Right here in New Brunswick, home of Rutgers University, we are being faced with a big transformation from old historic small buildings to modern upscale apartments, offices and school department buildings. New Brunswick for the next few years is going to be under construction at all times to fully complete its very long planned out redevelopment plans for the future of the city. Below is a picture of the college avenue campus redevelopment plans that were created in 2013. Because Rutgers University is such a big part of New Brunswick, these redevelopment plans are as important for New Brunswick as they are for Rutgers. These plans show University-owned properties being developed for Rutgers needs in the near future. The properties of the honor dorms and student plaza have been started. Also noticeable are properties intended for housing for New Brunswick Theological Seminary students. This is the currently vacant spot of 17 Mine Street. (The picture also labels this property as housing for Rutgers Hillel students, but it is now specifically being built for seminary students, though people unaffiliated with the seminary can live on the top three floors.)
Rutgers owned this property for a few years but sold the property at a low cost to College Avenue Redevelopment Associates, LLC, a corporation under New Brunswick Development Corporation (DEVCO), to build this fifty-two-unit apartment building on a street in the center of the college life at Rutgers University. Illustrated in the 2011 New Brunswick Zoning Map below, this site is located in the zone R-5A (a single or two family residential area) and on the edge of zone IN-1 (an educational institutional area which is the main part of the Rutgers campus in New Brunswick). With this proximity to campus and with at least four Rutgers-owned properties within two hundred feet of the property, Rutgers does play a big hand in the surrounding community.
The Problem with this is that Devco and Rutgers have a lot of power with anything in New Brunswick. Some properties like 17 Mine Street are trying to get multiple variances that seem unfair and like something that would never be allowed in any other up and coming city or town. Many documents have been used for support in this project. Two of the more important ones were the site plan and the plan review documents written up in response to the site plan by Glenn Patterson, the New Brunswick Director of Planning for Community and Economic Development. It lists the zoning violations and compliances and whether it is consistent with the Master Plan and Redevelopment. According to the most recent document, all bulk conditions comply; however, parking conditions are in violation because there are not the RSIS required number of spaces and the driveway is not wide enough, and there are landscaping and buffering violations because landscaping is not provided on all sides. The proposal on a whole, however, is consistent with the College Avenue Redevelopment Plan of 2012, and, though it is not consistent with the Master Plan’s land use recommendation, it is recommended in the 2012 Master Plan Re-examination report. The document in addition makes recommends for next steps to take and offers any other comments. Since the original proposal of this development, there have been a large number of revisions and considerations that emerged. Mr. Patterson wrote up at least four revised versions of the Seminary Housing Plan first written November 18, 2013 and most recently rewritten in August 8, 2014 to address the necessary revisions to the plan. The major revisions to this date include a cut in the number of apartments from 57 to 52 units, parking that reflects this change in the number of apartment units, a FAR reduction from 2:49:1 to 2:41:1, the relocation of a transformer from the front yard, the setting back of the top floor so that it is much less visible compared to the first 3 floors, the addition of bike racks in the garage area, and considerable modification to the architectural design of the façade of the building. Many of these changes were made because of complaints made by the public at the Planning Board meetings. The building façade was redesigned to look more traditional because people complained that it would stand out and ruin the style and character of the neighborhood. Similarly, the fourth floor was also pushed back to fit into the height of the rest of the neighborhood. Several changes were also made to fix non-compliance issues reported in previous reviews; the transformer was moved to eliminate transformer variance issues, and five apartments were removed to reduce occupancy and parking variance issues.
The existing houses on the property have been just recently knocked down.