Montgomery Area in Need of Re-Development
By Barbara A. Preston | Posted June 30, 2020
Enough is enough.
This 38,000-square-foot derelict office building in Montgomery Township is an accident waiting to happen. When will “the powers that be” take action and condemn this property located at the corner of Routes 206 and 518.
The two-story building on a three-acre lot behind Wawa was at one time assessed at $3.177 million for tax purposes. Things changed during a winter storm six years ago, when heavy snow caused the roof to collapse in 2012. The building has been empty ever since.
Any neighborhood child or teen with an iota of curiosity could walk through a wide open door labeled PrincetonOne. Inside is a dark mold-infested foyer with wires and metal drooping from the ceiling.
Montgomery Township Administrator Donato Nieman said in a telephone interview that the building is “in foreclosure.”
Montgomery Township Deputy Mayor Marvin Schuldiner, who ran for office in 2018 on the platform that he wanted to clean up the blighted properties at the gateway to Montgomery, said he has been trying to find out who owns the property at 1026 Route 518. This is more difficult than one would think.
“The township sent a demolition order to who we think the owner of the building is,” Schuldiner said in an email. “We are trying to determine who the actual current owner is in order to hold them responsible for keeping the property safe. If the safety issues are not addressed by the property owner, the township does have some tools at its disposal.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has delayed this project and we are trying to determine how the economic slowdown related to COVID-19 has impacted the real estate development environment,” he says.
The property has an unlucky history.
In 1980, hazardous substances, specifically trichloroethylene (TCE) was found in the area and traced to Princeton Gamma-Tech (PGT), which once occupied the site. The company manufactured instruments, including nuclear radiation detection equipment. In its operations, it used TCE as a degreasing agent according to court records.
“The company disposed of TCE by pouring it onto the open ground of the manufacturing site, and in later years at waste disposal sites” in Franklin Township, according to an article on BusinessInsurance.com.
In 1988, the Environmental Protection Agency told Princeton Gamma-Tech that it had been designated a potentially responsible party for environment contamination at sites surrounding its manufacturing unit.
A Super Fund Cleanup was completed at the site in the 1980s, to treat contaminated ground water in Rocky Hill and Montgomery Township.
In 2016, the property’s parking lot was rented to car dealerships on Route 206, which also had overflow parking at properties in Research Park and Airpark Road.
Kevin Van Hise, Montgomery Township Attorney, said 1026 Washington Road appears to have been sold in December 2019 to a limited liability corporation.
Township officials are very interested in talking to the new owners.
Deputy Mayor Schuldiner said he was unaware of the open doors at the property and he is going to work to have the property secured as quickly as possible. ■