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Woolwich Kings Landing Residential Looks for Approval of 1,065 Housing Units

Woolwich Kings Landing Residential Looks for Approval of 1,065 Housing Units
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The long planned Kings Landing Redevelopment project in Woolwich Township NJ is heading towards the start of significant development, as developers look for approval on a large residential component totaling 1,065 units.

The Joint Land Use hearing will be on August 17, 2023, at 7:00 p.m. in the West Gym, at Kingsway Middle School, 203 Kings Highway, Woolwich, New Jersey,

The property to be developed is along Kings Highway (North of 322) on both sides of Asbury Station Road.

This large residential development would sit directly next to the Kingsway School Complex (Middle and High) along Kings Highway… which would be the open farmland next to the schools, heading up north on Kings Highway and then across Asbury Station Road, to include farmland on that other side.

Of the 1065 units, 368 of them will be age restricted, and 90 of them would be designated as affordable-housing.  This residential project will also include active and passive recreation areas, walking trails and over 73 acres of open space.

The residential construction would be developed by Ryan homes.

Kings Landing in Woolwich is set to see development take place, with developers looking for final approval on 1,065 residences in this first phase of a multi-faceted project. (Image: Woolwich Twp)

This large residential project is just one portion of a much larger Kings Landing redevelopment plan lead by Wolfson Group and the Township, which incorporates 543 acres.

While only this residential portion is coming up for a Planning Board hearing, the full redevelopment plan includes additional mixed-use properties (including housing), and the long-awaited commercial developments along Route 322 (Main Street, Woolwich Commons and Woolwich Crossings) which some aspects of them seem to now be called “Shops at Kings Landing

To be very clear, only the residential aspects are coming to the Joint Land Use Board on August 17.

Wolfson Group does maintain marketing sites for the commercial aspects of the project which include a large number of tenants, but those projects are not part of this hearing… and I don’t know where the commercial aspects stand.

Township documents trace the start of this Redevelopment Plan back to 2014 which at the time were two two separate plans, for two different areas. In 2017 the two plans were merged into the one Kings Landing Redevelopment Plan.

That being said the company associated with this large development, Wolfson… are mentioned in a 2005 New York Times article about the then “Fastest Growing Town in America”, where chairman Steven Wolfson said at the time they wanted to “lead in the smart growth plan” for Woolwich Township.

To help you with the math, that article was 18 years ago… so likely Wolfson has been looking to get something started in Woolwich Township for 20 years or more.

The large 534 acre Kings Landing Development in Woolwich has the residential component (in Green) coming to Joint Land Use Hearing on Aug 17, 2023 . (Image: Woolwich Twp. Green overlay 42Freeway)

Kings Landing At Woolwich – Redevelopment Plan

To the town’s credit, Woolwich has been maintaining at their website a “Route 322 Regional Growth Center” webpage as well as a Master Plan page which featuring all of the revisions of the Kings Landing Redevelopment Plan, including the latest and final plan which was just adopted on June 5th 2023 (PDF)

Likely that final approval of the plan is why we are seeing this residential hearing scheduled less than two months later… Wolfson and Ryan are ready to get things rolling!

The Redevelopment document’s introduction gives the history of the redevelopment plan including its changes in properties.

While not part of the August Joint Land Use hearing, the full Kings Landing project in Woolwich also has mapped out a large retail development component (for later approval and development) . (Image: Woolwich Twp. Additional overlay 42Freeway)

While I don’t have all of the details on why this project has taken so long to start development, the redevelopment plan and other online documents call out a few of the factors.

The redevelopment plan states that on May 3rd 2021 Woolwich Township entered into a settlement agreement with the developers, targeted at including affordable housing units which are required by New Jersey’s “Mount Laurel” fair-share housing rulings… which puts requirements on towns regarding how many affordable housing units they were required to approve/develop.

Honestly, I don’t want to dive too much into any of the litigation or settlements around the project, but feel free to read the document make your own interpretations! (PDF Link)

The full Kings Landing Redevelopment Plan is 450 pages and covers all aspects of the development from the residential, to the commercial aspects.

It even includes the siteplan maps and legal documents and rulings!

Route 322 Regional Growth Center

Woolwich Township has been a target for developers for many decades, and in fact through the early 2000s was identified as one of the fastest growing (population) towns in the USA!

But its large expanses of undeveloped fields and close access to highways and major Northeast cities, has also made the town a prime target for commercial development.

From the Woolwich Township Website:

In addition, Exit 2 of the Turnpike represents the only undeveloped Turnpike Interchange remaining in New Jersey – a 2.5 sq. mi. frontier boasting large undeveloped greenfield properties that are ideally-suited for regional scale growth and job creation. Given its prime location, high commuter and seasonal traffic, the Regional Center/Kings Landing offers enormous opportunities for highway and destination-based growth within South Jersey, Delaware and Philadelphia markets.

