By Rod Hirsch
(November 1, 2022) Mayor Dennis Sullivan and Colin Driver, director of Economic Development for the borough, agreed that Monday’s early morning visit to the former Baler & Taylor book distribution warehouse on Kirby Avenue was the “beginning of the beginning.”
Remedial environmental work has been completed on the sprawling structure, built in 1968-69.
Long vacant, the building is slated for demolition by year’s end, according to Carey Tajfel, president of TFE Properties, a central New Jersey residential and commercial developer that has secured approval to construct 15 two-story buildings on the site with 174 apartments.
Baker & Taylor relocated to a plant on Route 22 in Bridgewater 16 years ago.
TFE is the latest in a long list of builders who had plans to develop the long-fallow industrial property alongside the NJ Transit Raritan Valley line in the southeastern corner of the borough.
Stephen Kessler, general counsel for Fernmoor Homes, whose home office is in Jackson was at a Borough Council meeting in April to update officials on their pending ownership of the property, which they had purchased from TFE Properties, but according to Driver, that deal fell through this summer, with ownership reverting back to TFE.
As part of the purchase agreement, TFE Properties worked through the summer completing some environmental remediation on the building before Fernmoor was to have assumed ownership.
According to preliminary plans, there will be 58 one-bedroom apartments and 116 two-bedroom apartments on the former book company property.
The one-bedroom apartments will range in size from 800 to 860 square feet; the two-bedroom units will range in size from 1,050-1,350 square feet.
K. Hovnanian had presented plans for 150 townhouses on the property as far back as 2005; strong neighborhood opposition convinced Hovnanian to look elsewhere.
More recently, Crusader Servicing Co. of Jenkintown, Pa., the financial servicing division of Royal Bank had plans for 5-6 townhouse buildings, each with 5 units, facing out on Kirby Avenue, with as many as five 4-story apartment buildings closer to the railroad tracks, as many as 225 housing units.
The developer would have needed a density waiver to move forward, but instead, chose to sell the property to TFE according to Driver.
TFE Properties is a real estate and land development company based in East Windsor in business since 1979.
“We develop strategically located commercial and residential properties from the ground up, in addition to purchasing existing properties where we see opportunities to create value,” Tajfel said.
“To develop from the ground up, we purchase vacant land, complete the approval process, and build out the projects,” he added. “We also purchase existing properties that are underperforming, or where we see potential to create additional value, and transform them through renovations and market repositioning.
Primary areas of development for TFE Properties include retail centers, single net tenants, hotels, office buildings, apartment complexes, storage facilities, and land development.