The Raritan Valley town of Sayreville has taken the first steps towards revitalizing a long-shuttered theater in the hopes of sparking development of a mixed-use complex.
During their September 27 meeting, Sayreville’s borough council approved an ordinance establishing a redevelopment plan for the vacant Amboy Cinemas site. The 19.5-acre parcel, at the corner of Routes 9 and 35, is one of the first properties visitors see when entering the township and is perhaps not the best introduction.
Opened in December 1979, Amboy Cinemas initially thrived for decades before shuttering in the early 2000s. A recent inspection of the vacant property revealed infrastructure problems involving a sinking main floor that has been vacant for over 17 years.
Hope emerged for a revitalization of the land in October 2020 when Newark-based Dice Real Estate purchased the property for $6.75 million. CME Associates drew up the recently enacted redevelopment plan, which splits the parcel into three properties that could have separate buildings proposed for every site.
The borough council’s newly established ordinance allows a wide variety of uses at the site that include commercial retail, hotels, conference centers, recreational, and office space. Other facilities that could emerge on the three lots include grocery stores, educational accommodations, medical uses, assisted living complexes, gyms, restaurants, entertainment, park-and-ride lots, and open space.
Despite the massive assortment of what could be built on the land, the redevelopment plan does give local officials some say as to what gets built on the site. The ordinance dictates that a redeveloper “will need to be chosen and then required to enter into a redevelopment agreement…that stipulates the precise nature and extent of the improvements to be made and their timing and phasing as permitted therein.”
The plan also does allow a Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement to facilitate the land’s development, but any such deal would need further approval from the town council.
While it’s unclear what the current owners will be pitching for the future Amboy Cinemas property, Sayreville is no stranger to major redevelopment efforts. The township is also home to Riverton, a massive mixed-use endeavor that plans to revitalize 418 acres into a mixed-use waterfront community.