Sunday, April 02, 2006

Lakewood - Airport vs Cederbridge

APP: .........People that like flying would like to see improvements." If they're patient, they might bear witness. The Federal Aviation Administration recently approved the Lakewood Township Airport Authority's master plan, scuttling, at least temporarily, public discussion about possibly turning the airport into a residential or commercial site. The neatly bound master plan paints a nearly $50 million portrait of the airport's development over the next 20 years. Plans include a new terminal building, a restaurant, the addition of another 6,000 feet of security fencing, a reconstruction of the airport grounds, improved plane tie-downs, new individual hangars and the development of a 60-acre office park along Airport Road.....we're looking to lease the 60 acres." Albert said the office park — he sees it as a place for commercial uses but says anybody willing to lease the land would be considered a viable tenant — could tally up to about $1 million a year. The land would be owned by the airport, but tenants would lease it by the acre. Of course, not all of that money would come in at once, but Albert already is seeking letters of interest from companies. He said more than a half-dozen firms already have contacted him, but he declined to name them. Another stumbling block is that Albert still needs federal approval to lease the land because Lakewood used federal grants to help pay the $8.4 million the airport cost in 1996. There is no timeline for that approval. And if that's not enough, the proposed development might also face competition for tenants from Cedarbridge Corporate Campus, a proposed office park next to FirstEnergy Park, a short drive west on Cedar Bridge Avenue. In a statement, Cedarbridge Development Corp. said it is not concerned with the possible competition — especially because government bureaucracy can take a while. After about five years, Cedarbridge received final approval from Ocean County officials in December to start construction, meaning work on the first 80,000 square feet of office space could start this year. "We are confident in the office market," the company said in the statement. "We view any additional interest in office buildings as a sign of the fact that there is a healthy market developing." Albert would agree with the part about the morass of government. It took the airport authority four years just to get a master plan approved, Albert said.
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