Woolwich Township Website: Route 322 Regional Growth Center

One concern with such large growth plans are the required utilities to support a large increase in residences and commercial developments… which if not in place ahead of large development efforts, can add extensive delays to the start of projects.

Managing sewer capacity and water supply is one particularly messy aspect.

Google satellite image of the New Jersey suburbs of Philadelphia show shows the older fully developed Camden County, as compared to the mostly untouched Woolwich/Gloucester County area. Developers are targeting growth opportunities, and Woolwich is targeting ratables.

Six years ago published an article about the expansion of sewer systems aimed at supporting growth in this southwest portion of Gloucester County… via an expansion of a Logan Township sewer treatment facility.

That article from 2017 is clear to call out that the Kings Landing project was touted as a key need for the sewer system expansion. It also describes the challenges faced in designing and placing the necessary pipes.

The lack of sewer capabilities in the area, however, has been what’s kept progress halted on the project. Nov 29, 2017 : Regarding how sewer construction was necessary for Woolwich development

Additionally Route 322 is seeing continued upgrades to handle larger capacity of traffic. But at the same time large warehouses are sprouting up along the roadway at af scale that probably was not foreseen 6 to 10 years ago.

That same Woolwich Route 322 Regional Growth Center webpage states the reason for the initial Kings Landing redevelopment plan was in order to foster important and desirable ratable generating projects that would not have otherwise chosen Woolwich.

Which brings me back to that 2005 New York Times article where a local resident was quoted as saying “But on the other side, our taxes are going up rapidly and we need some commercial development to help out there.”

With the warehouse developments in-play for Woolwich, and the more realistic hope for the Route 322 developments… will Woolwich finally get the tax ratables they’ve been craving for decades?

Kings Landing Residential
Kings Highway and Asbury Station Road
Woolwich NJ

Woolwich Township Joint Land Use Hearing
August 17, 2023, at 7:00 p.m.
The West Gym, at Kingsway Middle School
203 Kings Highway, Woolwich, New Jersey

PUBLIC NOTICE WOOLWICH TOWNSHIP JOINT LAND USE APPLICATION NOTICE OF HEARING TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN: In compliance with the pertinent provisions of the Woolwich Township Zoning and Land Development Ordinance, the Kings Landing Redevelopment Plan and the New Jersey Municipal Land Use Act, N.J.S.A. 40:55D-1 et seq., notice is hereby given that a written application has been filed by the undersigned with the Woolwich Township Joint Land Use Board for preliminary and final major subdivision approval and preliminary and final major site plan approval in order to allow the undersigned co-applicants to construct, establish and maintain a residential development to consist of 1,065 residential units, of which 368 are age-restricted and 90 are affordable housing units. The applicant also is proposing associated active and passive recreation areas and site amenities, walking trails and over 73 acres of open space as well as associated lighting, landscaping, parking and stormwater management improvements on the property shown as Lots 4 and 6 in Block 18, and Lots 2, 2.01 and 4 in Block 22 on the Woolwich Township Tax Map, which property is located at Kings Highway and Asbury Station Road in Woolwich Township, Gloucester County, New Jersey. The applicant also will seek an extended vesting period and/or period of protection from zoning changes pursuant to N.J.S.A. 40:55D-52(b) for a period of twenty years. This Application does not require any variance relief or waiver relief from the provisions of the Kings Landing Redevelopment Plan which governs development of the properties, however, the Board's professionals indicated the possible need for a variance from Section 203-78.C of the Woolwich Township Zoning Code to permit the two community identification signs to be 15 SF and 30 SF, respectively, where a maximum of 12 SF is permitted, as well as the potential for two waivers to permit lighting fixtures to be 12 FT in height where a minimum height of 14 FT is required under Section 149-37.C of the Zoning Code and to permit the use of LED lights where high pressure sodium lighting is required under Section 149-37.F of the Zoning Code. While these provisions of the Woolwich Township Zoning Code are superseded by the Kings Landing Redevelopment Plan, the Applicant will address the potential relief at the time of the hearing, together with any and all other variances or waivers the Board may reasonably require in the exercise of its discretion and without further public notice. Public hearing on the above mentioned application has been scheduled for August 17, 2023, at 7:00 p.m. in the West Gym, at Kingsway Middle School, 203 Kings Highway, Woolwich, New Jersey, at which time and place any interested party (as defined in N.J.S.A. 40:55D-4) will have an opportunity to be heard. All documents relating to this application may be inspected by the public during regular business hours in the office of the Secretary to the Joint Land Use Board, Woolwich Township Municipal Building, 120 Village Green Drive, Woolwich Township, New Jersey. For further information, please call (856) 467-2666, Ext. 3107. NEHMAD DAVIS & GOLDSTEIN, P.C. Attorneys for Co-Applicant NVR, Inc. & Woolwich Residential, LLC CHERYLLYNN WALTERS, ESQUIRE 4030 Ocean Heights Avenue Egg Harbor Township, NJ 08234 (609) 927-1177 DATED: August 4, 2023 Cost: $95.60 8/4/2023 1T (10717220)