to happen.

This town is run by a group of nothings, they think they are bigshots,but are really nothings. Listen to them at Council Meetings. A complete joke. Selfish, egotistical nothings.

Absolutely! They will table this town into a bunch of boarded up storefronts and wonder where is everybody?

Why would you you bother with them?

No he wasn't getting his approval. He was getting yet another reconfigure and redraw request. Typical Metuchen council, gang that couldn't shoot straight stuff. Delay delay delay. Change the requirements. Move the goal posts. People eventually give up. It becomes too expensive and time consuming to do business with the gang that couldn't shoot straight and thier endless requirements. Once again, Metuchen would rather hope for one time aid from the state or fed at an unknown time in an uncertain future than encourage business or find a way to accommodate both. No creativity. Our council is populated by lawyers used to having their hands out for a deep pocket but have no idea on how to encourage business.

Forgive me, but I thought Jeff was getting his approval, so how did the town or the borough screw anything up?

Typical Metuchen cluless politics. Jeff is a Metuchen guy - a great guy - a supporter of our town who was trying to do something the right way. This development would have benefitted A LOT of kids in OUR town. The borough as usual -disconected from the public needed screwed it up.

I don't blame Jeff for walking out. Knowing him I would have expected nothing less. This development would have been something special. A benefit and an asset to OUR town run by someone interested and invested in his hometown. What a bloody shame!

Nice job Metuchen!

What are you talking about? Jeff's site was the one that was close to the proposed interchange. Jeff withdrew his proposal (or request for approval.)

The interchange has nothing to do with the proposal next to Vidas.

Your taxes are going up anyway so it doesn't matter whether this gets built or not. I agree that it did take a long time to mention this "problem" but I think they always had concerns. The town is obviously preparing, or hoping to go forward with the 287 ramp because of the stimulus package. It seems like more of a reality to them than it was before.

Metuchen could clean up this "Gateway" (as one of the above commenters has called it) with something that won't bring in hundreds of cars down residential roads 12 hours a day. Metuchen doesn't need two of these going up and the location in the middle of Metuchen is better than the one near the 287 interchange for accessibility reasons. If this goes up and so does the 287 interchange, there is only access off residential streets.

If this proposed interchange was so soon in coming as to be an impediment to this project, why didn't the engineer discover the problem in the beginning of the process, instead of 18 months later? I used to think the Borough actively discouraged business. Now I wonder if they are just plain incompetant when it comes to business matters. More blight for Metuchen while we wait for a maybe never to happen project funded with maybe never to appear dollars in a faraway future.

Not Dyas, he is progrowth, probably would have wanted both developments, or any source of new revenues

Developer will probably make more money off the interchange deal than with the sports complex. Guaranteed payoff

They think they will be able to get the money for the interchange from the Federal stimulus package.

The site which is too close to the interchange was Jeff's, not the one next to Vidas.

If the engineer thought the buildings would be too close to the proposed interchange, she should have brought that up a long time ago.

Heard they are negotiating to bring back the project and make it happen

Didn't one of the current councilmen even come out and speak against one of the projects at a public meeting?

Anti business as usual. The 287 exchange has been political BS for years. It will never happen. The state has no plans at all in reference to the exchange. More so now, the state could not afford it. There really is no reason to add this exchange,other than to reduce truck traffic. Big deal. The state needs to woory more about existing roads and bridges that are falling apart and dangerous. What a shame this town has become. The sportsplex wa a great idea,ratables,clean up of an eyesore at the gateway to Metuchen. Cryans is a shambles, Vahalla and company are doing a bang up job.

Read the article. No one came out and opposed Jeff's plan. It seems the Mayor, the planner and the Engineer are NOT on the same page. She's the one that blocked this, not people from the town. Great leadership!

I thought that the interchange was near Jeff's place, not the one near downtown. Jeff withdrew his, so whats the issue? That land is quite a ways away from 287.

You mean there are none. Both projects dead in the water.

Good job by all those who came out at the meetings and opposed, can you lend me some $$$ so I can pay my taxes when they go up?

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Recent Comments

  • Anonymous: So after reading all of the above comments & opinions.....what's read more
  • Anonymous: People have a right to ask questions at a public read more
  • Anonymous: Does this mean that the group of people who have read more
  • Anonymous: The Gateway District is the name the town gave the read more
  • Anonymous: The Oakite site does not include a "bubble." It involves read more
  • Anonymous: So nice to hear from members of Borough council anonymously read more
  • Anonymous: Not very dense at all and beautiful design, buildings are read more
  • Anonymous: check on the plans for Renaissance Project. Buildings very close read more
  • Anonymous: Jeff is going to make more money selling his land read more
  • Anonymous: It's always amazed me that High Street residents weren't barking read more

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