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Elected Officials Move to Condemn & Redevelop Montgomery Gateway

By Barbara A. Preston l June 28, 2021

The gateway to Montgomery near the Route 518/206 intersection hosts properties that ought to have been condemned and torn down long ago. Behind Wawa, festers a decrepit office building—an apparent magnet for secretive drinkers (given the number of empty alcohol bottles and beer cans). It is also a haven for untalented spraypaint artists, and for people who like to break windows and dump trash in the back parking lot.

Gas station by Tigers’ Tale

On the other side of Wawa, across Route 206, is a brokendown, eyesore of a gas station, owned by a guy for years and years who has applied to multiple authorities to put a Dunkin’ Donuts there. There was a problem in that a Dunkin’ drive-through could backup traffic on the state highway (206) or the busy county road (518). The application is pending another trip to the Montgomery Zoning Board.

While these conditions linger, the local Montgomery government is taking action. Township Committee passed Resolution #21-6-151 at its meeting on June 17 authorizing and directing the Montgomery Planning Board to conduct a preliminary investigation to determine whether certain properties within the vicinity meet the criteria for designation as a “condemnation redevelopment area.”

Deputy Mayor Marvin Schuldiner, who ran for office three years ago on the platform of fixing up this area (and is up for re-election in November) says: “We are one of the wealthiest towns in New Jersey and this is what our commerce area looks like.” While the retail market had ground to a halt during the pandemic, and public officials had put their focus on public safety, he says things are looking up and it is time to move forward.

The NJ Local Redevelopment and Housing Law was enacted to empower and assist local governments in their efforts to arrest and reverse deteriorated conditions involving housing, commercial, and industrial properties. The law promotes the advancement of community interests through programs of redevelopment or rehabilitation, and provides incentives for the expansion and improvement of commercial, industrial, residential, and civic facilities.

Office building in Montgomery Township at 1026 Route 518

This empty Montgomery Township building hosts a variety of illicit activities. The inside is filled with empty alcohol bottles, the walls spray-painted, and a door and multiple windows are wide-open inviting passers-by to enter the hell-hole that exists in there.

Properties included in the study are: the Madison Marquette Property on Route 206 next to the Princeton Airport; the office building at 1026 Route 518; the gas station next to Tigers’ Tale; the vacant National Auto Parts Supply store; the entire Montgomery Shopping Center (where ShopRite is located); the Princeton North Shopping Center (where the Princeton Fitness Center and Burger King are); and the Wawa store property at the corner.

“This is the center of our commercial district,” Schuldiner said. “The township has tried various efforts over the years to effect change on the intersection; including zoning overlays and other incentives. So far, that hasn’t brought the change we’re seeking. “Let’s be blunt,” he said. “It looks horrible. It’s not something Montgomery can be proud off.”

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The Montgomery Planning Board will work to determine which parcels in the study area meet the requirement of being in need of redevelopment, and will come back to the Township Committee.

“We aimed larger than what will probably be in the final redevelopment plan,” Schuldiner said. “We wanted to think broadly. Once we identify the need, we can start creating plans to redevelop each quadrant of the intersection.” “We want and need public input into the redevelopment process,” he adds. “We will be creating a process for that to happen. Stay tuned.”


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