By JOHN T. WARD
The borough planning board OK’d a plan by Lightbridge Academy, a franchisor of educational centers for children from infancy to kindergarten, to build a two-story, 11,600-square-foot facility with outdoor play areas on Shrewsbury Avenue.
A company spokeswoman said construction could begin as early as June, though no prospective opening date was yet available.
The approval marks the latest in a series of recent investments in a section of the borough long marked by vacant or underutilized sites.
Last year, new Sherwin Williams and Advance Auto Parts stores replaced a bunker-like warehouse building at the northeast corner of Shrewsbury Avenue and Patterson Avenue, just steps from the Lighthouse site. Mayor Don Burden had called the windowless warehouse a “blight.”
On the southeast corner of that intersection, Chelsea Living has approvals for an 85-unit assisted-living facility for seniors that’s expected to open in December on the former site of a nursing home.
The approval also adds to a string of major projects throughout the borough.
At the southern end of town, the Saker Company won zoning board approval in February for an 84,000-square-foot ShopRite supermarket to replace three office buildings on Shrewsbury Avenue near Broad Street. And on Broad Street itself, Sunrise Senior Living won approval in December for an 81-unit assisted-living facility to replace the Catelli Brothers slaughterhouse.
Burden told redbankgreen the activity shows that the town is successfully weathering a transition from office buildings to different types of commercial uses that add to the tax base without burdening the one-school district.
“A lot of these office buildings were for consulting firms, but those people are now gone,” he said “But with the opening of Fort Monmouth, I think commercial properties are going to be even more valuable.”